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Thread: Your national vs. world literature

  1. #1
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    Your national vs. world literature

    Alright, I don't know if this is allowed. I wanted to put it to chat or to general teaching, but then I figured it actually has some good grounds for discussion too, so I put it to general literature, moderators please remove if it's better suited someplace else.
    A friend is doing this thing for her class at school, and as she knows I hang at some literary forum (), she asked me to post it and get some responses (she speaks no English, ergo she cannot do it herself). Though the survey is far from perfect, I actually thought it was curious enough to be posted, so I agreed. Some of those questions are actually pretty good grounds for discussion, and I'd love the thread to eventually go that way, and 'by the way' I will collect data for her.
    You don't need to state your country if you don't wish to.


    1. In your country, as a part of your native language / literature class, or the equivalent, is exclusively your national literature read, or world literature as well?
    Were there special classes for national/world literature or was it put in one class? If the former, were those classes mandatory?

    2. The curriculum your professors used to teach you world literature was:
    a) prescribed by the government, i.e. it was national curriculum for that class/area;
    b) basically prescribed by the government, but allowing manipulations up to some extent by individual professor;
    c) prescribed for lesser than national area, i.e. it followed curriculum for specific district, community, etc;
    d) entirely up to your professor.

    3. From the final 3 years of high school - or the equivalent - in your country, do you remember reading non-national literature from: [select all that applies]
    a) the period of classical antiquity (ancient Greece/Rome);
    b) middle ages epic works, or excerpts from them, of other nations (e.g. Chanson de Roland, Beowulf, Kalevala, etc);
    c) XX century and beyond literature from USA;
    d) other literature from any anglophone countries;
    e) France - any period;
    f) Italy - any period;
    g) Russia - any period;
    h) non-European, non-Israeli and non-American (both Americas included) literature from any country and any historical period.

    4. Was world literature on the level of final 3 years of high school / equivalent studied chronologically, or by some other criteria? If so, what was the criteria?
    Was national literature on the same level of education studied chronologically or by some other criteria (which)?

    5. During the final 3 years of high school / equivalent, when studying national literature, you read: [select all that applies]
    a) whole works, be it of poetry or prose;
    b) excerpts from larger works;
    c) small in size works of poetry or prose (poems, short stories, etc);
    d) drama;
    e) literary criticism BY national authors studied;
    f) literary criticism ABOUT national authors studied BY other national authors;
    g) literary criticism ABOUT national authors studied BY non-national authors.

    6. Practically the same question, only it is about world literature this time.

    7. When teaching national and world literature, your professor:
    a) had the textbook which they followed;
    b) had the textbook which they basically followed, modifying the content a bit and adding their own things to it, but not making more than roughly 20% modifications;
    c) had the textbook and used their own materials approximately the same;
    d) had the textbook only formally, but taught their own materials (not using textbook more than 10%);
    e) taught only their own materials, without even formal presence of the textbook.

    8. Do you believe that during your schooling you were exposed to enough foreign literature?

    9. Do you believe that during your schooling you have got to know your national literature well enough?

    10. Do you believe world literature should be taught as a compulsory separate subject or as a part of already existing compulsory subject: [select all that you think]
    a) on the level of primary education;
    b) on the level of middle-school;
    c) on the level of final 3 years of high school or the equivalent.

    11. If you agree that the world literature studied should be compulsory in some way, do you believe only works which roughly correspond to your civilisation should be studied, or also works from other civilisations? (NB: Studied, not mentioned in class.)

    12. When reading books of your own choice, what is approximately the ratio of national/world literature you read?

    13. Do you think the presence or lack thereof of world literature in your education influenced the ratio from the previous question?

  2. #2
    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    That is a fairly interesting questionaire, but I don't think that all of the questions are well worded, and educational standards have changed greatly in many places, so answers for an education that ended fifteen years ago may not be relevant to the same place now.

