Princeton: Com 373, Eng 384: World Literature: Comparative Cosmologies

We normally imagine that the cosmological impulse to describe a total world (of the kind that appears in Plato’s Timaeus) disappears as the field of knowledge is split up, via modern life, into its new parts (religion divided from astronomy, philosophy from physics, biology from history). But what happens when the impulse to cosmology, which we think of as pre-modern, crosses over the modern divide? Are we still world-makers and world-thinkers (about, for instance, “globalization”)? This course begins with a quick overview of premodern cosmological thought; develops tools for thinking cosmologically in the modern age; and then pivots to a series of modern literary works, asking what kinds of worlds they build. We will do cosmological analysis, more or less, on texts that live in a world “beyond” cosmology, asking what they tell us about literature in general, and about the concept of “world literature.” Novels from England, Germany, Sweden, Japan, Argentina, India, and Hong Kong; all readings in English translation.

Click here for the syllabus.


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