Narrating Worlds

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Course Description: 

The rise and popularity of the concept of world literature in the last two decades indicates an important move in literary studies related with interdisciplinary efforts to find adequate interpretative tools for new phenomena that characterize our time. Although (re)actualization of an old concept like “world literature”, which goes back all the way to Goethe, might not immediately evoke such a novelty, the term aims to open a possibility for new interpretation of current literary production in the context of globalization processes as something profoundly different from earlier experiences. The idea of “world literature” thus raises a set of related questions, starting from a seemingly simple one, what is a world. Following Appadurai and Debjani Ganguly, the curse starts from an assumption that the end of the 20th century brought a profound change in the way world is being understood, and calls for new tools in understanding worlding processes. Theories of possible worlds are invoked as a way to speak of the shift from the concept of the world to multiplicity of possible worlds created through and in response to processes of globalization. The course will examine world as a new chonotope, looking into its special and its temporal aspects, with a particular emphasis on heterotemporality as a strategy of worlding. Spacial aspects of world-building will be examined through transnational perspective, and its related metaphorics (Susan Friedman), which includes nation, borders, migration, ‘glocation,’ and conjuncture. Special attention will be given to some particular models of world building. The logic of world building in virtual reality, eventually with an emphasis on game building will be examined. City as a world of its own with particular logic will be interrogated from gender perspective, and a particular attention will be given to feminist science fiction as an opportunity to create worlds with different gender regimes.

Learning Outcomes: 

At the end of the course students should be able to engage with a particular set of questions behind ideas of “world literature” and “transnational literature”. The course aims to help students understand interdisciplinary connections between key concepts and different perspectives involved in understanding and interpreting contemporary fiction as a mode of worlding in times of globalization, migration and its resistances. While offering a toolkit for textual interpretation, the course aims to make visible the logic of interdisciplinary research needed for any engagement with world building artistic practices. Particular attention will be given to gendered aspects in world building, and in interpretations of possible worlds.


The course brings together feminist theory and narratology with seminar type of exercises in reading and interpretation. Every class will be followed by a seminar in which selected texts will be discussed with an eye on particular theoretical questions raised previously. Students will be required to read in full three novels and several short stories, to participate regularly in seminar discussions, have one presentation and an end of the term paper on a topic of their choice.