Global Literatures

About the Program

Courses in Global Literatures are designed to enable students to pursue their interests in literature beyond linguistic boundaries. Courses are taught by faculty members who teach languages other than English, but all readings are in English, and classes are conducted in English. Students with adequate language proficiency are encouraged to consult with the instructor if they wish to complete part of the reading in the original version.

Distribution

For students who started at Whitman College prior to Fall 2024, courses in Global Literatures count toward the humanities or cultural pluralism distribution areas, with the following exceptions:

No distribution: 391 and 392

For students who start at Whitman College in Fall 2024 or later, please refer to the General Studies section for a full list of courses that count toward each distribution area.

Programs of Study

Courses

Credits 1 Max Credits 4

Courses under this category explore selected topics in global literatures at the intermediate level. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 2

French is the vibrant, official language of Quebec, a linguistic island in the English-speaking nation of Canada. For nearly 200 years, however, French-speaking people in Quebec were an oppressed minority under British rule. How did this linguistic minority overcome decades of exclusionary prejudice to affirm a collective identity?  In the Canadian context, the Quiet Revolution refers to a seminal period (the 1960s) of intense social, cultural and political development in Quebec, leading eventually to the election of a pro-sovereignty government and the declaration of French as the sole official language of the province. Literary and artistic production played a significant role in this movement, critiquing Canadian society, giving voice to Quebecois aspirations, and providing inspiration for linguistic minorities in places like Scotland and Catalonia. Study of dramatic, poetic, narrative, cinematic, polemical and theoretical works. Course taught in English; students who wish to do so may complete some readings in French. May be taken for credit toward the French and Francophone Studies major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course introduces students to selected works of Japanese literature from the 20th century. The course will cover a wide range of prose fiction including autobiographical fiction, realist and fantastic novels as well as works in popular literature genres, including detective and satirical fiction. We will explore the ambivalent ways in which Japanese writers incorporated Western literary theories and concepts into the domestic literary tradition in their efforts to create a “modern Japanese literature.” In addition to the impact of industrialization on human perception and writers’ narrative modes, we will consider how modern printing technologies changed reading practices. Course taught in English. May be elected as Japanese 400.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course explores the theme of youth and adolescence in literary and cinematic works from late 19th-century to contemporary Japan. It examines how the development of industrial capitalism, Japanese colonialism, World War II, the US occupation, the regional Cold War order, the Japanese economic miracle, and the recent recession have been presented differently when we employ the perspective of youth. The course introduces the following key topics: sexuality, romance, friendship, same-sex love, education, family, ethnic identity, disability and anxiety. Particular issues that young people wrestle with have varied in each period. However, youth and adolescents have continuously grappled with the idea of "social identities" that navigate them into mature adulthood or socially expected gender norms, such as masculinity and femininity. Young people's hopes, dreams, disillusionment, frustrations, and struggles will be examined through selected literary and cinematic works, as well as music, visual images, and magazines. The historical approach to literary, cinematic, and other media works provides comparative context to bridge our understanding of representation and the social context negotiated by creators and recipients. May be elected as Japanese 423. This course may be taken for credit toward the Japanese major. May be taken for credit toward the Film and Media Studies or Gender Studies major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)

This course explores a wide range of cultural expressions from premodern to contemporary Japan: epic narratives, local legends, folktales, urban legends, stories of the supernatural,  magic, music, religious festivals, manga, anime, and film. Rather than focusing on traditional sources in the study of Japanese culture (art and literature of the nobility, imperial anthologies, religious doctrines, etc.), we will consider non-elite modes of expression. Through our discussions and readings, we will also tackle some of the ideas and assumptions underlying the notion of the folk. Who are the folk? From when and where does the concept of a folk people originate inside and outside of Japan? Is the folk still a viable, relevant category today? How does it treat regional versus national identity? As we analyze the construction of this concept, we will consider its implications for the Japanese and our own perception of Japan. Includes works by Kunio Yanagita, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Fumiko Enchi, Kyōka Izumi, Shigeru Mizuki, Lafcadio Hearn, Akinari Ueda and many others. May be elected as Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 224 or Japanese 224. Distribution areas: Cultural Pluralism, Humanities, Global Cultures and Languages, The Individual and Society, Studying the Past.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: The Individual and Society (TIS)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Studying the Past (STP)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course introduces representative works in Japanese literature that address human-nonhuman relationships. We will explore how each work presents a cosmology of its own, released from strict nature-culture and subject-object divisions. While paying attention to specific anthropogenic environmental changes that the writers are responding to, we will also consider how their perspectives and attunement to surrounding presences- including the dead- might enhance our capacity to imagine a life with others on an imperiled planet. In addition to literary texts, some films and anime will be included. May be elected as Japanese 425.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)

