WORLD LITERATURE courses explore the interrelations among literary cultures throughout the world. They pay special attention to such topics as translation, cultural difference, the emergence of diverse literary systems, and the relations between global sociopolitical issues and literary form.



LIT  2031   

 Ten Plays that Shook the World

Justus Rosenberg

M . W . .

10:10 am -11:30 am

OLIN 301


Cross-listed: French Studies, Theater  A close reading and textual analysis of plays  considered milestones in the history of the theater.  In this course we isolate and examine the artistic, social and psychological components that made these works become part of the literary canon.   Have they lasted because they conjure up fantasies of escape, or make its readers and viewers face dilemmas inherent in certain social conditions or archetypical conflicts?   What was it exactly that made them so shocking when first performed?  The language, theme, style, staging?  We also explore the theatre as a literary genre that goes beyond the writing.  For a meaningful and effective performance, all aspects of the play, directing, acting, staging, lighting will be considered.  This course is part of the World Literature offering.  Class size: 20



LIT  2120   

 Consciousness & Conscience

Francine Prose

. . . . F

1:30 pm -3:50 pm

OLIN 101


Cross-listed:  Human Rights   In this course, we will look at the ways in which consciousness—how we think and fantasize, how we see the world around us, how we recalibrate and respond to every new stimulus, observation, and fragment of information—has been portrayed in fiction. And we will consider how writers have (and have not) portrayed the moral dimension: the operations of conscience. We will read a wide variety of writers including Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Woolf, Wharton, Baldwin, Bolaño, Patricia Highsmith, Thomas Bernhard and Shirley Jackson. There will be a large amount of reading, and a brief response paper due each week. Students in all fields are encouraged to apply. In order to be admitted, applicants should email me ( a detailed explanation of why they wish to take the course.  Class size: 15



LIT  2203   

 Balkan Voices: WritIng from SOUTHEAST Europe

Elizabeth Frank

. . W Th .

11:50 am -1:10 pm

ASP 302


Cross-listed: Human Rights, Russian and Eurasian Studies “The Balkans,” writes journalist Robert D. Kaplan, “are a region of pure memory: a Bosch-like tapestry of interlocking ethnic rivalries where medieval and modern history thread into each other.” Indeed, the countries of the  Balkan Peninsula, or “Stara Planina” (“Old Mountain” in Bulgarian) are often seen as especially “savage,” “primitive,” “dark” and “violent” in comparison with the more “civilized” West. In this course, relying on Maria Todorova’s Imagining the Balkans and Vesna Goldsworthy’s Inventing Ruritania to frame questions and provoke discussion, we will read fiction, nonfiction and poetry from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia that explores past and present as represented by Balkan writers themselves.  During the first half of the course we will concentrate on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the struggle for liberation from the five-hundred year “Turkish Yoke” led in turn to the lasting enmities of the Balkan Wars and varied Balkan participation in World War II. For the second half we will examine writing that has come out of the fall of communist regimes since 1989, and the wars provoked by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.  Authors include but are not limited to Ismail Kadare (Albania), Ivan Vazov, Vladislav Todorov (Bulgaria), Miroslav Krleža, Slavenka Draculic, Dubravka Ugreŝić (Croatia), C.P. Cavafy (Greece), Tashko Georgievski (Macedonia), Ivo Andrić, Danilo Kiš (Serbia), Gregor von Rezzori, Herta Muller (Romania). Bosnian-American writers Téa Obreht and Aleksandar Hemon are also included, with supplementary readings from such Western writers as Rebecca West, Robert D. Kaplan, and Misha Glenny. This is a World Literature offering.  Class size: 22



RUS/LIT  231   

 St. Petersburg: City, Monument, Text

Olga Voronina

. T . Th .

