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Introduction to World Literature



World Literature is defined as "The body of written works of a language, period, or culture".

We will explore "literature" in a very broad way, allowing ourselves a chance to learn about 'oral", "ceremonial" and "religious" literature as well as the traditional body of works.

Let's Let's begin our explorations at the beginning... with Mythology.

Literature has many forms. Spoken, Written, Painted, Acted and Ceremonialy Danced. When seen as the method a people use to convey "their story", we see World Literature as the way people "remember" history and "tell their story".

The first myths were not only origin myths and creation myths.

The immediacy of survival made for ceremonies having to do with weather and food and perhaps geography as it helped in mapping where the best hunting areas were.

These necessary things, knowing what the weather was likely to be like and knowing how to "remember" or tell how to get back to important hunting grounds, all served to shape an early literature which today we only find in the oral and ceremonial stories of indeginous peoples living outside modern society.

Thoughts about rituals and ceremonies having to do with birth and death would have followed once the leisure time to sit and wonder became possible.

Much early literature is about "origins".

The origin of all things has captured the imagination of people for many thousands of years.

Some of the most difficult questions which we see repeated in World Literature are:
  • Is there a "beginning" to time or has it always been
  • If "time" has always been then creation myths must be reconsidered
  • Why do we see a universe with "something" and with "nothing"? Where does the "nothing" or the idea of the "nothing" come from?
  • Where do I come from?
  • Is there an original source of rules for what is right and wrong?


Literature and Art are two of the main tools or methods people have always used to communicate these ideas and the possible answers to each question.

Some unusual forms of Literature we will explore are:

  • Mythology
  • Folk Tales (sometimes called Folklore)
  • Fairey Tales
  • Religious Literature
  • Literature about Science and History
  • Digital Literature