Comparative Literature | Studies in Literary History
C630 | 26891 | Prof. Losensky

Studies in Literary History: World Literature before 1500
meets with C320 (23824)

Professor P. Losensky     Meets: MW 11:15-12:30

Globalization is a word on everyone’s tongue today, and the complex
interconnections between diverse cultures becomes ever more apparent
as the speed of communication around the world increases at an
unprecedented rate. Cross-cultural interaction, exchange, and
transformation, however, have been going on since the beginning of
literate civilization, and people in all parts of the world have
always wrestled with certain universal issues of what it means to be
human: our place in the cosmos and the natural order, the
organization of social relations, and the life cycle of birth, love,
and death. This course will trace the historical antecedents of
today’s globalization by surveying the development of literature
from the earliest written records through the end of the middle
ages. Using the first two volumes of The Longman Anthology of World
Literature, we will explore writings from all of the major centers
of world civilization—East and West Asia, India, and the
Mediterranean—with special emphasis given to “non-Western” cultures.
We will get our bearings by reading a selection of cosmographic and
travel writing from the ancient and medieval worlds. Lyric poetry,
perhaps the most universal of literary genres, will then provide a
basis for our exploration of the major civilizational complexes and
the longer narrative forms (epic and drama) that developed in each.
Undergraduate and graduate sections will meet together, with four
additional meetings for graduate students to investigate the history
and viability of the concept of world literature.