Globalectics: Readings in Contemporary World Literatures and Films

Fall 2021
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
8 Credits per quarter
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Kenyan author and postcolonial literary theorist, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, coined the term globalectics to call for a decentered view of the world, one in which the flatness of the English-speaking order is productively rounded out by the multitude of other language and expressive traditions. For Ngũgĩ, “Globalectics, derived from the shape of the globe, is the mutual containment of hereness and thereness in time and space, where time and space are also in each other… Reading globalectically is a way of approaching any text from whatever times and places to allow its content to form a free conversation with other texts of one’s time and place… It is to read a text with the eyes of the world; it is to see the world with the eyes of the text.”

Borrowing the framework of globalectics, this program will introduce you to a sample of contemporary literary and film traditions from outside of the English-speaking world, with selection of texts from Eastern Europe, West, Central and East Asia, South America, and Africa. Paired with readings in contemporary critical theory, you will learn to read literature and film as texts that respond to and problematize various cultural, social, economic, historical and political forces. Thinking with these texts, you will learn to ask and explore prevailing questions across the Humanities, including notions of subjectivity, agency, and power in a rapidly shifting “globalized” world.

The first five weeks of the quarter emphasize seminars in which you exercise close reading skills through class discussions and weekly writing. The seminar model will help you learn some of the key arguments in contemporary theory as you build a vocabulary to engage critically with texts. Additionally, by placing theory in dialogue with the particular arguments made in the films and literature, you’ll learn to expand upon those theoretical frameworks with new inquiry. The second half of the quarter shifts to a workshop structure in which you design and complete a theory-driven comparative analysis paper. The workshops will allow you plenty of time to work with your community of peers as you propose an argument, select and narrow down your sources, and write and revise your final paper. As you focus on the writing process, you’ll learn how to participate in peer critique to give and receive effective feedback, and to know how to confidently edit your own writing. The quarter will end with individual presentations of student work.

As this program is a fully-remote offering, you will need reliable and steady access to a computer, internet connection, video and microphone. The program will combine two synchronous sessions for lectures, seminars, and workshops and one asynchronous session for film screenings.

This program serves as a “foundational” program for the Culture Text and Language in World Societies (CTLWS) and the Literary Arts and Studies (LAS) paths of study. As such, it will introduce students to the conventions of academic inquiry within humanities fields and prepare them for more advanced work.


Fall 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (8): 10223
Fr (8): 10226

Academic details

Preparatory For

advanced Humanities, literary and critical studies, film studies; cultural studies.

Maximum Enrollment
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Time Offered
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First Meeting