Teaching World Literature: Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Challenge

full name / name of organization: 
Brian Chen/College English Association
contact email: 
bchen@westfield.ma.edu

This session is a roundtable discussion seeking topics about pedagogical issues of teaching World Literature. World Literature emerged in the wake of the absence of non-western literary traditions in the curriculum of North American postsecondary education. As we have placed emphasis on western canons over the years, we have also been Eurocentric about the literature with which we are familiar and overlooked the greater literary accomplishments in a global context. Scholars of world literature, such as David Damrosch, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Franco Moretti, suggest that studying world literature could help students establish their interests in their "distant reading" of other cultures, encourage their learning of foreign languages, and break down the hierarchy between the teacher and the student when it comes to understanding the literatures and cultures of the “others.” Are their expectations realistic? Is this simply their romantic notion that students would appreciate the literatures of the “others”? Do instructors teach world literature because they have to, or do they really hope students to be exposed to a diversity of literary traditions worldwide? Do instructors who have studied western canons understand the rationale of world literature and select texts appropriate for their courses? Does diversity really exist in the curriculum of world literature, or are Eurocentric texts still in favour? Do you use an anthology or create your own course packet? When it comes to students’ interest in learning languages, do institutions have sufficient resources to allow students to explore this potential interest?

In this roundtable discussion, I would like to invite world literature instructors to examine the issues they might have encountered in curriculum developing, issues with theory and practice, and pedagogy. As different instructors in different institutions have various challenges in teaching world literature, this discussion will invite 3-4 panelists to share their perspectives. Interested participants will submit a 500-word abstract to Dr. Brian Chen (bchen@westfield.ma.edu) by October 20, 11:59 pm.

cfp categories: 
interdisciplinary
postcolonial
twentieth_century_and_beyond