World Literature:An Introduction - CPLT3250

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Spring Term 4 15 (7.5) Patricia Novillo-Corvalan checkmark-circle


This module introduces students to some of the most influential theories of World Literature, which are studied alongside a selection of literary examples. The theories include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's reflections formulated in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Goethe coined the term 'world literature' [Weltliteratur] to describe the international circulation and reception of literary works in Europe.
In the course of the module, we 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 are 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

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (1,000 words) – 40%
Essay 2 (2000 words) – 60%

Indicative reading

Any edition of the following:

Anon. Holy Bible (Mark: 'The crucifixion')
Anouilh, J. Antigone
Borges, J. L. The Gospel According to Mark
Carr, Marina. By the Bog of Cats
Damrosch, David. What is World Literature?
Euripides. Medea
Sophocles. Antigone

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate a basic understanding of the most significant theories of world literature;
Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the way in which the reception and circulation of literature is shaped by the literary market;
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;
Evaluate the stylistic, conceptual, and formal aspects of literary texts from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds;
Demonstrate an understanding of key literary terms and concepts, including literariness, fictionality, translation, reception and the canon.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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