Nicla Riverso Levander
C LIT 240
Comparative approach to literature and a workshop in writing comparative papers in English. Emphasis on cross-cultural comparison of literary works. Readings in English with an option to read selected texts in the original languages Offered: AWSp.
Course description: In this course, we will investigate the Western narratives of the "discovery" of unknown countries by reading a selection of travel narrative ranging from medieval times to the end of the 19th century. We will examine travel writing as a literary genre and to analyze travel texts for their social, political, religious and cross-cultural implications. These were profoundly influential in shaping European worldviews. In examining narrative choices, writing styles and points of view and reflecting upon the social, religious and political pressures on them, we will gain a greater awareness of the ways in which individual travelers passed on knowledge of the world that they were discovering. Each text will be read in its uniqueness, but also in relation to the other texts as well as with respect to the historical context.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
This is a student-centered class in which everyone will play a part in exploring the issues and questions arising from these texts. I will offer informal lectures in order to provide the historical and cultural backgrounds in which these texts are placed. You, however, will engage in conversations and discussions (in small groups or otherwise) wherein you will discuss your understanding of the literary texts, their form, cultural content and historical context before approaching your own writing. The main goal of this class is to help you become a proficient readers and writers while also giving you the opportunity to grow your ability to assess critically primary and secondary sources.
Texts: The Travels of Marco Polo, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville,The Diario of Christopher Columbusís First Voyage to America 1492-1493,China in the Sixteenth Century: the Journals of Matthew Ricci, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Turkish Embassy Letters, The Journals of Captain James Cook and Mary H. Kingsley and her Travels in West Africa.
Class assignments and grading