World Literature:An Introduction - CPLT3250

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module will introduce students to some of the most influential theories of world literature, which are studied alongside a selection of literary examples. The theories range from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's reflections on world literature (Weltliteratur) to describe the international circulation and reception of literary works in Europe to Rabindranath Tagore's renaming of world literature (visva-sahitya) in his native Bengali as a model for global interconnectedness that would help foster peaceful worldwide alliances.

Throughout the module students will reflect on the relationship between national literatures and world literature, and on the ways in which the literary market facilitates and complicates transnational exchanges of ideas. In addition, students will be given the opportunity to hone their close reading skills by studying a selection of ancient and modern world creation myths. These include texts from the Near East, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe. The module offers students the unique opportunity to analyse in detail different ways in which cultural backgrounds can shape literary productions, and how stories, motifs and themes travel across national boundaries. In the course of the module, we discuss key literary terms and concepts, including fictionality, literariness, translation, the canon, and the various modes of reception and circulation that shape our understanding of world literature.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Total Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
• Essay 1 (1,000 words) – 40%
• Essay 2 (2,000 words) – 60%

Reassessment methods
• 100% Coursework (3,000 words)

Indicative reading

Any edition of the following:

Anon. Holy Bible (Mark: 'The crucifixion')
Borges, J. L. The Gospel According to Mark
Carr, Marina. By the Bog of Cats
Damrosch, David. What is World Literature?
Euripides. Medea
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet
West Side Story (dir. Wise, Robert and Robbins, Jerome)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate a basic understanding of the most significant theories of world literature;
2 Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the way in which the reception and circulation of literature is shaped by the literary market;
3 Demonstrate familiarity, through close reading and textual analysis with a representative corpus, of world creation myths from the Near East, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe;
4 Evaluate the stylistic, conceptual, and formal aspects of literary texts from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds;
5 Demonstrate an understanding of key literary terms and concepts, including literariness, fictionality, translation, reception and the canon.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate the ability to undertake comparative analysis;
2 Demonstrate written communication skills, including the structuring of an original argument;
3 Demonstrate the ability to read texts closely and critically, and to apply a range of critical terms to literary texts;
4 Demonstrate their ability to undertake the critical analysis of literature.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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