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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Lin Chen
C LIT 200
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Literature

Reading, understanding, and enjoying literature from various countries, in different forms of expression (e.g., dramatic, lyric, narrative, rhetorical) and of representative periods. Emphasis on the comparative study of themes and motifs common to many literatures of the world.

Class description

Rise of Realism While the notion of literature is a modern European invention, the phenomenon of literature has existed since deepest antiquity in probably all literate cultures. In this introductory course on literature, we begin by investigating the nature and history of the concept: what is “literature�? how does the concept evolve in European literary history and how does our modern notion of it come about? What distinguishes literature from other forms of writing, say history? After these very general, though I hope informative, investigations, we will proceed to survey a cross section of the world’s modern literature in three main genres: poetry, drama, and prose fiction (novels and short stories), originally in four different languages: English, German, Russian, and Chinese. Although the readings do not exactly revolve around a common theme (our focus, as it always should be, will be on the richness and particularity of each work), issues of common interest (most of our examples, for instance, tell touching stories of human suffering) will emerge as we read chronologically. One collateral point I want to make through this selection and arrangement of texts is that while each genre has its own tradition and sets up its own boundaries (we will discuss the distinctive features of each when we come to it), the commonality between genres should not be overlooked, for, after all, each genre, be it a poem, a play, or a prose narrative, is a genre of literature.

Required Texts Dostoevsky, Feodor. Crime and Punishment. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang. Faust: Part One. Lu Xun. The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Stories. Wordsworth, William (and Coleridge). Lyrical Ballads, 1798 and 1802.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Lin Chen
Date: 09/11/2013