    1. some world lit. -- mixed among several, with the main being mandatory
    2. c
    3. a,b,c,d,e,f,g
    4. Don't know
    5. a,,b,c
    6. ?
    7. 3
    8. Uncertain
    9. No
    10. a,b,c
    11. Yes
    12. uncertain
    13. NA

  3. #3
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    I don't think I can answer this. So far in my education (just finished highschool) in Canada, we pretty much only read American Canadian and English authors. The few exceptions were some poems, The River by Derek Walcott, and a few others. For the most part it was American and English literature, with the exception of some short stories, essays and poems which were Canadian. Everything I know of world literature I taught myself with the help of this forum and Harold Bloom's Western Cannon.

  4. #4
    Wandering Child Annamariah's Avatar
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    1. In your country, as a part of your native language / literature class, or the equivalent, is exclusively your national literature read, or world literature as well? Were there special classes for national/world literature or was it put in one class? If the former, were those classes mandatory?

    We didn't have separate literature class, though I did took an optional literature course in high school. We had one compulsory course which was all about Finnish literature (we had to read at least 10 Finnish classics for it), but on the other courses the books we read and discussed about were mostly foreign.

    2. The curriculum your professors used to teach you world literature was:
    b) basically prescribed by the government, but allowing manipulations up to some extent by individual professor

    There is a certain national curriculum, but it depends a lot on the teacher, which books we concentrate more on and how we discuss about them.

    3. From the final 3 years of high school - or the equivalent - in your country, do you remember reading non-national literature from: [select all that applies]

    We read short excerpts from basically all the periods from antique to modern day. Then we were given some topic and we had to read two books that had the same theme but were written in different times and write an essay about them. We had a list of books we could choose from, and on that list there were a lot of books from many different countries.

    4. Was world literature on the level of final 3 years of high school / equivalent studied chronologically, or by some other criteria? If so, what was the criteria?
    Was national literature on the same level of education studied chronologically or by some other criteria (which)?

    I guess we went chronologically through the basics at first and then discussed about literature as a whole.

    5. During the final 3 years of high school / equivalent, when studying national literature, you read: [select all that applies]
    a) whole works, be it of poetry or prose;
    b) excerpts from larger works;
    c) small in size works of poetry or prose (poems, short stories, etc);
    d) drama;
    e) literary criticism BY national authors studied;
    f) literary criticism ABOUT national authors studied BY other national authors;
    g) literary criticism ABOUT national authors studied BY non-national authors.

    I guess we had something about all of those, though not that much about literary criticism, especially the last one (Finnish literature is relatively unknown outside Finland.)

    6. Practically the same question, only it is about world literature this time.

    Practically the same answer

    7. When teaching national and world literature, your professor:
    c) had the textbook and used their own materials approximately the same;

    8. Do you believe that during your schooling you were exposed to enough foreign literature?

    Yes.

    9. Do you believe that during your schooling you have got to know your national literature well enough?

    Yes.

    10. Do you believe world literature should be taught as a compulsory separate subject or as a part of already existing compulsory subject: [select all that you think]

    I think it is good as it is now, all literature being included in our Finnish courses. (The subject is called äidinkieli, mother tongue. It includes some grammar, reading and writing and discussing things. Both foreign and Finnish books are read at school.)

    11. If you agree that the world literature studied should be compulsory in some way, do you believe only works which roughly correspond to your civilisation should be studied, or also works from other civilisations? (NB: Studied, not mentioned in class.)

    I think reading is a good way to learn to know other cultures.

    12. When reading books of your own choice, what is approximately the ratio of national/world literature you read?

    I don't read much Finnish literature.

    13. Do you think the presence or lack thereof of world literature in your education influenced the ratio from the previous question?

    I don't think it has had much influence, at least in my case.

    Most people in Finland read mostly world literature, and for some people the compulsory course of Finnish literature has been a sort of eye-opener ("hey, Finnish books can actually be GOOD, I'm definitely going to read some more").
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  5. #5
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    i left my country was I was too young, but we don't really have any national literature that I know of.
    Shall these bones live?

