GLITS 251 B: Introduction to Global Literatures: Cross-Cultural Themes

Spring 2023
MTWTh 12:30pm - 1:20pm / SAV 264
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
C LIT 250 A , RUSS 260 A
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):


RUSS 260/C LIT 250 A/GLITS 251 B

MTWTh 12:30-1:20

Instructor: Dr. Henry

office: A211 Padelford Hall.


office hours: Thursdays, 4-6, on Zoom

cellphone: 206 659-2659


Teaching assistant: Biljana Konatar

office: Padelford A-210G


office hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10:20 a.m. - 11:20 a.m., in person


Final Projects Due

Thursday, June 8, 2023, by 12 noon


Required reading:

We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin, trans. by Natasha S. Randall. Modern Library paperback,

            New York, 2006. ISBN 0-8129-7462 X ($14.00)

The House of the Dead, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated by Constance Garnett, Dover

            Publications, Mineola NY, 2004. ISBN 978-0-486-43409-4 ($3.44)

Notes on the Underground: An Essay on Technology, Society, and the Imagination, by

            Rosalind Williams, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2008 (2nd edition). ISBN 978-0-262-

            73190-4 ($21.95)

Coursepack is on Canvas



  • Do readings before They will be discussed on the day that they appear on the syllabus.
  • Assignments are due on the days that they appear on the syllabus, and must be uploaded to Canvas by the deadline indicated.
  • Reading quizzes are open for just over 24 hours, all are required, and there are no makeup quizzes.


Week 1: Initiation

Mar 27 Introductions

Mar 28 So You Want to Visit the Underworld

Mar 29 Folktales: “Three Kingdoms” (Три царства – Медное, серебряное, и золотое, 128) and “Vasilisa the Beautiful” (Василиса Прекрасная, 104) (CANVAS)

Mar 30 Reading: “The Gods of the Underworld,” from Greek Myths, 119-123, translated and edited by Robert Graves. (CANVAS)

Reading quiz 1: Opens Mar 30, 2 pm, closes Mar 31, 5 pm


Week 2 Initiation

Apr 3 Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940), A Country Doctor’s Notebook   (Записки юного врача, 1925-27) “The Steel Windpipe” (Стальное горло), “Baptism by Rotation” (Крещение поворотом) (CANVAS)

Apr 4  “The Blizzard” (Вьюга), “Egyptian Darkness” (Тьма египетская)  “The Speckled Rash” (Звездная сыпь) (CANVAS)

Apr 5 Bulgakov,“The Embroidered Towel” (Полотенце с петухом),  “The Vanishing Eye” (Пропавший глаз) (CANVAS)

Apr 6 Bulgakov, “Morphine” (Морфий) (CANVAS)

Reading quiz 2: Opens Apr 6, 2 pm, closes Apr 7, 5 pm


Week 3 Wisdom

Apr 10 Vergil (70 BCE-19 BCE), The Aeneid Book 6 (29-19 BCE) (CANVAS) 

Apr 11 Meet the Ancestors

Written assignment 1: Ancestors

See Canvas File for Week 3 for specific guidelines, links, and forms for this assignment.


Trace your family history back two generations or more (to your grandparents, if you can), using the forms provided on Canvas. Include full names, with women’s maiden names if possible; places of birth & death. Attach a one-page answer to these questions:

  • If, like Aeneas, you could see and talk with one of your ancestors, who would it be?
  • What would you ask them, or tell them?


You can also set up a family tree on (for free!) and include a link with your one-page answer to these questions:

  • If, like Aeneas, you could see and talk with one of your ancestors, who would it be?
  • What would you ask them, or tell them?


  1. Do NOT use the “share tree” link – it expires after 24 hours
  2. Go to the home page/home person (who is YOU) and set the page to “public” (you can change this later to private, once we’ve graded this assignment).
  3. Copy the URL and paste it into a Word document.


Apr 12 Plato, “The Story of Er” from The Republic, 388-97 (CANVAS)

Apr 13 Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), The House of the Dead (Записки из мертвого дома, 1861), pp. 1-78, Ch. I (Introduction) through VI (The First Month)


Week 4 Redemption

Apr 17 Please watch “White Bear” from season two of the Black Mirror series at home, and be prepared to discuss it in class TODAY.

