Spring 2022 - WL 103W D100

Early World Literatures (3)

Class Number: 7474

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    AQ 4140, 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 Reading 15%
  • Essay #1 (5 pages) 20%
  • Essay #2 and re-write (8 pages) 15% + 15% 30%



1) Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of the Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings.

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.

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 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.