  6. #6
    Ditsy Pixie Niamh's Avatar
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    1. In your country, as a part of your native language / literature class, or the equivalent, is exclusively your national literature read, or world literature as well?We did a bit of both
    Were there special classes for national/world literature or was it put in one class? If the former, were those classes mandatory?It was all part of the one class, English

    2. The curriculum your professors used to teach you world literature was:
    a) prescribed by the government, i.e. it was national curriculum for that class/area;
    b) basically prescribed by the government, but allowing manipulations up to some extent by individual professor;It was government prescribed but a wide choice was given for variety of choice within the curriculum
    c) prescribed for lesser than national area, i.e. it followed curriculum for specific district, community, etc;
    d) entirely up to your professor.

    3. From the final 3 years of high school - or the equivalent - in your country, do you remember reading non-national literature from: [select all that applies]
    a) the period of classical antiquity (ancient Greece/Rome);
    b) middle ages epic works, or excerpts from them, of other nations (e.g. Chanson de Roland, Beowulf, Kalevala, etc);
    c) XX century and beyond literature from USA;
    d) other literature from any anglophone countries;
    e) France - any period;
    f) Italy - any period;
    g) Russia - any period;
    h) non-European, non-Israeli and non-American (both Americas included) literature from any country and any historical period.
    depended on the year- curriculums rotated so one course would only occur once every three or four years. The choice was varied so i couldnt choose a general catagory. I myself studied Emma and Hamlet. There is always one shakespeare, and one Irish
    4. Was world literature on the level of final 3 years of high school / equivalent studied chronologically, or by some other criteria? If so, what was the criteria?N/A
    Was national literature on the same level of education studied chronologically or by some other criteria (which)?N/A

    5. During the final 3 years of high school / equivalent, when studying national literature, you read: [select all that applies]
    a) whole works, be it of poetry or prose;
    b) excerpts from larger works;
    c) small in size works of poetry or prose (poems, short stories, etc);
    d) drama;
    e) literary criticism BY national authors studied;
    f) literary criticism ABOUT national authors studied BY other national authors;
    g) literary criticism ABOUT national authors studied BY non-national authors.
    Hum... not sure what to choose here. All the national poetry we studied was in an anthology of poems with the world poetry...
    6. Practically the same question, only it is about world literature this time.
    See above ans
    7. When teaching national and world literature, your professor:
    a) had the textbook which they followed;
    b) had the textbook which they basically followed, modifying the content a bit and adding their own things to it, but not making more than roughly 20% modifications;
    c) had the textbook and used their own materials approximately the same;
    d) had the textbook only formally, but taught their own materials (not using textbook more than 10%);
    e) taught only their own materials, without even formal presence of the textbook.
    They taught with their own material.
    8. Do you believe that during your schooling you were exposed to enough foreign literature?Not in school no, but more in my spare time.

    9. Do you believe that during your schooling you have got to know your national literature well enough?Not in school no, but more in my spare time...

    10. Do you believe world literature should be taught as a compulsory separate subject or as a part of already existing compulsory subject: [select all that you think]
    a) on the level of primary education;
    b) on the level of middle-school;
    c) on the level of final 3 years of high school or the equivalent.
    Both should be combined in the one course as technically your national literature is apart of World literature.
    11. If you agree that the world literature studied should be compulsory in some way, do you believe only works which roughly correspond to your civilisation should be studied, or also works from other civilisations? (NB: Studied, not mentioned in class.)
    Anything relevent should be studied.
    12. When reading books of your own choice, what is approximately the ratio of national/world literature you read? 20% Irish, 80% world

    13. Do you think the presence or lack thereof of world literature in your education influenced the ratio from the previous question?No
    Last edited by Niamh; 02-02-2008 at 08:30 PM.
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  7. #7
    [...] Erichtho's Avatar
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    I'm from Germany.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anastasija View Post
    1. In your country, as a part of your native language / literature class, or the equivalent, is exclusively your national literature read, or world literature as well?
    Exclusively national literature.

    Were there special classes for national/world literature or was it put in one class? If the former, were those classes mandatory?
    Our German class was in secondary school almost exclusively concerned with literature, and we also read some foreign literature in the later years of foreign language education, although that was entirely up to the teacher, as far as I'm aware of. Both my German and foreign language classes (English and Russian in my case) were compulsory.

