World Literature

Discipline: Special Topics in Literature
Instructor: Mason
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 10:50
End: 12:05
Field Work: Day 1 - Antwerp - Thursday, 12 September | Belgium
Prerequisites: Previous college level course in literature highly recommended Download Syllabus

World literature studies and investigates both individual writers and the broader influences and movements that surround and connect them in a global context. As our world has become more interconnected, the stories that people tell each other have traveled and overlapped.  Through the spread of trade, religions, and military conquest, tribes have become parts of nations, and nations have become part of one world. Today, the global reach of communications has created huge tensions between traditional life patterns, where a person might be born and die in almost the same place, and a fluid new situation where all is uncertain, at the whim of international capital. These are the themes of contemporary world literature. Focusing on the genres of lyric poetry and short fiction, this course will think beyond national boundaries, and study those voices from world literature that belong to the places that host us on our voyage.

Field Work

Country: Belgium
Day: 1 - Antwerp - Thursday, 12 September

The class will travel from Antwerp to the town of Ypres (about 60 miles away). We will start our day at the In Flanders Fields Museum located in the historic Cloth Hall in Ypres, and then proceed to a tour of the battlefield areas around the infamous Ypres Salient, which includes the town itself and areas of the surrounding countryside. Now peaceful fields where poppies grow were once unimaginable killing fields, and students will have time to reflect on this sad chapter of history as they tour sites and cemeteries in the course of the afternoon. The day’s tour will end at the famous Menin Gate in the city of Ypres, where every evening at 8:00 p.m. friends and relatives assemble to hear The Last Post played and to remember the fallen, many of whose names are engraved on the gate.

Academic Objectives:

1.  Having studied trench poets William Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, the class can better understand “the pity of War” by visiting the sites of some of the saddest and bloodiest World War One battles 2. Visiting the uniquely interactive “In Flanders Fields Museum” in the City of Ypres will give students an unforgettably vivid sense of the actual experience of warfare in the trenches and will sharpen their moral sense of the tragedy and awful cost of this “War to End All Wars.” 3. Attending the evening service at the Menin Gate in Ypres will give students an expanded historical sense of the continuing presence of these events in local consciousness nearly a century later