An Introduction to World Literature by a Cast Of Literary & Academic Stars (Free Course)

Updat­ed: Love and long­ing, hope and fear — these threads run through­out all lit­er­a­ture, whether we’re talk­ing about the great ancient epics, or con­tem­po­rary nov­els writ­ten in the East or the West. That’s the main premise of Invi­ta­tion to World Lit­er­a­ture, a mul­ti­me­dia pro­gram orga­nized by David Dam­rosch (Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty), and made with the back­ing of WGBH and Annen­berg Media.

The pro­gram fea­tures 13 half-hour videos, which move from The Epic of Gil­gamesh (cir­ca 2500 BCE) through Gar­cía Márquez’s One Hun­dred Years of Soli­tude (1967). And, col­lec­tive­ly, these videos high­light over 100+ writ­ers, schol­ars, artists, and per­form­ers with a per­son­al con­nec­tion to world lit­er­a­ture. Philip Glass, Francine Prose, Harold Ramis, Robert Thur­man, Kwame Antho­ny Appi­ah — they all make an appear­ance.

Per­ma­nent­ly housed in the Lit­er­a­ture sec­tion of our col­lec­tion of 1,300 Free Online Cours­es, Invi­ta­tion to World Lit­er­a­ture fea­tures the fol­low­ing lec­tures:

  1. The Epic of Gil­gamesh
  2. My Name is Red
  3. The Odyssey
  4. The Bac­chae
  5. The Bha­gavad Gita
  6. The Tale of the Gen­ji
  7. Jour­ney to the West
  8. Pop­ul Vuh
  9. Can­dide
  10. Things Fall Apart
  11. One Hun­dred Years of Soli­tude
  12. The God of Small Things
  13. The Thou­sand and One Nights

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Lit­er­a­ture Cours­es

The Art of Liv­ing: A Free Stan­ford Course Explores Time­less Ques­tions

A Crash Course in Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture: A New Video Series by Best-Sell­ing Author John Green

Con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: An Open Yale Course

David Fos­ter Wallace’s 1994 Syl­labus: How to Teach Seri­ous Lit­er­a­ture with Light­weight Books

W.H. Auden’s 1941 Lit­er­a­ture Syl­labus Asks Stu­dents to Read 32 Great Works, Cov­er­ing 6000 Pages

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.