What is World Literature?

World Literature focuses on the way writing travels beyond its context of origin and acquires a new life in other languages, nations and traditions. Ancient lyrical forms, tales from The Arabian Nights, nineteenth-century French and British novels, American cinema of the 1940s and contemporary Japanese manga and anime are all good examples of World Literature. Studying texts in a World Literature framework raises vital questions about how cultures understand one another, emphasizing contexts of transmission and reception. World Literature is therefore uniquely placed to examine cross-cultural contacts and exchanges. 

Students in World Literature are attentive to networks of influence and dialogue among authors across time, culture, and linguistic boundaries. Courses explore literary works alongside such disciplines as philosophy, history, art, religion, psychoanalysis and film. They pay attention to themes such as love and intercultural conflict and explore topics such as translation, modernity and power.

Students enter into dialogue with current and historical thinkers, philosophers, poets and artists, and contribute to this rich history through their writing, projects and oral comments.

Interested in World Literature?

Please contact our academic advisor at worldlit@sfu.ca