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21st Century

World Literature
D.M. Reyes
Department of English
Ateneo de Manila University

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READING ASSIGNMENTS
p. 4 “East Window”

p. 8 “Homework”

p. 9 “Eating Fried Chicken”

pp. 18-19 “The Planes After Pearl Harbor”

p. 20 “Dream #6”

p. 21 “A Globe”

pp. 27-29 “Eleven”

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LEARNING COMPETENCIES
Survey various forms of expression in 21st century
literary writing

Read texts perceptively and respond critically

Recognize major themes and concerns in 21st century


writing

Appreciate and evaluate literary style

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LEARNING COMPETENCIES
Gain exposure to global cultures through literature

Foster recognition of and respect for diversities in global


culture

Examine literary representations of cultural conflicts and


assess their proposed resolutions

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LITERARY GENRES
Poetry

Drama

Fiction

Nonfiction

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THE 21ST CENTURY
Begins properly in 2001

Spans an extended viewpoint of 100 years

Focuses on imaginative writing

Traces the artistic representation of shared and familiar


experiences

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World Map
CULTURAL AREAS
Africa

Middle East

Anglo-American (traditions of England and America)

Asia & the Pacific (includes Australia and New Zealand)

Europe

Latin America (rendered through the Spanish and


Portuguese languages)

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Cultural Map
WHICH AUTHORS HAVE YOU READ?
Africa

Middle East

Anglo-American (traditions of England and America)

Asia & the Pacific (includes Australia and New Zealand)

Europe

Latin America

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PROBLEMS
So far, only 16 years have elapsed since 2001

A question about authors

Benchmarking with a literary canon

Perceived impact of works

Establishing publication dates

Access to protected works

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WAYS OF SOLVING THE PROBLEM
Global benchmarking

The case of The Norton Anthology of World Literature

The 20th Century: Modern and Contemporary Literatures

From 1900 to the present

Keywords: Modern, Postwar, Post-Colonial, Contemporary

Figuring out differences from but also links with Grade 10


World Literature

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4 INITIAL CONCERNS
TEXT (form, substance)

AUTHOR (style, sources and influences)

WORLD (culture, outlook, material history, language)

READER (exposure, capacity, limitations)

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AUTHORS
Born in the previous century

Should have made it to 2001

A majority should still be publishing

Reflect time-bound changes in sensibility, leanings, stance

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GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Cultural diversity informs the current world.

Many times, cultural diversity provokes conflict.

Yet diverse global conditions also raise prospects for cultural


cooperation.

Literature is an artistic window that allows us to explore the


dynamics of conflict, cultural cooperation, and their
consequences.

To read literature is to develop personal skills for honoring


cultural diversity.

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GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Reading literature hones our critical response to cultural conflict,
cooperation, and their consequences to humanity and its various
contexts.

More importantly, literature hones our capacities for dialogical interaction


and global citizenship by respecting difference and multicultural realities.

Literature inscribes the discourse of diversity through different literary


forms and outlooks.

Language, culture, and translation support this undertaking.

Attention to language and competence in recognizing different forms and


conventions of literary expression enable us to respect global diversity.

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LOOKING FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
In terms of shared experiences

In terms of best practices

In terms of common struggles

In terms of significant resolutions

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Power
Adrienne Rich (American feminist poet)

The poem presents two situations

Situation 1: the upturned earth reveals an


amber bottle

Situation 2: a story read by the persona


features the scientist Marie Curie suffering
from radiation sickness

Marie Curie’s phenomenal achievements

(Radium) as the ambivalent element that


Madame Curie wanted to isolate

The powerful substance made her suffer

It made her famous but it also caused her


terrible sickness and eventual death

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Calls attention to the denials of
Power Marie Curie

A sense of personal achievement

Hint of admirable sacrifice

But also her unwillingness to face


the truth

Both fame and damage exist in the


same breath

The ambiguous condition that


defines being a woman

The recognition of a paradox


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21ST-CENTURY ISSUES
DIVERSITY—many and different ways of doing things; recognition
and acceptance of otherness; tracing the politics of cultural
identity

COLONIAL EXPERIENCE AND POST-COLONIAL RESPONSE—active,


principled contention with the lingering experience of power
deprivation and cultural oppression

GLOBALISATION—opening of established borders; reduction of


distinct territories into a global village

TECHNOLOGY—remarkable achievements in material realities


dramatically changing global habits and ways of life

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21ST-CENTURY ISSUES
GOVERNANCE—people’s assertion to take part in decision-making,
formulating policies, and directing their collective future

TERRORISM—historical retaliation, violent reactions of oppressed


cultures, attempts at rectifying injustice

ECOLOGICAL CRISIS—unfolding threats to nature; changes in the


natural order; destruction and adverse consequences for cultures

GLOBAL EPIDEMICS—spread of deadly diseases that threaten or


endanger the human population

INTERDISCIPLINARITY—perceiving relations and connections among


various intellectual systems; network as cognitive procedure
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GLOBALISATION
Opening of borders (geographical, cultural, personal)

Promotion and spread of economic interests

Migration and survival in new destinations

Cultural tension

Struggle and survival of language, cultural heritage, and


values

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INTERDISCIPLINARITY
Recognizing the presence and influence of intertexts in
the literary experience

The literary interacts with other intellectual systems

History, Science, Social Science, Theology

Other Arts (Music, Visual Arts, etc.)

