World Literature

Page undergoing revision, please excuse our inconsistencies!

Welcome to the World!

Are you interested in different cultures? Experience the lives and stories of people around the planet in a World Cultural Literacy class.

Content of the classes may include film, animation, illustrations, texts, lyrics, and popular cultural references. Readings are in English translation, but original texts may be supplied on request.

Consider doing a World Cultural Literacy Minor (currently undergoing curricular revision) 

 Note that World literature courses may be Cross-Listed as FL/ENG. This means seats are available under both FL and ENG: one course, same time, same place, same teacher, same requirements filled. Students can search under both FL and ENG for open seats. 


Readings in traditional literature, in translation, from Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, China, Japan, and the Americas. Students will be introduced to the origins and flourshing of these oldest cultures through the oral and written stories, poems, essays, and plays that have become the defining work of these societies. At the same time, students will examine the geographical, historical, and political contexts from which these texts arose. Readings may include such works as Sunjata, Gilgamesh, The Quran, A Thousand and One Nights, the Upanishads, the Ramayana, the Dao De Jing, The Popul Vuh, and such authors as Rumi, Confucius, and Murasaki Shikabu. 

Readings in English translation of Western literary masterpieces from the beginning of literacy in the Middle East and Europe to the present. May include such authors as Homer, Sophocles, Virgil, Ovid, Dante, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Swift, Goethe, Mann, Austen, Flaubert, Tolstoy, Proust, Kafka, Woolf, and Borges.

Readings from Biblical, Classical, Medieval, and Early Renaissance literature including such authors as Homer, Plato, Sappho, Virgil, Ovid, St. Augustine, Marie de France, and Dante. Films may be shown to complement readings. Emphasis on the interrelations of the arts and literature in a social context.

A study of Western literature from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. Authors may include Molière, Blake, Goethe, Ibsen, Kafka, Woolf, Eliot, and Pirandello. Emphasis on the relationships between literature, history, politics, the visual arts, and music.

Twentieth-century literature of some of the following cultures: Russian, Eastern European, Latin American, Canadian, and Australian.

A survey of contemporary imaginative literature by South Asian, Central Asian, Chinese, Japanese, Middle and Near Eastern, African, and Native American writers. Discussion of major themes, stylistic developments, and connections between literature and recent history.

Intensive study in English, of the writings of one (or two) author(s) from outside the English and American traditions. Sample subjects: Homer, Virgil and Ovid, Lady Murasaki, Marie de France and Christine de Pizan, Dante, Cervantes, Goethe, Balzac and Flaubert, Kafka, Proust, Lessing and Gordimer, Borges and Marquez, Neruda, Achebe, Soyinka, Calvino, Walcott and Naipaul. Topics will vary from semester to semester.

Concentrated treatment of one literary genre, such as the epic, the lyric, the drama, satire, romance, autobiography, the essay, the novel, or the short story. Treatment of materials from several national or ethnic cultures and several periods. All readings in English.

Study of a subject in World Literature; for example, literatures of Africa, South Asia, Japan, China, Persian and Arabic literatures, Hispanic literature, East European literature, comedy, the epic, the lyric, autobiography, the Faust legend, or metamorphosis. Subjects vary according to availability of faculty.

International modernist movement in literature, from its nineteenth-century origins to its culmination in the early twentieth century. Definitions of modernity, as embodied in a variety of genres. Placement of Modernist texts within a variety of cultures that produced them.

Literary expressions of Postmodernism, from its origins in the Modernist movement through its culmination in the later decades of the twentieth century. Definitions of postmodernity, as embodied in a variety of genres. Placement of Postmodernist texts within a variety of cultures that have produced them.

Rotating topics in world literature, including treatment of materials from more than one culture including consideration of subject's theoretical or methodological framework. Readings in English (original language encouraged but not required). Junior or senior standing.

Rotating topics in world literature, including treatment of the subject's theoretical or methodological framework. Possible subjects: colonialism and literature; orality and literature; the Renaissance; the Enlightenment; translation; comparison of North and South American literatures; African literary traditions; postmodernism and gender.

Contact Us

Dr Meredith Fosque 
Assistant Teaching Professor
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Office:  Withers 418
Phone:  919-513-7034