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English 203: World Literature: Renaissance through Enlightenment

Page history last edited by Tonya Howe 9 years ago

 

I am, however, encouraged by a keen sense of world literature as the one great heart that beats for the cares and misfortunes of our world, even though each corner sees and experiences them in a different way.

 

--Alexander Solzehnitsyn, Nobel Lecture, 1970

 

The centuries from 1400 to 1800 are characterized by an unprecedented level of cosmopolitanism. Under the influence of exploration and exploitation, trade and dialogue, the world was beginning to seem both smaller and larger. Vernacular struggles shaped the literary landscape and the patterns of encounter between cultures, resulting in a dramatic shift in the content and form of language across the globe. New forms arose to describe new personal identities and new political problems; the lyric subject, the public theater, the essay, the prose narrative, the poet of public sensibility: all are new ways of seeing a world rapidly becoming modern. This course will explore early modern world literature from one of the perspectives most characteristic of the period—the encounter, both physical and imaginative. We will examine encounters between selves, between selves and others, between worlds, and between worldviews. To speak to the overarching theme of this class, coursework will require active encounters both collaborative and individual; among other work, it will include two formal essays of 4-5 pages each, quizzes, brief writing assignments and responses, and two exams.

 

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