This course examines the social construction of minority groups and the intersections with race, class, gender, and sexuality through the prism of films, literature, and other visual media. By examining the legacy of Japanese colonialism in Asia, the US occupation, the creation of the regional Cold War order, and the consumer society, the course will engage students with discussions of current literary and cultural systems, minority literature, Ainu and Okinawan cultures, non-fictional works on the Brazilian community and Filipino workers, residential Korean literature, Chinese literary culture, and African American culture. This course is based on the premise that films and literature are never merely diversion or entertainment. Instead, they provide us with stories, images, and scripts that enable us to understand different social identities, cultural ideologies, community formations, and institutional arrangements. By looking at literary and cinematic works, we aim to gain insights into how these representations consequently shape and influence our understanding of “people” in the real world. We will read literary works by Oe Kenzaburo, Kirino Natsuo, Ri Kaisei, Hirabayashi Taiko, Hayashi Fumiko, Murakami Haruki, and Yoshimoto Banana and examine films by Imamura Shohei, Ichikawa Kon, Kurosawa Akira, Kawase Naomi, Miyazaki Hayao and Mizoguchi Kenji. May be taken for credit toward the Film & Media Studies major or minor or the Gender Studies major or minor. May be elected as Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 226 or Japanese 226. Distribution areas: Humanities, Cultural Pluralism, Global Cultures and Languages, Power and Equity, Writing Across Contexts.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Writing Across Contexts (WAC)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)

This course provides a critical exploration of masculinity in French and Francophone film and fiction. In examining the politics of gendered and racial representations of masculinity, we ask: What types of desires and actions are associated with certain models of masculinity? How does France’s colonial heritage impact and inform the projection of its own masculinity and that of its formerly colonized others? How do writers, theorists, and filmmakers unsettle the fantasy of French masculinity? This course also takes up masculinity’s vexed relation to femininity, tracking how the ideological production of the latter is often premised on the former’s hegemonic stance. Short papers, oral presentations, and active participation are required. May be elected as Gender Studies 230 or Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies 230.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

Since the 1920s, the rise of cinema has reinvented the Chinese artistic sphere, providing artists and producers alike with a modern medium of expression. While the emergence of a movie-going culture has created new audiences in a shifting society, the stories and their subject matter have been largely carried over from literature. Currently, over 65% of Chinese films are adapted from literary works, a statistic that suggests Chinese literature as an extension as well as reinterpretation of the culture’s literary tradition. This class will discuss literary works and their movie adaptations comparatively. By considering both types of media, it will analyze the emergence of the new cinematic tradition while fostering a debate over the emergence of the 20th and 21st Century Chinese identity. May be taken for credit toward the South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Film and Media Studies major or Chinese minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

Nearly all important literary experiments and movements in contemporary Chinese culture and literature refashion the image of the young generation.  This image often serves as the vehicle for cultural revolution and offers a window into major genres and structures within contemporary Chinese culture. This course explores the conceptions and formulations of the “new generation” through selected writers, playwrights, and artists, and in relation to larger socio-historical, cultural and geopolitical movements. This course will expand students’ understanding of youth culture to include a wide array of aesthetic and political appropriations within different frameworks, developing a nuanced understanding of changing cultural constructions of the youth beyond the traditional binary of the alternative and the oppositional. May be taken for credit toward the South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies major or the Chinese minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Textual Analysis (TA)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Global Cultures and Languages (GCL)
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Writing Across Contexts (WAC)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

A theme of solitude runs through the veins of much of Japanese literature.  Through studies of selected works of some of significant writers from Japan, we will explore various literary renditions of solitude.  Our concern in this course extends beyond a sense of alienation from others to a more essential sense of estrangement from self, one’s own language, and conventional temporality.  We will also ruminate on solitude as an origin of literary imagination.  The list of writers may include Yukio Mishima, Kobo Abe, Kenzaburo Oe, Mieko Kanai, Haruki Murakami and Toh Enjoji. May be taken for credit toward the South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies major or Japanese major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)

Trauma has attracted critical attention as a limit case through which to explore the nature of selfhood, language, memory and power, and the ethical and political implications of representing violence. Taking contemporary examples of race- and gender-based violence, their intersections, and their specificities as a point of departure, students will examine debates in scholarship and activism over definitions of trauma, its personal and collective impacts, and the social, cultural, and political actions to be taken in its wake.  We will pay particular attention to questions of narrative genre, medium and transmission, as well as the role of commemoration in projects to combat violence. May be taken for credit toward the Gender Studies major or the Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies major. May be elected as Gender Studies 320 or Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies 320.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

