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First-Year Research Seminar: What is World Literature?

Semester and Year SP 2018
Course Number FIRST-UG798
Section 001
Instructor Ziad Dallal
Days MW
Time 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


What happens to literature when it becomes global? What does it mean to read translated literature across time and culture? This course will interrogate if and how the category of World Literature is useful for answering these questions. World Literature reserves a central but debatable prestige in contemporary literary studies. Some view World Literature as the natural consequence of a world more connected in the wake of the 19th century and the global marketplace; others view it as a term which conceals asymmetrical linguistic power relations and furthers the power of English as a literary language. In this course, we will study different understandings of the term “World Literature” and complicate our contemporary reception of literature from around the globe while also being critical of the translations of these literatures. We will examine different definitions of “World Literature” and assess arguments for and against World Literature. We will read novels in translation by prominent global authors and pair them with a diverse selection of theoretical material, examining the problems of reading a text translated from one language, culture, and time to another. Students will write various assignments culminating in a research paper that testifies to their critical understanding of World Literature as a category of theoretical inquiry. Reading may include Tayib Saleh, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahasweta Devi Pascale Casanova, Gayatri Spivak, Emily Apter, and David Damrosch.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Research Seminars (FIRST-UG)