Introduction to World Literature


As explained in the university’s course description, English 203—World Literature—aims to

“[a]cquaint students with significant figures and works of world literature.” This class aims to introduce you not only to literary anaylsis and the ways we read literature, but the influences that global cultures have upon society as a whole. This class seeks to explore literature not only from the United States, but from societies and cultures across the globe; you will discover writing from a diverse selection of locations, and a diversity of forms.

Keep in mind that literature is a very broad field of study. Thus, consider this course an introduction. Rather than taking a chronological approach, we will instead be discussing texts thematically—what unites Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi with Shakespeare’s Othello for instance? The key to succeeding in this class is to keep an open mind and continue to question.


  • Iglesias, Luis A., Michael Mays, and Linda M. Pierce. Allen. Global Crossroads: A World Literature Reader. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead, 2008. Print.
  • Moore, Alan, and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen. New York: DC Comics, 1995. Print.
  • Satrapi, Marjane. The Complete Persepolis. New York: Pantheon, 2007. Print.
  • 3-ring notebook for notes and journal entries
  • Ability to print supplementary materials (you will be given ample notice when/what to print).


1)      Students will demonstrate the ability to connect ideas in a coherent essay; students will demonstrate the ability to connect course content to other disciplines and/or to real world situations.

2)      Students will demonstrate the ability to develop and focus on one topic in writing assignments and present ideas in an organized, logical, coherent form; students will demonstrate the ability to use Standard English grammar, punctuation, spelling and usage.

3)      Students will demonstrate an understanding of the influence of art, music, literature, theatre or dance on culture. Students will demonstrate an appreciation for art, music, literature, theatre and/or dance.

4)      Students will demonstrate the ability to write an analytical essay, the ability to find and cite relevant sources, and the ability to analyze the components of an argument.

5)      Students will be able to explain the implications of familial, sexual or religious diversity among individuals, will be able to discuss (in speaking or writing) major developments in world history, and will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the literary and creative contributions of world cultures.


In order to receive at least a “C” grade in this course, you must satisfactorily complete all of the following:

  • complete all major writing projects;
  • complete group presentation;
  • complete all tests and quizzes;
  • complete all question paper assignments;
  • complete all reading assignments and homework, actively participate in class discussions and workshops, and maintain regular classroom attendance.



The following should serve as a guide to how grading will be approached:

Question Papers & Reading Quizzes (10 points)

For each day’s reading, you will prepare 10 discussion questions, then choose one on which to write a response. Your response should be one full typed page, single spaced. Response papers will be collected at the end of each class. Reading quizzes will be given on an occasional basis, and will be unannounced.

Literary Soundtrack Essay (15 points)

A 3-4 page essay creating a soundtrack for a particular work and explaining your song choices.

Due in class February 18.


Creative Project (10 points)

You (and a partner, if you so choose) will create a visual interpretation of Gilgamesh.

Due April 8.

Midterm Exam (15 points)

The midterm will be an in-class exam consisting of short answer and identification questions.

Final Exam (20 points)

The final exam will consist of short answer and identification questions, as well as one essay. It will be cumulative, but will mostly concentrate on material covered after the midterm.

Literary Themes Analysis Essay (20 pts)

You will write one 4-6 page paper that analyzes how two texts we are studying this semester connect thematically. The paper will be due April 24. The paper should adhere to MLA formatting guidelines and include a Works Cited page.

Class Participation/Homework (10 pts)

You are expected to contribute to class discussions; participate in group work; etc. At minimum, I expect that you will be an active listener in class discussions and will say something at least once per class meeting. Participation points will be taken off for texting while in class, using your computer/other electronic device for non-class related purposes, sleeping in class, completing work for another class, or other kinds of not staying on task.


In addition to completing reading and writing assignments, preparing for class means being ready to discuss and intelligently question issues raised by the material. This does not mean, however, that you must master the material. On the contrary, it is perfectly reasonable that you may be confused by some readings the first time we encounter them. But in such cases you should be prepared to discuss what you specifically found puzzling, aggravating, thought-provoking, engaging, or difficult about the assignment. In other words, if you feel you have nothing to state about a piece of writing, actively develop a list of questions about it.


The framework of this course – with its emphasis on class discussion and group work – demands that you attend class regularly. Failure to complete in-class work will result in the lowering of your grade. Indeed, no in-class activities (including quizzes) may be made up due to tardiness or absence.

Your attendance is absolutely necessary. Each student will be allowed two (2) absences without penalty. There is no difference between “excused” and “unexcused” absences, therefore please plan accordingly. After the second absence each additional absence will result in your final grade being reduced by one full letter. Thus, with three absences an “A” becomes a “B;” with four absences an “A” becomes a “C,” with five absences an “A” becomes a “D,” and so on. You are also required to show up on time; if you are up to15 minutes late you will be marked tardy, which will count as one third of an absence. Three tardies and/or early departures will equal one absence. Any more than 15 minutes late and you will be marked absent for that class session. Please remember that attendance is important. You are responsible for keeping track of your own absences.


I expect all students to help maintain a positive learning environment based upon open communication, mutual respect, and non-discrimination. While all points of view are welcome, hurtful and biased comments and language will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others’ points of view (including those we will be reading in class), cultures, and experiences. Any suggestions as to how to further a positive and open environment in this class will be appreciated and given serious consideration.


