Spring 2021 - WL 104W D100

Modern World Literatures (3)

Class Number: 6370

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:




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    This is an SFU writing course: skills learned throughout the term will help students with written work in all faculties.

PLEASE NOTE: This course is blended, with asynchronous and synchronous delivery. 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 enroll in one of two online sections: these occur THU 1:00-2:20PM or 2:30-3:50PM.  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.”).

OFFICE HOURS:   Blackboard/Zoom THU 4-5 PM – appointment preferred but not required.


  • 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 15 + 15 30%
  • Comments 5%
  • Term Paper + Revision 20 + 15 35%
  • Midterm Exam 20%


WRITING INTENSIVE: (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   
ISBN: 978-0199535811

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 spring 2021 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).