    2. The curriculum your professors used to teach you world literature was:
    a) prescribed by the government, i.e. it was national curriculum for that class/area;
    b) basically prescribed by the government, but allowing manipulations up to some extent by individual professor;
    c) prescribed for lesser than national area, i.e. it followed curriculum for specific district, community, etc;
    d) entirely up to your professor.
    Mainly b), they had a long list of literary works from which the teachers could select (mainly we read 3 or 4 works per year and additional fragments of other works/shorter prose and poetry; we also read some local authors that are probably not included in other region's curricula.


    3. From the final 3 years of high school - or the equivalent - in your country, do you remember reading non-national literature from: [select all that applies]
    a) the period of classical antiquity (ancient Greece/Rome);
    b) middle ages epic works, or excerpts from them, of other nations (e.g. Chanson de Roland, Beowulf, Kalevala, etc);
    c) XX century and beyond literature from USA;
    d) other literature from any anglophone countries;
    e) France - any period;
    f) Italy - any period;
    g) Russia - any period;
    h) non-European, non-Israeli and non-American (both Americas included) literature from any country and any historical period.
    As explained above, we read some English and Russian works in English/ Russian class, but this was to improve our reading skills rather than to learn about these literatures.

    4. Was world literature on the level of final 3 years of high school / equivalent studied chronologically, or by some other criteria? If so, what was the criteria?
    Was national literature on the same level of education studied chronologically or by some other criteria (which)?
    In the foreign language classes we read a random sample of works without getting any background, while in German class we studied the different periods, although not chronologically, and returning with inherent logic every year to Goethe and Schiller.

    5. During the final 3 years of high school / equivalent, when studying national literature, you read: [select all that applies]
    a) whole works, be it of poetry or prose;
    b) excerpts from larger works;
    c) small in size works of poetry or prose (poems, short stories, etc);
    d) drama;
    e) literary criticism BY national authors studied;
    f) literary criticism ABOUT national authors studied BY other national authors;
    g) literary criticism ABOUT national authors studied BY non-national authors.
    Everything except g); the focus was on drama.

    6. Practically the same question, only it is about world literature this time.
    -

    7. When teaching national and world literature, your professor:
    a) had the textbook which they followed;
    b) had the textbook which they basically followed, modifying the content a bit and adding their own things to it, but not making more than roughly 20% modifications;
    c) had the textbook and used their own materials approximately the same;
    d) had the textbook only formally, but taught their own materials (not using textbook more than 10%);
    e) taught only their own materials, without even formal presence of the textbook.
    e), we had textbooks in school but used them almost never.

    8. Do you believe that during your schooling you were exposed to enough foreign literature?
    No, certainly not.

    9. Do you believe that during your schooling you have got to know your national literature well enough?
    Yes, we were given an overview, learnt about the different literary periods and studied exemplary works from each period.

    10. Do you believe world literature should be taught as a compulsory separate subject or as a part of already existing compulsory subject: [select all that you think]
    a) on the level of primary education;
    b) on the level of middle-school;
    c) on the level of final 3 years of high school or the equivalent.
    c). I wished to have a literature class not only covering the national literature, but since this topic is very broad and would demand a lot of reading effort I guess it could be only studied in an elective class for those who are sincerely interested in it. Many people moaned already about as less as the couple of dramas they were assigned to read each year!

    11. If you agree that the world literature studied should be compulsory in some way, do you believe only works which roughly correspond to your civilisation should be studied, or also works from other civilisations? (NB: Studied, not mentioned in class.)
    This is very utopic. For people who are not used to reading, high literature is very time-consuming if they care to find some access; having too long reading lists would only increase the already high amount of people who do not actually read the book but get by by memorising solely study guides.

    12. When reading books of your own choice, what is approximately the ratio of national/world literature you read?
    3:7 maybe.

    13. Do you think the presence or lack thereof of world literature in your education influenced the ratio from the previous question?
    No, but I'm sure that many people are distracted from German literature because of bad reading experiences in school (if not from literature at all).

  8. #8
    Registered User Aiculík's Avatar
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    Interesting topic, Anastasija.

