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Great Texts of World Literature:

 

Pre-requisites:

Greek Culture in the Ancient World, Literature I, Literature II, Western Heritage

 

Content:

This seminar introduces students to the great religious and literary classics of three ancient cultural domains: the Chinese and Japanese, the Indian, and the Islamic: a vast and culturally complex region stretching from Japan to Korea, China, Southeast Asia, India, and Persia (modern-day Iran). Central emphasis on classical texts does not exclude some study of literature from the pre-modern and modern periods. It is intended to give students a knowledge and appreciation of the rich literary traditions and forms of some of the world's oldest civilizations. The course also helps students to gain a better understanding of the cultural background of some of the members of our own increasingly diverse society, as well as to recognize the universality of human experiences despite cultural differences.

 

Possible sequence of topics:

I. Chinese and Japanese Literature
  • Ancient: Confucius, Book of Songs; Chuang Chou, The Nine Songs
  • Golden Age: Li Po; Tu Fu; The Kokinshu; Tale of the Genji; Tale of the Heike
  • Pre-Modern Period: Dream of the Red Bower; selected works of Basho
  • Modern: Lu Xun; Shusaku End

II. Indian Literature
  • Ancient (The Heroic Age): The Ramayana; The Mahabharata; The Bhagavad-Gita
  • Modern: Rabindranath Tagor

III. Persian and Arabic Literature
  • Ancient: selections from the Koran; selected works of Ferdowsi and Omar Khyyam; The Thousand and One Nights
  • Modern: Naguib Mahfouz
Texts: Example of a possible anthology: The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces (expanded edition, ed. Mack, et al.).