Literatures of the World

ENG 326: Literatures of the World will meet synchronously in Zoom at the scheduled class time (MW 1:30–2:45 pm).

In this class we will read a selection of novels, short stories, a print memoir, a graphic memoir, and a work of interactive digital fiction representing a range of global contexts to explore the ethical questions they raise. Among the issues we will discuss are the legacies of settler colonialism, the repercussions of war in individual and collective lives, the personal and social impact of large-scale human migration, and the effects of climate change on Indigenous communities. We will also explore different frameworks for ethical reasoning, drawing on selections of texts from various traditions of moral philosophy. The class will also introduce you to concepts and techniques for the critical analysis of narrative, and the oral presentation assignments are designed to build your skills in close reading, interpretation, argumentation, and interpersonal communication.

This course has a Contemporary Ethical Issues (E) Focus designation. Contemporary ethical issues are fully integrated into the main course material and will constitute at least 30% of the content. At least 8 hours of class time will be spent discussing ethical issues. Through the use of lectures, discussions and assignments, you will develop basic competency in recognizing and analyzing ethical issues; responsibly deliberating on ethical issues; and making ethically determined judgments.

This class also has an Oral Communication (O) Focus Designation. Fifty percent (50%) of your grade will be based on your performance as a speaker and respondent in oral presentations in various formats. Prior to all of your oral communication assignments, I will provide training in effective public speaking in academic contexts, which will include advice on preparing and rehearsing for these assignments as well as pointers for creating successful visual supplements to your presentation. Only students who satisfactorily complete the oral communication assignments will be allowed to pass the course with a “D” or better.

Required Texts

Novels (to purchase)

Dimaline, Cherie. The Marrow Thieves.

Grace, Patricia. Potiki.

Satrapi, Marjane. The Complete Persepolis.

Noah, Trevor. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Roy, Arundati. The God of Small Things.

Schlink, Bernhard. The Reader.

Interactive Fiction (available for purchase as app)

The Pixel Hunt, Figs, and ARTE France. Bury Me, My Love.

Short Stories (provided through Laulima)

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. “The American Embassy.”

Borges, Jorge Luis. “The Garden of Forking Paths.”

Camus, Albert. “The Guest.”

Le Guin, Ursula. “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.”

Philosophy of Ethics (provided through Laulima or available online)

Leilani Basham’s “Mele Lāhui: The Importance of Pono In Hawaiian Poetry,” selections from Hirini Moko Meadʻs Tikanga Māori: Living by Māori Values, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Jeremy Bentham’s Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice, as well as Jonathan Haidt’s “The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives” and Steven Pinker’s “The Moral Instinct.”

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course you should be able to

  • read fictional literary critically, attending to details such as narrative structure, style, figurative language, allusions, and dominant themes
  • identify and employ basic concepts in literary studies
  • situate literary texts in their historical and cultural contexts
  • identify and employ different frameworks for ethical deliberation
  • produce clear, coherent analyses of literary texts for oral presentation to an academic audience
  • demonstrate sound argumentation in your presentations
  • design effective visual supplements for your oral presentations
  • carry on respectful discussions with peers in formal academic contexts
  • document sources accurately and responsibly in your writing using a standard academic style


Your grade will be based on your performance in the following assignments:

  • one 5-Minute Lightning-Round Presentation on an Ethical Question
  • one Instructional PechaKucha-Style Presentation on an Assigned Text
  • one 7-Minute Conference Presentation Incorporating Ethical Reasoning
  • 0ne Midterm and one Final Examination