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What issue does the text dramatize?

What different dimensions of the issue are presented?

What discourse emerges from the text’s process of


revelation? What sustained experience can we glean from
it?

How does the issue affect other people or society?

What good things come from it?

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What conflicts and problems about human societies
does the text reveal?

What consequences are suggested?

What kind of resolution does the text propose?

How does the text define justice?

How does the text value cultural diversity?

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Power (Issue Synthesis)
Science and its careful way of
grappling with power

The laboratory procedure of isolation

A process of revealing previously


unknown benefits (radium as cure)

Courage in confronting potential


dangers

Scientists gain fame and security


because of their discoveries

But as people, they become


vulnerable to unknown forms of
harm
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Power (Issue Synthesis)
The human tendency to
persist and to deny

Insights into Madame Curie’s


character: heroism and
untruth

Paradox as outlook: a more


complex way of reframing
our insights

The human capacity to revisit


and assess old truths
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AREAS OF PEDAGOGICAL CONCERN
Reading

Writing

Language

Creative expression

Practical projects

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WRITING
Compose a feature story about a local scientist

Narrate both the scientist’s significant contributions to


the local community and the difficulties that he or she
had to bear

Sharpen your subject’s psychological profile

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CREATIVE EXPRESSION
Write a poem imitating the structure of “Power”

Focus on another world-famous woman, celebrating her


achievements but also recognizing her difficult struggles

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APPLIED PROJECT
Do a group documentary on a local person who has scored
something significant

Give some focus on your subject’s personal struggles

Balance your treatment by tracing the personal difficulties,


forces that sustain it, their effects, and what the person has
done to surmount the hardship

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What issue does the text dramatize?

What different dimensions of the issue are presented?

What discourse emerges from the text’s process of


revelation? What sustained experience can we glean from
it?

How does the issue affect other people or society?

What good things come from it?

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What conflicts and problems about human societies
does the text reveal?

What consequences are suggested?

What kind of resolution does the text propose?

How does the text define justice?

How does the text value cultural diversity?

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STRUCTURE OF LITERARY EXPRESSION
Observable realities: literal situations

Figurative dimension

Tone: the writer’s attitude concerning his or her materials

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CONFLICT
A complicating event or situation

It upsets a given state of balance

Introduced by an “antagonist”

May be internal, external

Personal, relational, social

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FORMS OF CONFLICT
Humanity versus itself

Humanity against nature

Humanity against someone else

Humanity against society

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RESOLUTION
A way of bridging conflict

A proposal for settling problems

May be internal, external

Actual or symbolic

Has obvious and subtle consequences

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HUMAN AGENCY
The power/capacity of human beings for action

Physical, cognitive, affective

May be deeply personal

But influenced by ideology

Reflects social values that are either popular or unpopular

Has the power to change the course of things

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SOURCES & INFLUENCES
Origins, inspiration for creativity

Material realities of writing

What affects and directs the writings of authors

Imbibed by authors through reading

Filtered through their cultures

Transcends borders

Honed through extensive reading and writing

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FORMAL DIVERSITY
Popular forms

Young adults and children

Visual culture (comics, films, paintings)

Brief forms (texts, flash/sudden fiction)

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FORMAL DIVERSITY
Preference for the short

Incorporation of technology

Cross-platform expression

Interest in experimentation

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NON-REALIST FORMS
Magic realism

Metafiction

Speculative Fiction

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Naguib Mahfouz (Egyptian
fictionist)
Dream #6
Winner of the Nobel Prize for
Literature

The recollection of a dream told as


flash fiction

A vignette of the bond between


teacher and student

Narrator is old, recalling his


teacher’s death some 60 years ago

A strange tale: the dead return,


reaching out to the living
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The strange errand of correcting
a mistake
Dream #6
Undoing mistaken lessons that
the teacher had once given his
students about poetry and faith

The stress on rectifying


something that was not done
correctly

Involving the shaping of young


minds

Involving principles of good


and evil
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The dead teacher’s principled
return to undo personal errors
Dream #6
Shaykh Muharram’s amazing
capacity to learn even in the
afterlife