Late work will only be accepted if you can demonstrate that you have encountered a valid obstacle before the deadline (i.e., that you’ve been working on the project in good faith, but have run into some problems). If you feel you may be unable to complete an assignment on time, you should contact me as soon as possible, but no later than two days before the due date. After reviewing all the work you’ve done on the assignment, we will set a new deadline together. In all other cases, late work will automatically be docked one letter grade per day past the deadline, beginning the day the assignment was due.

Note: Unless specified otherwise, no papers submitted electronically will be accepted, and work magically appearing in my mailbox without a prior agreement with me will also be considered late.


It is important to me that we maintain a positive, engaging, and professional atmosphere in the classroom. Cell phones must be turned off  and put away during class (unless you have a legitimate reason—a young child or an ill parent/grandparent, for example—for keeping it on, which you have cleared with me before class). Please DO NOT check or send text messages or emails; if you do so, you WILL GET A ZERO for participation points and, in certain cases, may be asked to leave class and take an absence for the day. All other electronic devices (including music devices) should be turned off before coming to class; please remove any earpieces as well. You may bring your laptop or e-reader to class in order to view the PDF reading assignments. Electronic devices should remain in your bag unless you make prior arrangements; if you want to use such devices you must read and sign the “Electronics Agreement” at the end of the syllabus and return it to me before you use your device.


All members of the academic community at the University of Southern Mississippi are expected to take responsibility for academic honesty and integrity. Plagiarism – the willful copying/presenting of another person’s work as if it were your own – and other forms of cheating are unacceptable. The penalties for such behavior can include being failed for the course and in some cases even expulsion from the university. If you have any doubts as to what constitutes plagiarism, please refer to your student handbook for USM policies on Academic Honesty, visit the Cook Library’s site on avoiding plagiarism (,), or come talk to me.


The University of Southern Mississippi is committed to providing equal access to its programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that reasonable accommodations be provided for students with physical, sensory, cognitive, systemic, learning, and psychiatric disabilities. If you feel you may need accommodations in this or any class, please contact the Office of Disability Services (118 College Dr. #8586, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001) at 601-266-5024 (Telephone), 601-266-6837 (TTY), or 601-266-6035 (FAX).


The Writing Center is a free program available to all student writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. It offers one-on-one help with any kind of writing project, at any stage of the writing process. The Writing Center is located in Cook Library 112.  The Writing Center will play an important role in the design of this course.  For more information, and hours of operation, you may contact The Writing Center at 601-266-4821, or visit the website at:


The University of Southern Mississippi offers a Speaking Center, with consultations available at no cost to all students, faculty, and staff.  The center is available for advice on all types of oral communication—formal individual presentations, group presentations, class discussion, class debates, interviews, campus speeches, etc.  Tutors at the Speaking Center will work with you on brainstorming, organizing and outlining, editing and revising, and practicing delivery.  The center also offers several practice rooms for recording presentations and practicing with delivery aids (PowerPoint and internet access are available).  Visit the center in Cook Library 117, call the center at 601-266-4965, or visit the website at


All assignments and due dates are subject to change at my discretion.

GC=Global Crossroads

Week One

1/16 Welcome, syllabus, getting started.

1/18 Coming of Age in Mississippi  Introduction through Chapter 11 (GC pages 387-423)

Week Two


1/23 Coming of Age in Mississippi Chapter 12-end (GC pages 424-488)

Week Three

1/28 “Grandmother’s Letters” (GC 164-176) and writing about literature

1/30 Selections from the Qu’ran (GC pages 73-83)

Week Four

2/4 Persepolis Book One: The Story of a Childhood

2/6 Persepolis  Book Two: The Story of a Return

Week Five


2/13 “Persepolis 2.0” and “Requiem” (on Blackboard)

Week Six

2/18 Heart of Darkness Introduction through Chapter II (GC pages 271-318) ESSAY #1 DUE

2/20 Heart of Darkness Chapter III through end (GC pages 319-341).

Week Seven

2/25 Midterm Review

2/27 Midterm Exam

Week Eight

3/4 Watch Apocalypse Now

3/6 Watch Apocalypse Now

Week Nine



Week Ten

3/18 Vietnamese poets (on Blackboard)

3/20 “Masako’s Story” and “Moonlight Shadow” (on Blackboard)

Week Eleven

3/25 Cross-cultural flood stories (on Blackboard)

3/27 Gilgamesh Introduction through Tablet IX (GC pages 1-53)

Week Twelve

4/1 Gilgamesh Tablet X through end (GC pages 53-72)

4/3 Watchmen

Week Thirteen

4/8 Watchmen

4/10 Othello  Introduction and Act I (GC pages 505-533) CREATIVE PROJECT DUE

Week Fourteen

4/15 Othello Acts 2-4 (GC pages 533-617)

4/17 Othello Act 5 (GC pages 617-639)

Week Fifteen

4/22 Electra (read full play, GC pages 647-702)

4/24 Electra ESSAY #2 DUE

Week Sixteen

4/29 Something fun, TBA

5/1 Course wrap up, final exam review.

Final exam Monday, May 6, 1:30-4 p.m.


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