World Literature

Bruce A. McMenomy, Ph.D. for Scholars Online
2014-15: Tuesdays, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Eastern Time
September 2, 2014 to May 26, 2015


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Course Overview

This is an introductory course in world literature, aimed primarily at highschool freshmen, or (with instructor approval) younger students who are highly motivated and ready for the work. It covers materials from almost all major literary cultures from the earliest times to the present. As such it cannot cover any particular area in great detail, of course, but it should serve as a kind of sampler for future reading, and an introduction to literary study for students who have not had much opportunity to do so before. Though it is aimed at the relative beginner, it is a serious course. As I see it, the course has a handful of particular goals:

After teaching the material for a couple of years now, I have also noted a handful of other incidental benefits:

The course is based on a single solid textbook of about 1500 pages (World Literature, Revised Edition; Holt, Rinehart, and Winston: more complete information is available on the Required Materials page. It provides substantial introductory and interpretive notes to provide useful background for each selection, and though there is a handful of errors scattered throughout, they are fairly few -- better than the average in an enterprise such as this.

We will cover all the readings in the book, and perhaps supplement them occasionally with small outside readings from other sources online. Along the way, the student will complete quarterly examinations; as of this writing, we are still considering the issue of quizzes.

Parents and students should read and understand the underlying principles of this kind of educational process; the basic operating assumptions are discussed in some detail in the "General Expectations" page.