World Literature I. – Writings of universal meanings and values

Objectives and competences

The main goal of this course is to introduce students to the literary works which were written in various points in time and in various countries, and, with the help of critical reading of these works and placing them in a specific historical, cultural and social context in which they were created, show the proportions and the scope of the term “world literature”.
The course is designed in such way that it not only exposes the specifics of a given period and literary trends and movements, but also searches for commonalities between them and thus points to interconnectedness and interdependency of national literatures (through time and space).
It was already Goethe, who in the 19th c pointed out the concept of interdependence of literatures and cultures, later, T.S. Eliot spoke about the link between the past (tradition) and contemporaneity (his essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent”).
We will follow this exposure of the connections between the past and the present and the links between social, cultural and historical contexts all the way to the contemporary theoretical writings that relate to our selected works.
Competences: The students get to know some of the key works in the field of world literature, the main concepts of literary theory and history of literature, moreover, they learn how to read and discuss literature critically.


Successful integration into the course is based on and intertwined with the study of other literary-historical and cultural formations and notions in the field literature, culture and linguistics.


Introductory sessions:
Introduction into the concept of world literature – when does it come to life and what does it denote (then and now). Goethe, 19th c. concept – connected with the concepts of cosmopolitism and literary transnationalism => contemporary notion of multiculturalism – e.g. R. Tagore, D. Damrosch – world literature as a transfer (exchange) of social, cultural and historical contexts from one linguistic and national environment to another.
The course will expose literary works ranging from Babylonian literature to contemporary literature from various parts of the globe, including some contemporary Slovenian authors. To list a few stops on our literary journey: The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer (the Iliad and the Odyssey), Euripides: Bachhae, One Thousand and One Nights, excerpts from traditional Chinese and Japanese literature, furthermore, we will explore literature in various historical periods and in various parts of the world, (from Europe to the United States and Latin America), explain the main characteristics of different literary trends and movements (and see where they correlate as well – be it in some basic principles be it in correlation between different countries), such as the Early Romantic Period, Romanticism, Realism and Naturalism, 20th century literary tendencies, and all the way to the preset day. We will follow the timeline path, but also geographical and thematic (and genre) lines.
Seminar paper: Students need to prepare seminar paper on a chosen topic and present it in class.

Independent work: students read selected texts and prepare for the final exam.

Intended learning outcomes

The students get to know literary works from around the globe and they get to familiarize themselves with the concept of world literature.
Moreover, they are introduced to the key concepts of literary theory, they learn how to read critically, to discuss different literary periods and movements and search for their mutual connections. Lastly, they learn how to approach the reading of theoretical essays on literature.


Literature (we will read excerpts from larger works, novels and poems)

  • Ep o Gilgamešu (prev. Mirko Avsenak, 1978) (odlomki)
  • Kitajska lirika (prev. Alojz Gradnik, 1958), Haiku, japonska lirika (prev. Iztok Geister, 1973)
  • Homer: Ilijada, Odiseja (prev. Anton Sovre, 1982 in 1984) Catalogue Catalogue
  • Evripid: Bakhantke (prev. Anton Sovre, Kajetan Gantar, 1980)
  • Horac – Izbor poezije (prev. Kajetan Gantar, 1966)
  • Petronij – Satirikon (prev. Primož Simoniti, 1987) Catalogue
  • Beowulf (odlomki) (prev. Marjan Strojan, 1992)
  • Ljubezen iz daljave: provansalska trubadurska lirika (prev. Boris A. Novak, 2003) Catalogue
  • Dante Alighieri: Božanska komedija (odlomki) (prev. Andrej Capuder, 1994) Catalogue
  • Tisoč in ena noč, zbirka (odlomki)(2015) Catalogue
  • Francesco Petrarca: izbor poezije (prev. Andrej Capuder, 1987) Catalogue
  • Giovanni Boccaccio: Dekameron (odlomki) (prev. Niko Košir, 2004) Catalogue
  • John Milton: Izgubljeni raj (odlomki) (prev. Marjan Strojan, 2003)
  • William Shakespeare: soneti in odlomki iz izbrane drame (Kralj Lear; prev. Milan Jesih)
  • Johann Wolfgang Goether: Faust (odlomki) (prev. Janko Moder, 2005) Catalogue
  • George Gordon Lord Byron: Pesmi in pesnitve (izbor) (prev Janez Menart, 1983)
  • Edgar Allan Poe: poezija (izbor) (prev. Andrej Arko, 2000) Catalogue
  • Gustave Flaubert: Gospa Bovary (odlomki) (prev. Suzana Koncut, 2005) Catalogue
  • Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist (odlomki) (prev. Oton Župančič, 1976)
  • Anton Pavlovič Čehov: Češnjev vrt (odlomki) (prev. Milan Jesih, 2007) Catalogue
  • Charles Baudelaire: Rože zla (izbor poezije) (prev. Marija Javoršek, 2005) Catalogue
  • James Joyce: Ulikses (odlomki) (prev. Janez Gradišnik, 1993) Catalogue
  • Bertolt Brecht: odlomki iz dram Catalogue Catalogue
  • Samuel Beckett: Čakajoč Godota (prev. Aleš Berger, 1997)
  • Albert Camus: Tujec (prev. Jože Javoršek, 1997) Catalogue
  • Thomas Stearns Eliot: Pusta dežela (odlomki) (prev. Veno Taufer, 1977) Catalogue
  • John Steinbeck: Grozdi jeze (odlomki) (prev. Janko Moder, 1983) Catalogue
  • Arthur Miller: Smrt trgovskega potnika (odlomki) (prev. Janko Moder, 1964) Catalogue
  • James Baldwin: Pesem črnske ulice (prev. Gitica Jakopin, 1977)
  • Jorge Luis Borges: Alef (prev. Aleš Berger, 1997) Catalogue
  • Salman Rushdie: Satanski stiki (odlomki) (prev. Jure Potokar, 2005)
  • Jumpa Lahiri: Tolmač tegob (prev. Polona Glavan, 2009)
  • Art Spiegelman: Maus (prev. Oto Luthar,2006) Catalogue