The episode is available at Odegaard on DVD and through Netflix.

Apr 18 Dostoevsky, The House of the Dead, pp. 78-160, Ch. VII (New Acquaintances - Part II, through Ch. II, The Hospital)



Reading Quiz 3: House of the Dead  Opens Apr 20, 2 pm, closes Apr 21, 5 pm



Apr 24 Dostoevsky, The House of the Dead, pp. 160-end (Part II, Ch. III, The Hospital - How I Left Prison)

Apr 25 Christian Descent: The Harrowing of Hell and The Descent of the Virgin into Hell (Хождение Богородицы по Мукам)(CANVAS)

Apr 26 Dante’s Inferno: The Graphic Novel  (CANVAS)

Written assignment 2: Inferno

Upload a one-page document to Canvas in which you discuss these questions.


Dante’s vision of Hell reflects his time and place. Are the circles that he designates still relevant in our world? How would you update the Inferno for our time and place? Which new circles might be added to Hell, and who would find themselves in them?

Apr 27 The Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2150 - 1400 BCE), Books 7, 9, & 10 (CANVAS)


Week 6 The Underworld Within: Depression and Grief

May 1 Allie Brosh, (b. 1985) Hyperbole & a Half

Reading: “The God of Cake”:,

“The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas”

“Wild Animal. Simple Dog Goes for a Joy Ride”

May 2 Hyperbole & a Half: Adventures in Depression I & II

Reading on spatial & temporal aspects of depression:

May 3 The Piano (1993, Jane Campion) (in-class viewing)

May 4 The Piano

Reading quiz 4:The underworld within  Opens May 4, 2 pm, closes May 5, 5 pm


Week 7 Women’s Descent Stories

May 8 The Piano, discussion

May 9 The Rape of Persephone, from Classical Mythology, by A. R. Moncrieff, and “Prince Danila-Govorila” (Князь Данила-Говорила, 114), (CANVAS)

May 10 "Orpheus and Eurydice,” from Classical Mythology and "Inanna (Ishtar)," from Mythology: Voyage of the Hero, David Adams Leeming; “The Descent of Inanna” (translated by Diane Wolkstein & Samuel Noah Kramer) (CANVAS)

May 11 Sarah Ruhl (b. 1974), Eurydice (CANVAS)

Reading quiz 5: Women’s descent stories  Opens May 11 2 pm, and closes May 12, 5 pm


Week 8 Modernity

May 15 Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (b. 1992) “Through the Flash,” from Friday Black (2018)


May 16 Notes on the Underground, Rosalind Williams, Ch. 1-4

May 17 The labyrinth: “Theseus,” from Classical Myths that Live Today and “Heracles” from Mythology: Voyage of the Hero (CANVAS)

Written assignment 3: Artificial Infinitude  Due May 17 by 8 pm

Upload an image of "artificial infinitude" pasted into a Word doc or PDF. NO GOOGLE DOCS.

  • Below the image, explain in one paragraph why the image that you selected represents artificial infinitude
  • Assignment must be uploaded by 8 pm,  May 17, because we’ll be looking at them and discussing them in class on May 18th
  • Please do not ask me or Biljana what “artificial infinitude” is.
  • If you ask us what “artificial infinitude” is, we’ll know you haven’t done the reading.

May 18 Notes on the Underground, Rosalind Williams, Ch. 5-7


Students taking the class for writing credit must upload drafts of their final papers by midnight, Thursday, May 18!


Week 9 Modernity

May 22 Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937), “On Literature, Revolution, Entropy, and Other Matters” (О литературе, революции, энтропии и прочем, 1923) (CANVAS)

May 23 Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937), We (Мы, 1921) Records 1-19, pp. 3-100

May 24 We, Records 20-40, pp. 101-203

May 25 What Do We Mean When We Talk About the West? Frederick Jackson Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” (1893) (CANVAS)

Reading quiz 6: We Quiz opens May 25, 2 pm, and closes May 26, 5 pm


Week 10 The West


May 30  No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007) (shown in class)

May 31 No Country for Old Men

Jun 1  No Country for Old Men discussion


Written assignment 4: The West   Due June 8, by 11:59 pm

  • Does Turner’s optimistic and unquestioningly colonialist discussion of the American frontier have any relevance to the Coen brothers’ late 20th century vision of the West?
  • If the Western is a distinctly American version of the underworld, it should offer its travelers what underworlds do: initiation, wisdom, love, redemption, as well as suffering.
  • Does it, though, in No Country for Old Men?
  • If not, does it offer anything in place of the old values?


