Fall 2020 - WL 104W D100

Modern World Literatures (3)

Class Number: 7492

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 9 – Dec 8, 2020: TBA, TBA

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 10, 2020
    Thu, 7:00–10:00 p.m.



Introduces ways of comparing modern world literatures across time and space. May explore topics such as revolution, technology, or existentialism. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.



“The Poet makes himself a seer by a long, gigantic and rational derangement of all the senses.”                       A. Rimbaud

During the global upheavals of the early 20th century, the way in which human identity was understood and depicted was upended along with traditional notions of human consciousness.  Looking back at this era of turbulent historical, technological, & cultural change, this interdisciplinary course explores how literature and art helped to develop new concepts of self & society.  In order to understand what had changed, we begin with the “theatrical” dream life of that tormented outsider, Hamlet.  By following his story through film & literature, we learn to see how solitude and derangement become forces for change in modernity.  Pursued by Hamlet’s self-interrogating presence, we turn to Strindberg’s play on the fault lines of class, feminism, and the individual (Miss Julie 1888), Rhys’s stream-of-consciousness novella of a young West Indian woman in London (Voyage in the Dark 1934), and Mulk Raj Anand’s portrait of an outcaste youth in pre-independence India (Untouchable 1935).  In order to deepen our comprehension of how the “image” of the individual carries ethical weight, we will also watch a famous 1930s Shanghai movie, The Goddess (神女), and recent cinematic versions of “Miss Julie.” 

NB: different translations exist for Strindberg’s “Miss Julie” – Michael Robinson’s is recommended (we only read the title play and its “Author’s Preface.”). 

PLEASE NOTE:  Prerecorded LECTURES will be made available through SFU Canvas.  Students will view these on their own time prior to the synchronous Tutorial portion of each week’s class.  Students must enroll in one of two online tutorial sections: these occur FRI 1230-120PM or 130-220PM.  Students must be logged onto Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate (Canvas) for the weekly Tutorial.  NB: different translations exist for Strindberg’s “Miss Julie” – Michael Robinson’s is recommended (we only read the title play and its “Author’s Preface.”). 


  • Introductory understanding of World Literature as a field practice                               
  • Basic comprehension of terms and concepts of literary criticism and the modernist era                                
  • Starting ability to analyze aesthetic forms across different cultural eras & media                                                         
  • Improved university writing ability with focus on cultural criticism


  • Participation 10%
  • Short Essay + Revision 10 + 15%
  • Quizzes 10%
  • Term Paper + Revision 20 + 15%
  • Final Exam 20%



Regular online attendance & engagement are mandatory for successful completion of the course. Attendance will be taken.  It is your responsibility to log in to class on time & to stay to the end. Please let me know in advance if you are unable to make a class on medical or other grounds, or if you must leave early.  

IMPORTANT: students must provide a note for missed classes (medical or otherwise) – or seek permission beforehand.  Unexcused absences reduce your final grade as follows: second absence 3% / third absence 6% / fourth absence 10% / after five absences you cannot pass the course as you have not completed it.  


Term Paper topics will be distributed beforehand.  If you wish to write the essay on a term paper topic outside those given, approval must be sought from me.  You will need to reference at least two scholarly texts relating to your topic (i.e. literary criticism).  There are extensive print resources at SFU library <http://www.lib.sfu.ca/> and article & book length commentaries exist for the works on our reading list.  The short essay and quizzes/exam will occur synchronously in real-time: all students receive questions and submit responses within the same limited period.  

GRADING: Converts to Grade Point Average

A+         95-100%              B+         80-84%                C+          65-69%                D              50-54%

A            90-94%                B            75-79%                C            60-64%                F              0-49%

A-          85-89%                B-          70-74%                C-          55-59%


Plagiarism is a serious academic offence.  It will result in the failure of an assignment, course, or more serious disciplinary action.  All ideas must be correctly referenced according to MLA format, both in the case of direct quotations, and paraphrased material.  I will go over the correct formatting more fully as we move closer to the take-home essay date.  Information on Plagiarism is found at <http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html> and <http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html>.  


Remember, very few online sources are acceptable for citation.  Peer reviewed online journals (ie: via JSTOR, MLA, SPRINGER) are welcome; personal web pages, blogs, study sites and so on are not.  Use bound journals or as available through the online resources of the SFU library.  

For MLA format go to: <http://www.lib.sfu.ca/sites/default/files/10642/MLA_0.pdf>           

(W designated) There are five W criteria:  
  1. Students have opportunities to use writing as a way of learning the content of the course and are taught to write in the forms and for the purposes that are typical of disciplines and/or professions.  
  2. Examples of writing within the disciplines are used as a means of instruction about typical structures, modes of reasoning, styles of address, and the use of technical language and of evidence.  
  3. Students receive appropriate feedback and response to their writing that is based on explicit criteria and is directed at improving the quality of their writing.  
  4. Revision is built into the process of writing for formal assignments, usually in terms of revisions of the same paper, or alternatively, in revisions accomplished through successive similar assignments.  
  5. At least half the course grade is based on written work for which students receive feedback (see #3)            



Shakespeare, Hamlet, Oxford (no need to purchase a book, instructor will direct students to online sources)

August Strindberg, Miss Julie & Other Plays, Oxford                 
ISBN: 978-0199538041

Jean Rhys,Voyage in the Dark, Penguin Classic 
ISBN: 978-0141183954

Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable, Penguin Classic  
ISBN: 978-0141393605

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).