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ENGL 3700 Readings in Modern and Contemporary World Literatures

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Catalog Description

Pre- or co-requisite: ENGL 2900. Introduction to modern and contemporary world literatures in English or in English translation. Through selected readings from diverse world authors, students will become familiar with different literary modes and cultural and historical experiences.

Course Description

ENGL 3700 Readings in Modern and Contemporary World Literatures is one of the Core courses in the English undergraduate degree program. The Core Readings courses provide majors with awareness of the concepts, histories, and theories central to the study of literature and language, and thus serve as “gateway” courses to 4000-level electives.

ENGL 3700 introduces students to representative works of contemporary world literatures that are either written in English or translated into English from other languages. In addition to well-known world authors (Rushdie, Naipaul, Roy, Achebe, Gordimer, Walcott, Coetzee, Kundera, Mann, Borges, Marquez, etc.) the course will also cover less-known and/or emerging authors whose literary output illustrates, in no small measure, the interdependence and connectivity of world literatures and cultures.  Ultimately, the course will draw on transnational and interdisciplinary approaches in order to examine the ways in which contemporary world literatures, while emanating from specific cultures and histories across the world (Asia, Middle East, Europe, Africa, West Indies, Latin America, etc.), offer us outstanding literary models that transcend the boundaries of nation and language and that prompt us to reflect on a vast array of themes and concerns related to contemporary global culture. The comparative literary framework of this class will help expand the students’ literary landscape and enhance their capacity for critical thinking, crucial learning assets for upper-division course work.  Through this class, not only will our students become conversant with a variety of literary trends and cultural traditions from around the world, but they will also be alive to the increasingly cosmopolitan and globalized nature of our society.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to

  • demonstrate an expanded knowledge of different histories, geographies, and cultures through the study of a wide range of literary works from around the world (Literary Coverage)
  • analyze specific works of contemporary world literature in relation to their historical and cultural contexts (Literary Analysis)
  • read works of contemporary world literature while drawing on a variety of critical theories and methodologies (Theory and Critical perspectives)
  • demonstrate awareness of the importance of language and processes of translation in the study of literature and culture (Linguistics)
  • reflect critically and self-critically on a wide range of culture-specific literary texts, thus enhancing their awareness of other cultures and the inter-relationship of world literature and English studies

Course Outline

ENGL 3700 is open to many organizational structures. The following is one of the variable arrangements of its content:

Sample Weekly Schedule

Week 1: Introduction: Historical Contexts and Literary Perspectives
Week 2: Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones
Week 3: Naguib Mahfouz, The Beggar
Week 4-5: Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Week 6-7: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Week 8: Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions
Week 9-10: Rohinton Mistry, Family Matters
Week 11-12: Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
Week 13-14: Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men
Week 15: Ha Jin, War Trash

About the Banner: "The Paris Book Fair" (2014) (image from