Topic:Literary studies

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Welcome to the Literary studies Department!
Part of Language and Literature
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For studies of the English Language itself, please see English Language.

Literature is literally "acquaintance with letters" as in the first sense given in the Oxford English Dictionary (from the Latin littera meaning "an individual written character (letter)"). The term has generally come to identify a collection of texts or works, which in Western culture are mainly prose, both fiction and non-fiction, drama and poetry.

Departmental Description[edit]

The study of literary texts (writing judged by a culture to be important for its aesthetic, content or contextual qualities) is an ancient discipline practiced for more than a millenium in cultures around the globe. Within conventional university courses, literary study is typically organised through recourse to a "canon" or list of literary works from the past deemed to be important for a contemporary student. However, the nature and composition of these canons has varied widely throughout the history of literary study within university, with new authors and literary forms continually being introduced alongside reconsideration of the conception and valuation of canons in general. Wikiversity's Literary Studies program offers discussions of all kinds of literature: from ancient to modern and postmodern periods, examining all kinds of writers, in order to give the wikischolar a full view of the development of human writing.

Here, we will not only focus on the analysis of literature, but also the creation of it. Towards this end, we offer both literary studies and creative writing courses in a variety of forms.

Search around below and feel free to sign up as a Wikiversity member in order to take part in classes we offer. As more instructors become interested, we'll offer more and more classes.

For those of you interested, please direct yourself to the Master Plan, which is currently 'in progress'.


How to Begin Studying Literature[edit]

1. Use the reading list links below to deepen your knowledge and/or develop your own course of study.

a. The only way to acquire a literary education is to start reading on your own. The materials here can help you, but the point of reading literature is to learn to analyze the writing and interpret the meaning(s) of the book yourself.

b. If you are a high-school graduate, you should be able to make your way through any of the texts on our reading list. If you are still in high-school go to the high school reading list for some ideas (list is under construction).

c. How to get started? Just take a look at the reading list link. Pick 3 titles that look interesting, go to the wikipedia link that tells you something about the authors, borrow the book from the library, or access it on line at Project Gutenberg, and begin.

{Little known fact: often the Ancient Literature is easier to read and understand than later literature. Try reading the Norton Anthology selections of the Iliad or the Odyssey, or portions of the world's oldest "novel", the Epic of Gilgamesh.}

2. Keep a reading journal. You should do this anytime you read a work of literature, and the process will help you become a better writer along the way. Take notes about your reading in a spiral notebook. You may take notes as you read, or wait until you've completed a chapter. Then write down your impressions of the characters, the action, the "style" (way the characters talk and the words the author uses), the feelings that the author seems to want to invoke, and the mood that s/he is trying to create.

Department news[edit]

  • 23 August 2006 - Department founded!

Degree plans[edit]

See: Degree plan

Streams[edit]

See: Stream plan

Literary Studies[edit]

The Department of Literary Studies aims to study, discuss, and explore the significance of textual cultures in both national and international contexts from their earliest traceable beginnings in the Middle East to the contemporary e-book and beyond. We will survey both the Western canon and the burgeoning "canon" of non-Western writings. The term "literature" is to be understood quite widely and may include such written forms as the graphic novel and the pulp novel.

Creative Writing[edit]

The basic belief of the writing department is that in order to write, one must read. The following courses should aid you in writing your own work via sections in the specific levels of writing. There are (or will be, hopefully) "instructors" in the Workshop sections to help with private writing, etc. If you have any questions, please use the discussion page within a subject or within the school.

  • Creative Fiction Workshops
  • Creative Non-fiction Workshops
  • Composition
    • Research Work
    • Biography & Autobiography
    • Journalism
  • Poetry Workshops
  • Screenwriting/Playwriting Workshops

Units[edit]

A full list of units, in alphanumeric order by course code

Get to work writing units! Simply make a link to the name of the unit (units are independent pages) and start writing! See: Unit plan

Introductions/Survey Courses[edit]

Proposed units, Literary studies stream

I. Introduction: What is Literature and Why should I care? -- geared to frustrated high-school students, high school graduates, and adults of all ages who just never quite got what the fuss was about books (but who know how to read and suspect they're missing out on something worth knowing)

reading circles and discussions around:

  • what questions should I ask myself while I'm reading?
  • how to read a poem
  • why are novels so long?
  • who decides what is trash and what is "literature"?
  • what books should you start with if you want to understand and appreciate literature?

II. Introduction to World Literature 1, 2, 3, and 4 -- this course conducts a college-level historical survey of some of the most recognized, controversial, influential and sometimes banned written work from around the world.

World Literature 1 -- the Ancient World to the Western Middle Ages

World Literature 2 -- The Western Middle Ages to the 18th Century

World Literature 3 -- Literatures of the European Enlightenment Project, the emergence of colonial literature in the 2nd and 3rd worlds, and the literatures of global industrialization

World Literature 4 -- the 20th and 21st Centuries

Advanced Literary Studies[edit]

A. some possible learning circles involving theories of literature include:

  • basic lit theory learning circle -- textual criticism and introductions to aesthetics
  • learning circle on race, gender and class -- feminist and minority criticism; marxist and post-marxist approaches to literature
  • learning circle on structuralism and semiotics -- theories of language and their relationship to the study of literature and semiotics (the science of signs).
  • learning circle on psychological and psychoanalytic approaches to literature -- from Aristotle to Zizek

B. Literature-specific learning circles may revolve around themes, historical moments, national movements, specific authors, and/or problems:

  • The environment in contemporary world literature
  • Literature of the Napoleonic Wars
  • Dada and Surrealism
  • James Baldwin and Gertrude Stein
  • War and Peace in African Literature

Undergraduate[edit]

Graduate[edit]

Literary Studies[edit]

Introductions/Survey Courses[edit]

Advanced Literary Studies[edit]

Creative Writing and Literature (Graduate Level)[edit]

The basic belief of the writing department is that in order to write, one must read. The following courses should aide you in writing your own work via sections in the specific levels of writing. There are (or will be, hopefully) "instructors" in the Workshop sections to help with private writing, etc. If you have any questions, please use the discussion page within a subject or within the school.

  • Creative Fiction Workshops
  • Creative Non-fiction Workshops
    • Research Work
    • Biography & Autobiography
    • Journalism
    • Technical Writing
  • Poetry Workshops
  • Screenwriting/Playwriting Workshops


Web Writing[edit]

The basic elements of writing for the web will be covered with a wide range of materials. Since the study of the internet and writing in that medium are fairly new, the course is designed as a means of trailblazing education. Those who study it now will be read in later years and the process will inevitably go from there. In this course of study, students will be covering the following:

  • Weblogs
    • Uses in the Academic Setting
    • Study of Concepts Regarding Weblogs
  • Wikis
    • Collective Educational Tools
    • The Science of Community
  • Composition with the Computer
  • Theories and Rhetoric of the Web
  • Close Reading and Editing of the Internet

Technical Writing[edit]

After you finish studying literature, you may need a job to pay back your student loans. Have a look at Technical writing.

References/Resources[edit]

Know any good resources for scholars of this topic? Add them here!

[Optional section]

Wikipedia[edit]

Wikibooks[edit]

Works in progress - these texts are currently at b:__Department Name___:

Web Resources[edit]

Research projects[edit]

This feature of Wikiversity will be implemented later pending further discussion.

Active participants[edit]

The histories of Wikiversity pages indicate who the active participants are. If you are an active participant in this department, you can list your name here (this can help small departments grow and the participants communicate better; for large departments a list of active participants is not needed).