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COURSE NAME: "Selected Topics in World Literature: The 2000s, Around the World in Six Novels "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Alessandra Grego
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 11:30-12:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above

This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 300-level literature classes are required to produce 5-6,000 words of critical writing. This course is an upper-level course designed to provide a thorough investigation of a limited number of texts or of a specific central unifying theme that can be chosen either from Western or non-Western literature. The course invites students to take a closer look both at the text or theme in question and at the world out of which the focal subject developed. Through the comparative analysis of literary texts from diverse cultures, students will come to see how cultural differences can influence such elements as narrative, structure, literary style, plot conventions, point of view, or the construction of character and voice. They will also be able to see how similar literary themes may be handled with different emphases by different cultures, or how cultural biases can result in different or even completely opposite moral conclusions.
A selection of six novels published after the year 2000 by influential authors of differnt nationalities, cultural traditions, languages helps students to understand what we mean by "novel" in the 21st century,  and how geography, culture, language shape content. At the same time, we will critically evaluate the concept of World Liteature, and understand the extent to which the Western publishing industry dominates the literary market, also in terms of indirect influence on content. Finally, this course is an introduction to comparative literary studies.
 In this course, students will learn to look beyond their own cultural, national, geographical experience, to understand what theoretical and critical tools allow to make meaningful literary comparisons between texts from different parts of the world, and assess the role of literature in conveying experience through narrative, making the unknown familiar and knowable. Students will learn  how to read a text critically, how to research a literary topic, how to use library resources, how to employ the basic critical terminology and how to write research papers of academic quality.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
AmericanahChimamanda Ngozi Adichie Fourth Estate 2017978-0007356348 Please order at Almost Corner Bookshop
After DarkHaruki MurakamiVintage, 2008978-0099506249 Please order at the Almost Corner Bookshop
By Night in ChileRoberto BolanoVintage, 2009978-0099459392 Please order at the Almost Corner Bookshop
The Kite RunnerKhaled HosseiniBloombsbury Paperbacks, 2011978-1408824856 Please order at the Almost Corner Bookshop
I'm Not ScaredNiccolò AmmanitiCanongate Canons, 2016978-1782117155 Please order at the Almost Corner Bookshop
Balzac and the Little Chinese SeamstressDaj SijieVintage, New ed. 2002978-0099286431 Please order at the Almost Corner Bookshop

Short research presentationsBrief assignements on a specific topic relevant to the text being read to be presented to the class.30%
Mid termTake home paper (2500 words)20%
Final research paperResearch paper on text of choice.30%
Bibliography exercisePreliminary annotated bibliography 10%
Class contributionComing to class with the assigned readings completed, prepared to initiate and participate in discussion. Please note that silent attendence does not count towards this portion of the grade10%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


A more detailed schedule will be provided during the first week of class.

Week 1 - Introduction to the course: the novel in the world. The idea of a single form in different languages
Week 2 - Year 2000 in history, culture, and literature. Start reading Dai Sijie, "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress." (2000)
Week 3 - France and China: cultural influence, economic supremacy, political relations
Week 4 - Chile. Start Reading Roberto Bolano, "By Night in Chile." (2000)
Week 5- Magic realism in South American Literature.
Week 6 - Italy in the 21st century. Start reading Nicolò Ammaniti, "I Am Not Afraid." (2001)
Week 7 - Good and evil and political activism in Italian Literature.
Week 8 - Afganistan. Start reading Khaled Hosseini, "The Kite Runner." (2003)
Week 9 - War and literature.
Week 10 - Japan. Start Reading Murakami Haruki, "After Dark." (2004)
Week 11 - Technology, tradition and postmodernism.
Week 12 - Nigeria. Start reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, "Americanah." (2013)
Week 13 - Post-colonial literature and the right to a tradition.
Week 14 - Revision: what is world literature?