Fall 2022 - WL 103W D100

Early World Literatures (3)

Class Number: 7381

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    RCB 6125, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 13, 2022
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    WMC 3210, Burnaby



Introduces ways of comparing early world literatures across time and space. May explore fundamental themes such as love, heroism, or the underworld. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.



Food is a powerful system of communication, as Roland Barthes has posited. Yet, how can we interpret it beyond “basic physiological need”? This course aims to broach this question by homing in on both the abundant presence of food (feasting) and its glaring absence (fasting) in pre-modern texts from around the globe. This dialectal relationship between restrain and excess will inform our readings of diverse texts such as the Mayan Popol Vuh, Homer’s The Odyssey, Galen’s On Food and Diet, St. Augustine’s “The Usefulness of Fasting,” as well as others. Some of the topics we will explore include the pre-Columbian foodways of Mesoamerica, the dietary customs of Early Christianity, the eating habits of second-century Romans, as well as the important social role of commensal eating patterns.


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Formulate an argument based on a literary text.
  • Produce an organized literary essay.
  • Articulate ideas about food as cultural signifier in relation to literary texts from around the world.


  • Attendance and Participation 10%
  • Oral Report and 5-page report 25%
  • Weekly Responses to Readings 15%
  • Essay #1 (5 pages) 20%
  • Essay #2 and re-write (8 pages) 15% + 15% 30%



1) The Popol Vuh. Available online.

2) St. Augustine, “The Usefulness of Fasting.” Available online through the SFU library.

3) Homer, The Odyssey (Selected Chapters). Available online through the SFU library.

4) Galen, On Food and Diet. Available online through the SFU library.

Additional material will be provided by the instructor.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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