In this course we will explore selected works of Japanese fiction and film created during the “postmodern” period (from 1980 to the present.) During this period, the sense of belonging to a traditional community such as nation and family is said to have weakened—or perhaps dissipated altogether— in Japan. The overarching question we engage with is what kinds of different communities and subjectivities are imagined in and through literary and filmic texts during this period. Hence, we will not treat these works merely as representations of contemporary Japanese society but also as the sites where creative efforts to imagine different forms of community are unfolding. We will conduct close readings of each literary and filmic text and examine their varying functions within their socio-historical context particularly the economic bubble and subsequent recession. In order to do a contextual reading, along with assigned fiction and filmic texts, we will read works from such fields as cultural studies, anthropology, and critical theory. In so doing, students will be expected to constantly question their assumptions about contemporary Japanese culture and society. May be taken for credit toward the South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies major or Japanese major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

In this course we focus on the literary works and films of Japan’s post-WWII period from the mid-1940s through the 1970s and explore the ways in which writers and filmmakers responded to the social and cultural transformations brought about by war, defeat, occupation, and recovery. The main questions to be addressed include: How did writers and filmmakers engage with the question of war responsibility in and through their works? What does it mean to “take responsibility for war”? How do their works, at both levels of form and content, critique and undo the official national narrative that largely coincided with the modernization theory put forth in the early 1960s? How long does the “postwar” last? Taught in English. May be taken for credit toward the South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies major or the Japanese major or minor. May be elected as Japanese 438.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

Can cinematic representations of the domestic worker (maid, nanny, butler), once merely a disparaged stock character relegated to supporting roles, embody the complex intersectionality of gender, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic differences? This course examines the degree to which contemporary films from Hollywood and Latin America reinforce, challenge, or subvert traditional stereotypes of the subservient and docile housekeeper in depicting complex subjectivities that expose and contest outdated tropes, calling into question both social and cultural conventions. Together we will examine structural and aesthetic devices that accompany this shift in representation from marginalized invisibility to an increasingly empowered, independent subject under the scrutiny of the camera’s gaze. Students can expect to discuss recurring thematic issues including classism, sexism, ethnic bias, strained family dynamics, repressed conflicts, and clashing class expectations. We also will consider how these films, while centered on the ways in which individuals navigate hierarchical power dynamics within the intimate confines of the private home, critique social and economic inequalities within the broader context of a society or nation. Potential works under study include those produced in countries with rich cinematic histories including Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States alongside recent productions from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru; genres under study include filmic shorts, fictional features, and documentary films. Course taught in English, coursework in English. Evaluation will be based upon class participation, formal oral presentations, written responses, and a final research project. May be taken for credit toward the Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies major, Film and Media Studies major, or Gender Studies major. May be elected as Hispanic Studies 451 with a prerequisite of Hispanic Studies 341, 342, 343 or 344, or consent of instructor.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

Selected problems of developments in a non-English literature. Such topics as Medieval Courtly Literature, Scandinavian Drama, European Romanticism, Twentieth Century German Fiction, Existentialism, the Enlightenment, the Picaresque and Symbolism may be studied. All material will be read in English translation. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 1 Max Credits 3

Directed reading and preparation of a critical paper or papers on a topic suggested by the student. The project must be approved by the staff. The number of students accepted for this course will depend on the availability of the staff.

Prerequisites

Consent of instructor.

Credits 4

This course will expose students to the major contemporary theoretical approaches to literary studies. We will examine a broad array of critical schools and perspectives, including reader-response theory, feminism, poststructuralism, and postcolonial studies. We will pay special attention to the recent “Ethical Turn” in literary studies influenced by the works of French philosophers Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. May be taken for credit toward the French and Francophone Studies major, Gender Studies major, or Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies major.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

Since the publication of Maus, graphic novels and comics have come to be understood as challenging, artistic hybrid texts that employ complex literary and visual strategies to engage diverse themes of historical, social and aesthetic import. In this course we will study the works of prominent creators within the Hispanic graphic novel tradition alongside renowned graphic novelists from around the world. After considering the role of translation with respect to graphic narratives, we will explore the formal qualities and artistic innovations of landmark, transnational works. Theoretical, structural and semiotic analyses (Scott McCloud, Santiago García, Ana Merino, Thierry Groensteen) will be read together with primary texts. Readings may include wordless masterpieces (such as the works of Lynd Ward, Frans Masereel, Shaun Tan, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá); experimental texts that overtly deconstruct traditional book formats (such as Guillermo Peña's Codex Espangliensis, Joe Sacco’s The Great War, Pascal Rabaté's Fenêtres sur rue, matinées, soirées, Richard McGuirre’s Here and Chris Ware's Building Stories), and highly stylized, intertextual or metafictional masterworks (such as Antonio Altarriba and Kim’s “La casa del sol naciente” and David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp). All works will be read in English translation. Course will be taught in English. May be taken for credit toward the Hispanic Studies major or the Film and Media Studies major. Applies to the Narrative/Essay or Visual Cultures requirement for the Hispanic Studies major.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)