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Survey of World Literature I: ENGL 208

Course purpose and objectives

Survey of World Literature I, ENGL 208, is designed to familiarize students with great works of world literature–both Western and Eastern traditions–representing Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance periods or non-Western chronological equivalents. Students will be exposed to diverse literary traditions through discussion and through critical thinking and writing about significant literary works. In addition to essay tests and quizzes, students will be required to write at least one formal, critical essay (1,000-word computer drafted minimum); however, instructors are encouraged to assign significant amounts of writing beyond the required minimum in order to continue to develop students’ critical thinking, reading, and writing skills.

Essential skills and outcomes to be acquired through the course include:

  1. an ability to render close textual analysis;
  2. an ability to synthesize information from multiple texts;
  3. an ability to render clear, cogent ideas;
  4. an ability to structure well-developed essays, with thesis, textual support and analysis;
  5. an ability to correctly employ standard written English usage;
  6. an understanding of and respect for ethnic/cultural diversity;
  7. an aesthetic and critical judgment of literature;
  8. a concept of chronology associated with literary periods;
  9. an understanding of the inter-relationship of the arts, history, and philosophy through the study of literature.

Required texts and materials

A Writer’s Reference, Diana Hacker, St Martins Press; The Norton Anthology: World Masterpieces, Expanded Edition, Vol. I. (Paperback supplements are encouraged.)

The University Writing Center

To receive individual instruction and feedback on writing in progress, students should be encouraged to visit The Academic Support Services Center in the basement of Scarborough Library. Visits are by appointment (via the online schedule found at or through ShepOwl at

Course content

While instructors will supplement the list below with representative writers and works, the following will serve as a core of study. When possible complete works will be used rather than fragments. Supplemental works will include as many non-western selections and works by women as possible.

Western Literature: Choose at least two from each group

Non-Western Literature: Choose at least six

I.  Classical Literature:

Selections from Old and New Testaments



Aeschylus, Sophocles or Euripides


Gilgamesh or other

Egyptian poetry

Ramayana or other

Mahabharata or other

Chinese poetry or other

II.   Medieval  Literature:

Beowulf or  Roland

Dante (required)

Chaucer or Sir Gawain

Selections from Koran

Ferdowski or other

The Tale of Genji or other

The Thousand and One Nights or other

III.  Renaissance Literature:




Son-Jara or otherCodex or Mexicanos

Popul Vuh or other

Revision Approved 4-02-08