World Literatures and Cultures

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 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 newly revised World Cultural Literacy Minor and experience the world through the living arts, an understanding crucial to working well with others in cultures across the globe. The World Cultural Literacy Minor offers an opportunity for breadth and balance, especially for STEM students, in Literature, History of Art, History, Music, Philosophy, and Religious Studies.

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. 

More about the World Cultural Literacy Minor


Greek and Roman mythology through the writings and art of the Classical period. Discussion of creation stories, the major gods and heroes, the underworld and afterlife, intellectual, religious and educational role of myth, and the most important theories of interpretation and classification. All readings and discussion in English.

An overview of the visual arts in France, defined broadly, and their relationship to French society and culture: painting, architecture, photography, cinema, book production, gardens, fashion, food, television, popular culture, and mass media, including the Internet. The principal themes of the course are how France's cultural heritage is embodied in its rich tradition of visual expression and how artists' visual expressions have either served to represent, glorify, or critique the nation.

Readings in traditional literature, in translation, from Africa, the Middle and Near East, South Asia, China, Japan, and the Americas. Students will be introduced to the origins and flourishing 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: European, Russian, Latin American and Caribbean. Discussion of major themes, stylistic developments, and connections between literature, film and recent history.

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, film and recent history.

Fictional and nonfictional versions of the Holocaust, focusing on themes of survival, justice, theology, and the limits of human endurance.

This course challenges students to understand the historical, political, and cultural circumstances that gave rise to literary production in 18th- and 19th-century colonial societies. The course will enable students to understand the value of reading 18th- and 19th-century literature from a global perspective, a critical component of literary studies in today's twenty-first-century world.

A geographical and thematic examination of war and questions it raises, as reflected in selected writings from, Homer, Sophocles, Japan's Tale of the Heike, Shakespeare, The Bhagavad-Gita, Keegan, Kipling, Graham Green, Mulden, Michael Herr, Dexter Filkins, Lucius Shepherd as well as writers on Just War and Deterrence Theory, and military science.

Study of great works of Greek and Latin Literature in a genre such as tragedy, comedy, epic or lyric, with attention to both literary merit and cultural importance. All readings in English. May be taken up to three times in different genres for credit.

A study of the great Russian writers of the nineteenth century. Examination of peculiarly Russian as well as the universal aspects of this literature. All readings, lectures and discussions in English.

A study of major Russian writers of the twentieth century. Examination of peculiarly Russian as well as the universal aspects of this literature. All readings, lectures and discussions in English.

Russian culture and society through cinema. A study of selected films representative of major social-political, ideological, and artistic developments. Weekly film screenings. No knowledge of Russian required.

Introduction to the sociolinguistics of globalization. Through linguistic-semiotic practices, examine how mobility, migration, and the global circulation of information and ideologies impact people, places, and practices. Study of the interplay between global flows, [trans]local contexts, and the consequences of intense contact with linguistic and cultural otherness. Topics include: English as a global language; mobility, migration, multilingualism; youth language in mobility; multilingual hip-hop; globalization and social media; multilingual signs and linguistic landscapes in urban settings.

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, lyric poetry, drama, film, the essay, the novel, the short story, satire, romance, or autobiography. Treatment of materials from several national or ethnic cultures and periods. 

Studies in World Literature; for example, literatures of Africa, The Middle East, Persian and South Asian literatures, Japanese and Chinese literatures, Latin American and Caribbean literatures, and European literatures. Genres and themes may include film, drama, comedy, romance, the epic, lyric poetry, autobiography, metamorphosis, the Faust legend, science fiction and fantasy. Subjects vary according to instructor.

Anglophone literature in Africa. Emphasis on the relationship between the African world-view and literary production and the persistent trend by African writers to connect literature with politics. Writers such as Achebe, Ngugi, Soyinka, and Serote.

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.

This course will investigate notable literary exchanges in the literatures of the Atlantic Rim, long linked by trade [including slavery] as well as by commerce of many other kinds. Examples of these exchanges include Great Britain and the U.S., the U.S. and the Caribbean, and very importantly, between African cultures on the Atlantic and Atlantic cultures in the U.S. The course will explore the literary and cultural hybridity brought about by these exchanges. Representative writers: William Shakespeare and Aimee Cesaire, Joseph Conrad and Chinua Achebe; Charlotte Bronte and Jean Rhys; William Faulkner and Edouard Glissant.

Critical approaches to focused film topics involving film genres, directorial styles, or trends within a national cinema. Topics will vary from semester to semester.

A concentrated study of a special period, author or genre to be determined as needed in the departmental program.

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. (Permission required)

Contact Us

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