Narrative Across Cultures
In this course we will read several types of narratives—drama, frame tales, short stories, histories, and novels---written in different periods and in different parts of the world. We will also watch a few films. Through these we will look at how narratives can travel from one part of the world to another, and how they are changed as they do so, or how uncannily similar narratives can emerge in different parts of the world. We will discuss the different techniques of story-telling as they evolved over these travels in time and space, and what attitudes to love and war, sexuality and power, tradition and rebellion are inscribed in these stories. In this way, we will consider how literature reveals historical connections and conversations, as well as asks large philosophical questions shared across cultures.
Readings will likely include the Sanskrit masterpiece Shakuntala by Kalidasa and Sophocles’ classic play, Antigone, selections from the Indian epic The Mahabharata and the Greek epic, The Iliad, and modern writings from around the world including novels by Joseph Conrad, Tayib Salih, Ama Ata Aidoo, Arundhati Roy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and David Henry Hwang.