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Masterpieces of World Literature

Masterpieces of World Literature

Embark on a global journey to explore the past, present, and future of World Literature.

Harvard Online Course Highlights
  • 12 weeks long
  • 5-7 hours a week
  • FREE, Upgradable
  • Self-Paced
  • Taught by: David Damrosch, Martin Puchner
  • View Course Syllabus


Online Course Details:

This literature course explores how great writers refract their world and how their works are transformed when they intervene in our global cultural landscape today. No national literature has ever grown up in isolation from the cultures around it; from the earliest periods, great works of literature have probed the tensions, conflicts, and connections among neighbouring cultures and often more distant regions as well.

Focusing particularly on works of literature that take the experience of the wider world as their theme, this course will explore the varied artistic modes in which great writers have situated themselves in the world, helping us to understand the deep roots of today’s intertwined global cultures.

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What you’ll learn

  • The history of World Literature
  • How literary works and books are transformed by cultural transmission
  • How to critically analyze literary works
  • The significance of major technological advances in writing


Texts/authors considered in the course:

  • Section 1: Goethe and the Birth of World Literature
  • Section 2: The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Section 3: Homer, The Odyssey
  • Section 4: The 1001 Nights
  • Section 5: Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji
  • Section 6: The Lusiads
  • Section 7: Voltaire, Candide
  • Section 8: Lu Xun and Eileen Chang
  • Section 9: Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones
  • Section 10: Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman
  • Section 11: Salman Rushdie and Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Section 12: Orhan Pamuk, My Name is RedTake This Online Course