Muharram’s persistence: the


impossible distance does not
matter to him

The unbroken, credible


communion between the living
and the departed

Even in death, principled men


can teach us something
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21ST-CENTURY ISSUES
DIVERSITY—many and different ways of doing things; recognition
and acceptance of otherness; tracing the politics of cultural
identity

COLONIAL EXPERIENCE AND POST-COLONIAL RESPONSE—active,


principled contention with the lingering experience of power
deprivation and cultural oppression

GLOBALISATION—opening of established borders; reduction of


distinct territories into a global village

TECHNOLOGY—remarkable achievements in material realities


dramatically changing global habits and ways of life

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21ST-CENTURY ISSUES
GOVERNANCE—people’s assertion to take part in decision-making,
formulating policies, and directing their collective future

TERRORISM—historical retaliation, violent reactions of oppressed


cultures, attempts at rectifying injustice

ECOLOGICAL CRISIS—unfolding threats to nature; changes in the


natural order; destruction and adverse consequences for cultures

GLOBAL EPIDEMICS—spread of deadly diseases that threaten or


endanger the human population

INTERDISCIPLINARITY—perceiving relations and connections among


various intellectual systems; network as cognitive procedure
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PERCEIVING DIVERSITY
Race

Class (social/economic standing)

Gender

Ethnicity

Cultural practices and beliefs

Language

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RACE
Major divisions of humankind

Identified through physical


characteristics and observable practices

Presumed superiority of certain races

Aesthetic, intellectual, habitual,


affective expressions

Recorded instances of colonialism and


oppression

Issues in identity politics

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CLASS
Social division

Signifies status, buying power, and


privileges

Rich, middle class, mass

One’s material reality shapes one’s


consciousness

Issue of production and consumption

False consciousness

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GENDER
Gender and sexuality

What is assigned at birth


and what develops from
social expectations and
personal circumstances

Self-expression, pleasure,
but also survival

A matter of roles,
performance, stereotypes

Forms of gender oppression

Gender agency 51
ETHNICITY Belonging to a social group
with common traditions

Power in ethnicity

Ethnic conflicts

Domination

Survival and preservation of


heritage

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East Window R. Parthasarathy (Indian poet)

Observing a conflict in nature (the garden


view of incompatible trees, as lent by the
window)

Cultural differences: a couple violently


quarreling

The body’s needs in the couple’s shared


life (food, shelter, material security,
intimacy)

Beyond the body’s needs, the broad


longings of the human mind

The need to expand one’s outlook, to


understand

Given the conflict, identifying the possible


source of resolution
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East Window The window view points to a
miracle: a uniquely colored flower
has been allowed to bloom

Being allowed to be oneself

The persona presents himself to be


exile

Exile as aloneness; love as


consolation amid the difficulties of
exile

Love as acceptance, understanding

East window: a view into another


sensibility, another way of being

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Linh Dinh (Vietnamese-
American poet)

The persona addresses his


“brother”

Conveys a deep sense of


hunger

Hunger lets one forget human


Eating Fried Chicken
principles and important things

It makes one forget important


personal concerns,
circumstances, and aspirations

Hunger (in its rawness) reduces


humanity to a brazen craving

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Some of the world’s goods are the
lone privilege of the First World

Now and then, the deprived lose


their sense of control, savoring what
they have been denied

Tone change: sympathy prevails


over the persona’s cravings
Eating Fried Chicken
The persona understands the
seemingly mad clamor of the world:
chaos, riots, and the collective anger
resulting from deprivation

Understanding senseless death

The value of compassion for a


shared misery
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Eleven Sandra Cisneros

Not the birthday that


makes one 11 but the
unexpected situation that
could dash happiness

A rude awakening

A perceptive, honest, and


vulnerable child narrator

The victim of an awkward


situation in school

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Eleven The situation becomes an
unfair judgment of her person
and social status

Portrays an awkward event,


lies, unfair judgment,
undiscerning authority, and
hypocritical behavior

Narrator discloses the need to


be vulnerable, to cry, but also
to come to terms with an
experience that has diminished
her

Ironies in a happy,
heartbreaking occasion
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Eleven The desire to speak up and
summon a wise perspective

The wish to protect oneself


from an unkind situation

Falsely singled out and judged,


victim of lies and undiscerning
authority, forced to wear
something that is not hers

The ugly sweater becomes a


judgment of her character and
social standing

The narrator’s dignity is


crushed
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Eleven The story’s world ignores her
principled protest

Summoning courage and truth

The narrator succeeds but the


world dismisses her honesty

Yet it is in the internal struggle


where she grows up
remarkably

This is both pain and happiness

This becomes the hard-won


definition of growing up and
growing old
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CRITICAL POSITION
Resil Mojares

Do not separate Phil. Lit from World Lit

Locate Phil. literary texts as part of the global idiom

Recognize specific linguistic experiences (serious efforts


to locate and value translation and other global priorities)

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