This course is discontinued

ENG4473 – World Literature in English

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In the late 1820s Johann Wolfgang von Goethe prophesied that an age of world literature was at hand. Much more recently, this concept has received an increasing amount of attention, due no doubt to the fact that it is often connected with one of the key concepts of our times, globalization. In this course you will make yourself familiar with a number of key theoretical contributions to the field of world literature, from Goethe to Moretti. In addition to studying the emergence of a field and its varied history, you will be asked to consider the mechanisms regulating the circulation of texts in the world today.

You will be reading plays and novels by a number of writers associated with world literature, namely William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, Chinua Achebe, J.M. Coetzee, Anita Desai, Toni Morrison, and Salman Rushdie, and throughout the course you will be asked to reflect on how these texts express their perspectives on the world, on the tensions between their seemingly universal and culturally specific aspects, between similarity and difference.

You will, among other things, address the larger questions of what is lost and what is gained when local, regional or national literatures become world literature, and what it may mean for world literature to appear in English, the dominant world language.

Learning outcome

After completing this course you will have:

  • acquired an overview of the central issues involved in reading
    world literature.
  • developed your skills in literary interpretation through close
    engagement with a number of key novels from recent decades
  • learned to identify theoretical developments in the field of world literature.
  • developed your skills in historical and cultural analysis.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

No obligatory prerequisites beyond the minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway.


Seminar, two hours per week for ten weeks, 20 hours in all.

Attendance 8 out of 10 seminars is required. Additional absences must be justified by documentation to the exam coordinator.

You must also give an oral presentation (pass/fail) in order to submit your final paper.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


The assessment of the course is based on a term paper of approximately ten pages (4000 words). The topic for the term paper will be determined by the teacher and student together.

Students are required to submit the term paper at an appointed time. Beforehand, students will be given an opportunity to submit a draft of the term paper and receive individual feedback on both the form and content of the draft.

You submit your paper in Fronter in the course's "fellesrom". Read more about submission procedures

The term paper is the basis for the grade in this course.


Language of examination


Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

A term paper or equivalent that is passed may not be resubmitted in revised form.

If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


Feedback from our students is essential if we are to provide the best possible education. As a student at the University of Oslo you will be asked to participate in various types of evaluation of our courses. Every time a course is given, we ask students to participate in mid-term evaluations, and periodically we ask them to participate in periodic evaluation of the course.

Reports from periodic evaluations (in Norwegian)

Facts about this course






Autumn 2013


Autumn 2013

Teaching language