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What is World Literature?

World Literature focuses on the way writing travels beyond its context of origin and acquires a new life in other languages, nations and traditions. Ancient lyrical forms, tales from The Arabian Nights, nineteenth-century French and British novels, American cinema of the 1940s and contemporary Japanese manga and anime are all good examples of World Literature. Studying texts in a World Literature framework raises vital questions about how cultures understand one another, emphasizing contexts of transmission and reception. World Literature is therefore uniquely placed to examine cross-cultural contacts and exchanges. 

Students in World Literature are attentive to networks of influence and dialogue among authors across time, culture, and linguistic boundaries. Courses explore literary works alongside such disciplines as philosophy, history, art, religion, psychoanalysis and film. They pay attention to themes such as love and intercultural conflict and explore topics such as translation, modernity and power.

Students enter into dialogue with current and historical thinkers, philosophers, poets and artists, and contribute to this rich history through their writing, projects and oral comments.

World Literature at SFU

World literature at Simon Fraser University is a dynamic, new program for students interested in studying literature and culture as these are produced and spread from one place to another. The Program is located in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences on the SFU Surrey campus. It is one of the first programs of its kind in the world.

Courses cover a broad spectrum of literary genres, historical periods and translated texts from regions such as Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Students in World Literature have the opportunity to study languages such as Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Spanish and more... the language of instruction is English. Students are also encouraged to participate in an international exchange, field school or Coop term to complement their degree.

Students interested in World Literature can start their program in either the GLOBAL ISSUES FLC or EXPLORATIONS.

Want to join World Literature?

World Literature accepts applications from high school students, and mature students in the Fall term only, and further degree and transfer students in the fall, spring and summer terms. To apply for SFU and World Literature, please follow the steps outlined at this link.



  • World Literature and The Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures (CCSMSC) welcomes internationally acclaimed author Dr. Angelika Neuwirth, to campus on Thursday, March 27 for a free public lecture. Further details here.