1:30 pm -2:50 pm

OLIN 201


Cross-listed:  Environmental & Urban Studies; Literature; Russian & Eurasian Studies  Emperors, serfs, merchants, and soldiers built St. Petersburg, but it was the writers who put it on the cultural map of the world. Founded on the outskirts of the empire, the city served as a missing link between “enlightened” Europe and “barbaric” Asia, between the turbulent past of the Western civilization and its uncertain future. Considered to be too cold, too formal, too imperial on the outside, St. Petersburg harbored revolutionary ideas and terrorist movements that threatened to explode from within. While its granite quays were erected to withstand the assault of the floods, some of its most famous monuments, including literary works, resisted the onset of new, radical ideologies.   In this course, we will study the conflicting nature of the city as reflected in literature and literary criticism. The poems and novels on our reading list will provide a sweeping overview of Russia’s literary canon in the 19th and 20th centuries, from Pushkin to Dostoevsky and from Gogol to Bely and Nabokov. After exploring Queen of Spades, Crime and Punishment, and Anna Karenina, we will move on to Petersburg and The Defense, thus undertaking a journey through Russia’s literary tradition and the urban landscape of the north with the authors who either reconstructed St. Petersburg in their memory or re-visited it in their imaginations. Taught in English. Class size: 22



LIT  2509   

 Telling Stories about Rights

Nuruddin Farah

M . W . .

10:10 am -11:30 am

OLIN 308


Cross-listed:  Human Rights (core course)  What difference can fiction make in struggles for rights and justice? And what can this effort to represent injustice, suffering, or resistance tell us about about fiction and literature? This course will focus on a wide  range of fictions, from a variety of writers with different  backgrounds, that tell unusual stories about the rights of  individuals and communities to justice. We will read novels addressing human migration, injustices committed in the name of the  state against a minority, and the harsh conditions under which some  communities operate as part of their survival strategy, among other  topics. We will look at the ways in which literary forms can allow universalizing claims to be made, exploring how racism, disenfranchisement, poverty, and lack of access to education and  health care, for instance, can affect the dignity of all humans.  Readings may include: Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Garcia Marquez; Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson; Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg; Our Nig by Harriet Wilson; Balzac & the Chinese Seamstress by Sijai Dai; Winter is in the Blood by James Welch ; The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday; Wolves of the Crescent Moon by Yousef Al-Mohaimeed, and Bound to Violence by Yambo Ouleguem. We will also watch a number of films based on the novels (including Chronicles, Smilla's Sense, Balzac, Snow Falling), and The First Grader (2001, on the right to education in Kenya).   Class size: 20



LIT  2672   

 Arab Women’s Literature

Elizabeth Saylor

M . W . .

3:10 pm -4:30 pm

OLIN 202


Cross-listed: Middle Eastern Studies, Africana Studies Through a diverse collection of readings of poetic and prose works in translation by Arab women authors from the 7th century through the 21st centuries, in addition to film, lectures and discussion, we will pursue a broad-based understanding of the history of Arabic literature, including its formal developments, genres, and themes. We will also explore the politics of literary translation and the dissemination of “world” literatures: How do certain texts make it to Western readership? How does Orientalism and neo-Orientalism figure in the post-9/11 world? Also considered is the figure of Shahrazad and the “life” of the legendary figure from the Arabian Nights as she is portrayed in both Western and Arab literature, art, and film. Literary theory, gender studies, feminist theory, and literary historiography will inform the literature. Frequent written assignments and active class participation are required.  Class size: 22



LIT  319   

 PEOPLE MOVING: Literature & the Refugee

Nuruddin Farah

. T . . .

10:10 am -12:30 pm



Cross-listed:  Human Rights  This course will focus on people in flight, more specifically on the millions who move because they are threatened with persecution on account of race, religion, nationality or political opinion. When they are pushed out of or flee their native countries, they can be legally described as "refugees," but there are many others who leave their homes fearing death or detention and are turned into "exiles." Today nearly 40 million people are counted as refugees or 'internally displaced people.'Hannah Arendt described stateless people as “the most symptomatic group in contemporary politics,” and this seminar will explore some of the factors underlying displacement and some of the responses -- especially literary -- to it. We will ask about the experience of eviction and movement, and about the meaning of refuge. Although we will be attentive to political and social dimensions of the refugee experience, our focus will be on imaginative reflections on and accounts of displacement, flight, and (re)settlement. Among the texts considered will be: Aleksander Hemon's Nowhere Man, Tahar Ben Jelloun's The Blinding Absence of Light, Leila Abouleila's Minaret,  Goethe's Conversation with Germand Refugees, Jean Marteilhe's Galley Slave, Robin Gwynn's Hugenot Heritage. We will also watch several films, including "Casablanca," "Christ Stopped at Eboli," Elia Kazan's "America, America," and Senegalese director Mouse Toure's "The Pirouge."   Class size: 18