Teaching Great Works of Literature

Welcome to Great Works of World Literature at Baruch, a course that takes you across time and through the world’s richest resource: our languages and literatures.

Great Works of World Literature is an integral part of the General Education experience at Baruch College. Undergraduates must take one semester of either Great Works of World Literature I (ENG/CMP 2800) or II (ENG/CMP 2850). Great Works courses, offered in both the English and Comparative Literature and Modern Language Departments, survey vast time periods: Great Works I covers ancient literature up to about 1650, and Great Works II covers 1650 to the present. These intimate, seminar-style classes set major literary works in their social, historical, and artistic contexts while covering a global range of literary traditions. Courses compare and contrast cross-cultural conceptions of human concerns—including love and sexuality, fantasy, monstrosity, mortality, war, and the divine—as voiced across diverse genres, cultures, and historical periods.

Great Works students engage in communication-intensive activities to help them connect to literature and explore its relationship to our humanity. Over the course of the semester, students can expect to participate in collaborative in-class work, group or individual presentations, and lively discussion involving both close reading of selected texts and comparison of the styles, values, and aspirations that the texts represent. Students also work on a range of projects outside of class, from analytical essays to original literary translations and creative multi-modal projects, all designed to increase students’ close reading skills and challenge their views of how literature shapes and reflects a multi-cultural world. Along the way, students develop their writing and speaking as well as their interpretative, creative, collaborative, and inquiry skills—key components of a well-rounded liberal arts education.

Course Descriptions

ENG 2800, Great Works of Literature I

This course presents a global approach to literature by introducing a variety of narrative, lyric, and dramatic forms representative of different cultures and historical periods, from ancient times through the sixteenth century. Specific choices depend upon the preference of the instructor, but every class studies examples of epic poetry, sacred texts, medieval narrative, and classical and Renaissance drama. Discussions involve both close reading of selected texts and comparison of the values the texts promote. Students engage in a variety of communication-intensive activities designed to enhance their appreciation of literature and their awareness of the way it shapes and reflects a multicultural world.

ENG 2850 Great Works of Literature II

This course presents a global approach to literature by introducing a variety of narrative, lyric, and dramatic forms representative of different cultures and historical periods, from the seventeenth century to the present. Specific choices depend upon the preference of the instructor, but every class studies examples of fantasy and satire, Romantic poetry, modern plays, and a broad range of narratives. Discussions involve both close reading of selected texts and comparison of the values the texts promote. Students engage in a variety of communication-intensive activities designed to enhance their appreciation of literature and their awareness of the way it shapes and reflects a multicultural world.

Course Goals

Students who complete ENG 2800/50 should be able to:

  • interpret meaning in literary texts by paying close attention to authors’ choices of detail, vocabulary, and style
  • discuss the relationship between different genres of literary texts and the multicultural environments from which they spring
  • articulate a critical evaluation and appreciation of a literary work’s strengths and limitations
  • present their ideas orally
  • write critical essays employing: a strong thesis statement, appropriate textual citations, and contextual and intertextual evidence for their ideas
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