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Among the distinctive contributions of the always open and diversified field of Comparative Literature to a liberal education has been its emphasis on what has been called the “worlding” of literature, the various ways in which literature helps us to see and understand the world we live in and its multiple pasts, presents, and futures, and on the importance of textual analysis and translation as communicating vessels between languages and cultures. This course and its companion, Global Literatures II, aim to provide students with a greater awareness of the global cultural contexts in which literary works are created (which is intended to enhance rather than diminish consideration of the aesthetic qualities of these texts). The course draws its assigned readings from ancient times to the early modern period (a period spanning the 3rd millennium BCE to the early 16th century CE). It may include both written and oral materials, with a focus on the plurality (and where possible the intersections and interactions) of ancient and pre-modern worlds: Greece and Rome, China and India, the global Middle Ages, the empires of North and West Africa, the Renaissance and the pre-Columbian world.
This is intended to be a variable-topics course and its instructor(s) will have broad leeway to shape its content and emphases, while preserving a cross-cultural, comparative orientation that situates the selected texts in the wider world(s) of their marking. Sample topics could be: From Orature to Literature, The Epic, Love in the Ancient World, Monotheisms and Polytheisms, Literature of Empire, Representations of the Individual, Poetry of Antiquity, etc.
Visions and Versions of Antiquity. What is termed the “ancient world” has conventionally been equated with “the Greeks and the Romans,” following a paradigm that tends to relegate the vast rest of the globe to a peripheral status. This course proposes a broader focus that, while acknowledging the immense contributions of Greece and Rome, explores as well examples of the literatures of ancient Egypt, China, and India; medieval Persia and West Africa; and Mesoamerica after the Spanish Conquest (a tragic milestone in the forging of what we call the “modern” era). As we read and discuss these often fragmentary readings (which parallel our own often fragmentary understanding of the worlds that shaped them), we will consider not only their immediate historical and cultural contexts, but also their continuing resonance across time, place, and language.
Area of Knowledge and Inquiry: Reading Literature (RL) Context of Experience: World Cultures (WC) Extended Requirement: Pre-Industrial Society (PI)
Credits: 3 Prerequisites: English 110 Existing Course: Existing Existing Course Number: Comparative Literature 101W Course Anticipated to be offered: Every Semester Other (if specified): Number of Sections: 6-10 Number of Seats: 25
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