Spring 2024 - WL 100 D100

What is World Literature? (3)

Class Number: 5782

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Tue, 12:30–2:20 p.m.



Explores how texts travel beyond their cultures of origin, influence other cultural contexts and ideas, and become works of world literature. Introduces the concepts of cross-cultural literary criticism and translation. Breadth-Humanities.


FICTION has long investigated what it is to change one’s social and political location, but what of the movement of our feelings?  Beginning with Euripides’ ancient dramatization of the threatening boundaries between public virtue and private passion, this introductory course investigates how notions of the self in WORLD LITERATURE acquire new metaphors as they travel from place to place.  Focusing upon the ethics of the body as much as literature’s ability to express what goes on in the mind, we explore Oyono’s classic novel of race and colonial hypocrisy in Africa, Nella Larsen’s narrative of racial “passing” in America, and Duras’s searing exploration of love across ethnic lines.  Lastly, we review the gothic and supernatural aspects of Mati Diop’s award-winning Senegalese film Atlantique.   


Each of our course texts contemplates how personal and national outlooks change when they are forced into the open, and each explores the same question: if ‘language is the main instrument of man’s refusal to accept the world as it is,’ how might crossing cultural boundaries be a way of rebelling against difference?  


Introductory understanding of World Literature as a field practice 

Basic comprehension of terms and concepts of literary criticism 

Ability to cognize and compare literary texts as social discourses 

Ability to undertake comparisons across different cultural media 


  • In-Class Essay 25%
  • Presentation/Report 10%
  • Midterm Test 25%
  • Term Paper 25%
  • Participation 15%



Hippolytus Euripides (trans. R. Bagg) Oxford 


ISBN: 978-0195072907 

Houseboy Ferdinand Oyono, Waveland
ISBN: 978-1577669883

Passing Nella Larsen, Penguin
ISBN: 978-0142437278

The Lover Marguerite Duras, Pantheon
ISBN: 978-0375700521 


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