Online Refresher Course in Arts (Literature & Culture)

By Prof. Dhananjay Singh   |   UGC-HRDC, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi.
Learners enrolled: 2716
Literature is as old as human culture and civilization. Its beginnings go back to the
primeval human desire to make sense of and reproduce the meanings and sounds of
the external universe and those in the internal universe, for example, what our Rishi-s
did in the Rigveda. Every new genre of literature is borne out of an attempt to organize
or reform human societies such as the fables of the Buddha in the Jatakas, or the odes
of Confucius in the Shijing. Three acts of literature, firstly narration as in Homer’s Iliad,
secondly enactment as in Bharata’s Natyashashtra, and thirdly song and dance as in
the Chinese opera Zaju or the Baiga dance-song of the Baiga tribes of Madhya Pradesh
have been the dominant modes of literary expression across the world cultures.

This course World Literature and Literary Cultures: Genres and Texts offers an
introduction to the key literary forms and texts from around the world, both traditional
and modern. The course is premised upon the universality of literary experience. Even
before the category of “world literature” came to be discussed after its famous coinage
by the German writer Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), universalism was the driving
impulse behind expression of all literary cultures. Therefore, it is not surprising that the
Indian book of fables The Panchatantra travelled across the Arabian seas to Persia and
the Arab world in the 6 th century CE, and from there to the European countries, and also
to Tibet and other South East Asian countries to become a quintessential text of “world
The first section of the course would introduce literary genres and texts from the
ancient world civilizations, India, Greece, China and Persia. The major literary genres
discussed with literary examples would be Natya (Theatre), Itihasa (Epic), Katha (Fable)
(India), Tragedy (Greece), Shi, Poetry and Youji Wenxue, travel literature (Chinese).
The second section of the course would introduce genres and compositions from
early second millennium to the advent of European modernity in the literary cultures of
Asia such as India, Iran, Japan, and China. An important objective of this section would
be to analyze the influences of these literary cultures and their genres on the literary
cultures of Europe, for example, Haiku and Tanka (Japan), Noh Theatre (Japan).
The third, and the final, section of the course would deliberate upon the category
of “world literature,” in modern, postcolonial and global contexts. The course at this
point will revisit the prediction of Goethe that “national literature” was a thing of past,
and the future belonged to “world literature.” In the first part of this section, the course
would introduce key genres and texts of modern literature from Russia, France, the US
and England as expressions of modernity and the associated socio-political attributes of
their literary cultures. In the second part of this section, postcolonial literatures from
India, Ireland, and the Americas would be introduced.
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Not Applicable
Duration : 16 weeks
Category :
  • Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT)
Level : Postgraduate
Start Date : 01 Dec 2020
End Date : 31 Mar 2021
Enrollment Ends : 31 Dec 2020
Exam Date : 10 Apr 2021 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Section 1: Literature of the Ancient World Civilizations
Module 1 : Perrunkappiam, Epic (Tamil, Indian)
Module 2 : Fable (Sanskrit, Indian)
Module 3: Tragedy (Greek & European)
Module 4: Natya [Theatre]- I (Sanskrit, Indian)
Module 5: Natya [Theatre]- II (Sanskrit, Indian)
Module 6: Genres of Ancient Chinese Literature (Chinese)

Section 2: World Literature from the Early Second Millennium Before the Advent
of Modernity
Module 7: Genres of Bhakti Poetry-I (Sanskrit and Modern Indian languages, )
Module 8: Genres of Bhakti Poetry-II (Sanskrit and Modern Indian languages)
Module 9: Vacana (Kannada, Indian)
Module 10: Genres of Sufi Poetry Poetry- I (Persian and Modern Indian languages, Indian)
Module 11:Genres of Sufi Poetry- II (Persian and Modern Indian languages, Indian)
Module 12: Ghazal (Urdu and English, Indian)
Module 13: Nazm (Urdu, Indian)
Module 14: Kahani (Hindi, Indian)
Module 15: Haiku (Japanese)
Module 16: Noh (Japanese)
Module 17: Kabuki (Japanese)
Module 18: Sonnet (European)

Section 3: Modern and Postcolonial Literature
Module 19: Anti-Utopian Novel (Russian)
Module 20: Modernist Poetry (French)
Module 21: Theatre of Cruelty (French)
Module 22: Epic Theatre (German)
Module 23: Poor Theatre (Polish)
Module 24: Theatre of the Oppressed (Portuguese, Brazilian)
Module 25: Ethnic Fiction -I (African American)
Module 26: Ethnic Fiction-II (African American)
Module 27: Postcolonial Irish drama-I (English, Irish)
Module 28: Postcolonial Irish drama-II (English, Irish)
Module 29: Science Fiction (English, Indian)
Module 30: Ethnic Poetry & Performance- Baiga Dance-Songs-I (Indian)
Module 31: Ethnic Poetry & Performance- Baiga Dance-Songs-II (Indian)
Module 32: American Fiction (English, American)
Module 33: Dalit Autobiography (Hindi and Marathi, Indian)
Module 34: Aboriginal Australian Autobiography (English, Australian)
Module 35: Short Fiction by Women Writers-I: (English, Indian)
Module 36: Short Fiction by Women Writers-II: (English, Indian)
Module 37: Autobiography(Spanish)
Module 38: Picaresque Novel (Spanish)
Module 39: South Asian Novel (English, South Asian)
Module 40: Feminist Theatre & Performance (Indian)

Instructor bio

Prof. Dhananjay Singh

UGC-HRDC, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi.
Dhananjay Singh is Professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi, where he teaches comparative poetics, Natyashashtra, Indian
poetics, Indian Intellectual Tradition, English poetry, Irish literature and
postcolonial literature. He has published research articles and essays in
these areas. He is the author of Fables in the Indian Narrative Tradition:
An Analytical Study (2011), and Conceptual Origins of Theatre in India
(forthcoming, 2020). He is Assistant Editor of Encyclopaedia of Indian
Poetics, a project of Sahitya Akademi (Indian Academy of Letters), New
Delhi and Union Academique Internationale (UAI), Brussels. He is also
Assistant Editor of Mutual Regards: An Anthology of Indo-Irish Writings
(2017). He was Visiting Professor at University of Bergamo, Italy,2014;
International Visiting Fellow at Grinnell College, Grinnell, IOWA, USA,
2015; and Visiting Research Fellow at Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity
College Dublin, 2017.

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