ENG 203- World Literature


ENG 203 is designed to introduce students to a wide variety of stories, poems, and plays from all over the world, and to encourage close reading of those texts alongside historical and cultural context to come to realizations about how humanity’s dynamic story shares significant differences as well as universal similarities. The difficult choice as an instructor is in choosing which texts to cover in the limited amount of time of a semester. No matter the material that is inevitably selected, the experience of comparing and understanding and analyzing remains crucial.

The main textbook used for ENG 203 is Global Crossroads, edited by Dr. Luis Iglesias.

Image result for global crossroads textbook

Examples of other supplementary texts required or provided can include Shakespeare plays, such as Macbeth or A Midsummer Night’s Dream, novels like Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, collections of fairy tales, such as various versions of Cinderella, short stories like Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds”, and collections of poetry, such as Native American poems and war poetry from WWI.

ENG 203 is a GEC course at USM, and students taking this course are expected to meet the following GEC learning outcomes:

  1. Students will develop a topic and present ideas through writing in an organized, logical, and coherent form and in a style that is appropriate for the discipline and the situation.
  2. Students will use Standard English grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage.
  3. Students will evaluate major developments in world history, the historical roots of contemporary global cultures, or the literary, philosophical, or religious contributions of world cultures.
  4. Students will comprehend and proficiently interpret text.

In order to assist students in meeting these GEC learning outcomes, The English Department has identified specific learning outcomes for the World Literature course. At the completion of ENG 203, students will:

  • have an appreciation of world cultures as expressed through the literature from various geographic, historical, and cultural locales;
  • be able to engage texts more critically, and to more appropriately and accurately incorporate the ideas of others in writing;
  • have familiarity with “close-reading” techniques and the skills needed to analyze a written text, making and supporting critical interpretations through the analysis of textual evidence;
  • have an appreciation of the creative and formal qualities of literary writing;
  • communicate more effectively using the conventions of standard edited English.


Assignments can range from a basic literary analysis to a more complicated synthesis essay involving at least two texts, or more creative assignments, such as applying a musical soundtrack to a text or re adapting an old text to 21st century aesthetics. The greatest tool I have found in teaching world literature is the use of videos and interviews–the links of which are included in the Instructor Resources section. Watching adaptations of Macbeth allows students to widen their creativity and context, and using videos about the discovery of the Gilgamesh tablets allows them to understand the significance of what they’re reading. Listening to Jamaica Kincaid read her story, “Girl,” lets them hear the author’s voice and the way she shapes her words. Hearing Native American poems read in their original language forces them to remember the nature of the poems and the circumstances surrounding their history and culture. All of these avenues to creating context and encouraging response helps students understand the importance of studying literature from other nations, and of thinking beyond the safety of our own.