    I'm from Slovakia. First, just to avoid confusion - here we have
    - elementary school with 9 grades (1 - 4 are called "first level", and 5 -9 are called "second level"). Children begin education at 6.
    - middle school has 4 or 5 years (e.g. some private schools, especially if they are bilingual, i.e. if students learn some subjects in other language than Slovak - for example English, French, German and Spanish)
    - high school, which is in fact university.


    1. World literature is read as well, but it's the part of the same class. Generally, the period, e.g. "realism" is explained, then one or two world authors are read, then some national authors are read and then we compare it. What books are read depends on the grade. I think Oliver Twist is read in the 5th grade on elementary school, but e.g. Stendhal is read in the 2nd or 3rd grade on the middle school.

    2. Proffesors can change it... but there are some authors you're supposed to know at A-levels, and these have to be covered.

    3. Sure.
    a) Antigone
    b) Don Quijote, Decameron
    c) Hemingway, Twain, and many others
    d) quite a lot from UK... not one from Australia. So when we got the test from the world literature (I think I posted it here as well) at university, most of people said, surprised - but there aren't any authors from Australia! Same with other anghlophone countries
    e) Voltaire, Molliere, Mauppasant, Flaubert, Stendhal, Balzac, Romaine Rolland, Baudelaire, Rimbaud...
    f) Boccacio, Dante, Moravia
    g) Tolstoy, Chekhov, Pushkin... and Gorky.
    h) only ancient works, Gilgamesh, for example. Though they took us to the movie according to Allende's novel... but that hardly counts.

    4. Its studied chronologically. It begins in the first grade by studing antics... so by the time we get to books that could be interesting for young people (because except some "weird nerds" like me, most of my clasmates didn't really like anything before realism, which is in the 3rd grade. Both world literature and national literature are studied in this way - personally I think it's the dumbiest way there is.

    5. Well, we were supposed to read whole works. But we did all we could to bypass it.
    Literary criticism was completely ignored, and as far as I know, it still is ignored. Critics and their theories are mentioned, but never really read. Which makes it extremely difficult on the university, where you are suddenly expected to know all about criticism and professors keep asking you things like "how can you study literature if you haven't even read (add name of any critic)?", with the result that during the first year, most of students read anything they can put their hands on... which only creates total chaos in their heads.

    6. Practically same as with the national literature. Unfortunatelly.

    7. My professor used the textbook and her own materials approximately the same... the textbooks are composed according to the norms, they cover what is student expected to know at the end of the year, so they cannot be completely ignored, though he can modify it in some extent. Anyway, there are several textbooks, approved by the Ministry of Education, and the professor can choose the one he thinks will be most helpful for students, so there's no reason to ignore it or to use it only by 10%.

    8. I used to think so, until I made that test of world literature... we did read quite a lot of world authors, but they were basically from 5 - 6 countries - USA, Russia, UK, France, Italy, Germany. We didn't even study literature of our neighbours - we did mention some Czech, Hungarian or Polish authors, but that was rare and we never had to read anything by them. Could something be called "world literature", if it covers just small part of Europe and USA?

    9. I got to know our national literature... but most of people failed to get really interested. And same with the world literature. But it seems the situation can improve, as some reforms of the educational system are starting now and the literature should get more attention.

    10. It should be taught from the primary level.

    11. I think it should be studied, and perhaps compared to the national literature or the literture from the countries with similar culture. Understanding differences would help destroy prejudices.

    12. Last few years, I read world literature - authors from all over the world, that were ignored in elementary and middle school. But I try to follow Slovak literary scene as well, though besides two or three favourite authors, I'm not too impressed. And anyway, we're such a small country that there aren't that many Slovak authors. So it's about 70% for the world literature.

    13. Yes.
    Last edited by Aiculík; 02-06-2008 at 01:16 PM.

  9. #9
    truth seeker
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    From what I remember, middle school on up through high school, I studied American and British lit only. It was a pretty wide range, including of course Chaucer, Shakespeare, Beowulf, etc., but I don't remember any European lit. except for Candide and The Prince by Machiavelli. Maybe I was dozing through that part!


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