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Unformatted text preview: © 2010 World Policy Institute 11 Teaching the Canon David Palumbo-Liu and Dr. Paulo Lemos Horta The debate over the emerging Global Canon falls within the scope of the academy, comprised of individuals who play a critical role in deter- mining the leading works of art and literature. We engaged two professors in a discussion of the ever shifting, and increasingly global nature of literature curricula in their college classrooms. We questioned them about the specific goals of their literature classes, what role non-western writers played in class discussions, and how the diverse backgrounds of their students influenced the classroom dynamic. We began the conversa- tion, in the form of an e-mail exchange, moder- ated by World Policy Journal editors, with a simple question: What goals do you have as professors of world literature, with respect to your students’ curricula and their lives beyond the classroom? PALUMBO-LIU: First, to present litera- ture in its historical context, regionally, nationally and globally, to show the con- nection between the particular “local” situ- ation of the work of literature, its relation to broader contexts and even the notion of “universal” values. Often this is dia- lectical—by discussing the particular and the universal, we find our senses of both modified. Second, to present literature as literature; that is, as a specific way of put- ting language together that is unique to literature. This is done with due respect to the fact that different cultures have alter- native discourses, which approximate what western society understands literature to be. I attempt to raise the question regard- ing the kinds of social and cultural func- tions literature performs, and how these functions are manifested elsewhere. My hope is that if I meet these objectives, they will have a kind of ethical effect—that [my students’] assumptions about the world, of how “other people” act, about other values, ways of thinking, would be different. David Palumbo-Liu is a professor of comparative literature and director of the Department of Comparative Literature at Stanford University. Dr. Paulo Lemos Horta is an assistant professor of literature at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus. P • INT C • UNTERP • INT WORLD POLICY JOURNAL • FALL 2010 12 HORTA: I agree with David. There is an ethical component to the study of litera- ture and foreign literature in particular, a thinking through of assumptions pertain- ing to others and other cultures. Histori- cally, in the postwar United States, com- parative literature has been concerned with the task of fashioning world citizens. I think we must ask critically what it might mean to be a citizen of many cultures, and of the world. In my freshman seminars on of the world....
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.
- Fall '11