World Literatures — The Modern Period (Section 1) [CRN 77155]

Discipline: Liberal Arts
Instructor: Serio
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1510
End: 1630
Field Work: Day 1 - Friday, 21 October | Senegal
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

We will read short fiction from each port of call as we voyage to nearly a dozen countries. The indigenous literature will provide us with an excellent portal into the lives, social relationships, history, and cultural aspects of each society. As we gain an understanding of the various forces at work—from customs and beliefs to gender roles and religion to economic and political systems—we will expand our appreciation of diversity and global awareness. Traveling from highly developed countries in Europe to lesser developed ones in Africa and Latin America, we will assess the impact of cross-cultural influences, including the slave trade and colonialism. We will approach the short story as a distinct art form, one that gives shape both to the inner life and outer reality. Students will sharpen their critical thinking and writing skills through class discussion and expository essays.

Field Work

Country: Senegal
Day: 1 - Friday, 21 October

In the morning, we will have a tour of Dakar, visiting several important landmarks, and then visit the African Museum of Art, where the curator will discuss representative works of West African culture, indigenous folk art, and artistic expressions of the diaspora (the forced migration of slaves). In the afternoon, we will travel by ferry to the island of Gorée, which is 3.5 km off the coast of Dakar, Senegal. We will have lunch there and then visit the museum for a lecture on the slave trade. Afterward we will tour the Maison des Esclaves (“House of Slaves”) and witness its “Door of No Return.” According to UNESCO, this world heritage site “was the largest slave-trading center on the African coast” from the 15th to the 19th century. We will experience firsthand the conditions under which an estimated 20 million slaves lived. We will learn about their mistreatment as mere chattel by the numerous European countries that over the years ruled this area. After returning to the ship, we will discuss the personal impact of this experience as well as that of the Equiano’s slave narrative and Las Casa’s account of the mistreatment of indigenous peoples we have read for the occasion.  Learning objectives:

  1. To introduce West African culture and history through the works of folk and diaspora artists
  2. To understand the role Senegal played in the trans-American, Arab, and domestic slave trade
  3. To have students experience firsthand the horrors of the slaves’ living conditions and treatment