Theoretical works (selection):

  • David Damrosch, What is World Literature, Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press. Catalogue E-version
  • J.P. Eckermann, Pogovori z Goethejem, Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba (prev. Josip Vidmar, 1959). Catalogue
  • T.S. Eliot, “Tradition and the Individual Talent"” (1919), E-version
  • Janko Kos, Pregled svetovne književnosti, Ljubljana: Državna založba Slovenije, 2005. Catalogue
  • Janko Kos, Svetovni roman, Ljubljana : Literarno-umetniško društvo Literatura. Catalogue
  • Janez Vrečko, Ep in tragedija, Maibor: Obzorja, 2011.
  • Alojzija Zupan Sosič, ur. Sodobna slovenska književnost (1980-2010), Ljubljana : Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete, 2010. E-version


Oral exam (60 %). Seminar paper (30 %). Active participation in class (10 %).

Lecturer's references

Leonora Flis is an Adjunct Associate Professor of literature at the School of Humanities, University of Nova Gorica, an Assistant Professor of English language and literature and English Lecturer at the University of Ljubljana. She teaches world literature, contemporary literary theory, methodology of intercultural studies, selected chapters in world literature (British and American literature), and film (adaptation) studies. Her research areas also include: literary journalism, documentary literature and graphic novels. She also writes film and book reviews, translates and writes fiction.

1.FLIS, Leonora. Social engagement and multiculturalism in Louis Adamic's literary journalism and documentary prose. Dve domovini : razprave o izseljenstvu. [Tiskana izd.]. 2020, št. 51, str. 59-75. ISSN 0353-6777. DOI: 10.3986/dd.2020.1.04. [COBISS.SI-ID 45984557], [SNIP, Scopus]

  1. FLIS, Leonora. Grafične pripovedi in pripovednost. Primerjalna književnost. [Tiskana izd.]. 2020, letn. 43, št. 1, str. 51-74, ilustr. ISSN 0351-1189. DOI: 10.3986/pkn.v43.i1.03. [COBISS.SI-ID 18156803], [SNIP, WoS]

  2. FLIS, Leonora. Joe Sacco in literarno novinarstvo v podobi stripa - žanrski preplet literature, stripa, novinarstva in zgodovine. V: ZORMAN, Barbara (ur.), et al. Literatura in gibljive slike : tematski sklop = Literature and moving images : thematic section. Ljubljana: Slovensko društvo za primerjalno književnost, 2014. Letn. 37, št. 2, str. 195-225, [245], ilustr. Primerjalna književnost, letn. 37, št. 2. ISSN 0351-1189. [COBISS.SI-ID 55123042], [SNIP, WoS)

  3. FLIS, Leonora. Profiling war : managing trauma in reporting horror : the case of Boštjan Videmšek. V: JOSEPH, Sue (ur.). Profile pieces : journalism and the "human interest" bias. New York; London: Routledge, cop. 2016. Str. 226-239. Routledge research in journalism, 13. ISBN 978-1-138-93805-2. [COBISS.SI-ID 4114171], [Scopus]

  4. FLIS, Leonora. Factual fictions : narrative truth and the contemporary American documentary novel. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010. XII, 254 str. ISBN 9781-4438-24130-2, ISBN 1-4438-2413-5. [COBISS.SI-ID 44359522]