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Narrative Across Cultures

ENGL 103.401
crosslisted as: COML 125, NELC 180, SAST 124, THAR 105
instructor(s):
MW 3:30-5:00pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Sector III: Arts & Letters of the College's General Education Curriculum

COML 125.401 / ENGL 103/FOLK 125/NELC 180. Fall 2021 MW 3.30-4.50 Narrative Across Cultures

Professor Ania Loomba loomba@english.upenn.edu

How does literature both connect cultures across time and space and speak about what is specific to each culture? In this course we will read several types of stories written in different periods and in different parts of the world, ranging from classical Greek and Sanskrit drama to modern African, European, American and Asian fiction. Many of these texts are very well known, have had long afterlives, and have been adapted and rewritten in distant spaces and times. In some cases, we will engage with these retellings. Others directly embody the coming together or friction between cultures and peoples. By studying them, we can reflect on how literary texts reflect the cultures in which they were produced, and have a capacity to travel across cultures.

Fulfills Sector 1, 2 and 6 of the English Standard Major; Sector III: Arts & Letters, and Cross Cultural Requirement of the College's General Education Curriculum

Texts will likely include:

  • Sophocles, Antigone (Greece) PDF on Canvas

  • Kalidasa Shakuntala (India) PDF on Canvas

  • William Shakespeare Othello (England) PDF on Canvas

  • David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly (USA) (Plume) ISBN 9780452272590

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Colombia) (Vintage International) ISBN

  • 9781400034710

  • Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis, Story of a Childhood (Iran) (Penguin Random House) ISBN

  • 9780375714573

  • Tayib Salih, Season of Migration to the North (Sudan) (NYRB Classics) ISBN 9781590173022

  • Arundhati Roy, God of Small Things (India) (ISBN 9780812979657

  • Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy (Sri Lanka/ Canada) Harcourt Brace) ISBN 9780156005005

  • Amara Lakhous, Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio(Italy/Morocco)

    (Europa editions. ISBN 978-1933372617)

    COURSE LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • Appreciate varied ways of apprehending the world in different periods and cultures.

  • Explore techniques of story-telling across these periods and cultures.

  • Reflect on the relationship between literature, history, and politics.

  • Learn to read actively, interpret analytically, think critically, and write/speak persuasively.

  • Learn to evaluate ideas from multiple perspectives and to formulate informed opinions on

    complex issues of critical importance.

    Requirements will include weekly “commonplace” posts, or reflections on your reading experience, a mid-term paper and a final paper.


Syllabus: