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Narratives Across Cultures

ENGL 103.401
TR 10:30-12


The purpose of this course is to present a variety of narrative genres and to discuss and illustrate the modes whereby they can be analyzed. We will be looking at some shorter types of narrative: short story, the novella, and the fable, but also some extracts from longer works such as autobiography. While some the works will be from the Anglo-American tradition, a large number of others will be from European and non-Western cultural traditions and from earlier time-periods. The course will thus offer ample opportunity for the exploration of the translation of cultural values in a comparative perspective.


(a) Readings:

You will be expected to read texts in advance of the session in question and will be given credit for the quality (as opposed to quantity) of your questions and comments.

(b) written papers and reports

There will be three paper assignments (each of no more than 5 pages):

Three short analytical papers which will consist of critiques of one or more of the works read in the class;

NOTE: one of the three papers may, if you wish, take the form of a creative writing project involving the composition of a short narrative (with particular specifications).

The three short papers will be due by the dates identified (for more on this, see the listing of sessions in a separate document).

(c) exams and quizzes:

There will be a final examination. It will consist of essay questions that will ask you to discuss different genres and the critical approaches that have been discussed in class. There will also be class quizzes on details in the readings.


The course will have a web-site using the BLACKBOARD program (at for the posting of messages, but, equally important, to serve as a forum for participants in the class to share ideas about the readings with each other. The instructor and teaching assistants will also follow, and often participate in, these online discussions. Credit will be given for astute critical comments and probing questions. More specifically, you will all be asked--in the initial sessions of the course--to sign up for one or more "PRESENTATION" (on the details of which see "PRESENTATIONS" below), a posting on the BLACKBOARD site that will serve as a springboard for both BLACKBOARD discussion before and after the session in question and for the class discussion itself.


Those students in the course who come to class regularly, do well on the writing assignments, and make comments on the readings in class, can expect to receive a grade of B. The award of the grade of A- or A will require a demonstration of excellence in some or all of the following areas:

exams and quizzes

paper writing

class discussion

website discussion participation, and particularly "presentations"

suggestions (in writing with description and explanation) for new and/or alternative readings for the course


fulfills requirements