Online Refresher Course in Arts (Literature & Culture)

Por: Swayam . en: , ,


Literature is as old as human culture and civilization. Its beginnings go back to the primeval human desire to make sense of and reproduce the meanings and sounds of the external universe and those in his/her internal universe, for example, what our ›¬i-s did in the Rigveda. Every new genre of literature is borne out of an attempt to organize or reform human societies such as the fables of the Buddha in the Jatakas, or the odes of Confucius in the Shijing. Three acts of literature, firstly narration as in Homer’s Iliad, secondly enactment as in Bharata’s Natyashashtra, and thirdly song and dance as in the Chinese opera Zaju or the Baiga dance-song of the Baiga tribes of Madhya Pradesh have been the dominant modes of literary expression across the world cultures. This course World Literature and Literary Cultures: Genres and Texts offers an introduction to the key literary forms and texts from around the world, both traditional and modern. The course is premised upon the universality of literary experience. Even before the category of “world literature” came to be discussed after its famous coinage by the German writer Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), universalism was the driving impulse behind expression of all literary cultures. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Indian book of fables The Panchatantra travelled across the Arabia seas to Persia and the Arab world in the 6 th century CE, and from there to the European countries, and also to Tibet and other South East Asian countries to become a quintessential text of “world literature.” The first section of the course would introduce literary genres and texts from the ancient world civilizations, India, Greece, China and Persia. The major literary genres discussed with literary examples would be Natya (Theatre), Itihasa (Epic), Katha (Fable) (India), Tragedy (Greece), Shi, Poetry and Youji Wenxue, travel literature (Chinese). The second section of the course would introduce genres and compositions from early second millennium to the advent of European modernity in the literary cultures of Asia such as India, Iran, Japan, and China. An important objective of this section would   be to analyze the influences of these literary cultures and their genres on the literary cultures of Europe, for example, Haiku and Tanka (Japan), Noh Theatre (Japan). The third, and the final, section of the course would deliberate upon the category of “world literature,” in modern, postcolonial and global contexts. The course at this point will revisit the prediction of Goethe that “national literature” was a thing of past, and the future belonged to “world literature.” In the first part of this section, the course would introduce key genres and texts of modern literature from Russia, France, the US and England as expressions of modernity and the associated socio-political attributes of their literary cultures. In the second part of this section, postcolonial literatures from India, Ireland, Nigeria, Kenya, Canada, and the Americas would be introduced.