Written assignments

There are four assignments that ask you to reflect on the materials that we read.

  • You must do all of the reading quizzes, but only three of the written assignments.
  • Assignment 1 should include a family tree, and 3 should include an image in addition to the written portion of the assignment.
  • Written assignments should use 12-point font, be double-spaced, and have 1-inch margins  
  • One page only.  About 250 words.
  • Be concise, be direct, and make every word count.
  • Spelling, grammar, and usage errors will have an impact on your grade.
  • You definitely want to read the “forbidden words” document on Canvas.
  • We will not keep pointing our errors and correcting them after the 2nd paper – points will simply be deducted for repeated errors.



Excellent  4.0-3.8

Good  3.7-3.0

Eh.  2.9-2.0

No. Just don’t.


Answers the question(s) posed on syllabus; references multiple works treated in class, offers own original insights

Answers the question(s) posed on the syllabus, with reference to some of the works treated in class

May answer the question(s) posed on syllabus, does not reference works treated in class

Moooostly personal stuff, cause didn’t actually do the reading.


No errors in grammar, spelling, usage. Language is concise, without padding

Minor errors in spelling, grammar, or usage

Many annoying errors in spelling, grammar, and usage

Our hearts brake when you loose site of the purpose of teh assignment. Definately.


12 point font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 1 page only

12 point font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 1 page only

Terrible font, 1 ½ spacing, margins too large or too small, too long or too short.

Uploaded from phone on the bus this morning, complete with spelling and spacing errors due to jolting bus.


Final project

You must choose one of these two options for your final.  If you are taking the class for W credit, you will need to do a traditional research paper.


Option 1: 5-7 pg. paper/Writing credit paper

  • The paper should analyze a work of your choosing that deals with underworld themes. It cannot be a work that we have read in class.
  • You can choose to write about almost anything: literature, film, music, visual art, graphic novels, video games, architecture, even sites or activities (“dark” tourism, memorials, cave exploration, “Underground Seattle”) that simulate or resemble an underworld descent, either actual or metaphoric.
  • What qualifies it as an underworld descent story? Does it offer its characters or users what traditional underworlds offer? How does it differ from traditional underworlds?
  • Please be sure to clear the topic with me and/or Biljana before starting your work.


Option 2: Creative project about your own personal descent to the underworld. 

  • This is an artistic work that can take any form -- literary, visual, musical, dance, film, or even a combination of these. 
  • You can represent your personal underworld in any way that you want -- funny, sad, cathartic, scary, confessional, beautiful, or some combination thereof.
  • Literary works may exceed 10 pages (double-spaced, please).
  • Regardless of medium, your work should – and probably will, both consciously and unconsciously – make thematic connections to the recurring underworld motifs that we've discussed in class.
  • An artist’s statement (1-2 pages) must accompany your creative work
    • You should be able to reflect on where your ideas for the work came from, why they take the form that they do, and what they mean to you.


Why does this project need to be creative, rather than an autobiographical essay?

  • Only art is large enough for us to express – and thereby reflect on – experience.
  • Expressing yourself creatively is a form of understanding, and it can be therapeutic in ways that a non-fiction essay cannot.
  • When we write stories or paint or make music about our ideas and experiences, things emerge from the creation of art that we could not have suspected and could not have understood otherwise.
  • Metaphor and art are larger than the individuals who make it.
  • By expressing yourself creatively, you come closer to the wisdom that the underworld offers those who descend to it.
  • Only Biljana and I will see your work, and what you share is completely confidential.
  • If you prefer one of us grade the assignment rather than the other, please let us know.
  • Please come talk to us if you have any difficulties with the framework of this assignment, or its personal nature, or just want to talk about ideas you might have for the project.


Writing Credit

In order to receive  “W” credit for this class (in addition to VLPA credit), you must write and revise a 5-7 page paper on a topic that you have discussed either with me or Biljana.

A writing credit paper must be an analytical research paper with all the critical apparatus that goes with it (bibliography, footnotes).

  • A draft of your paper must be uploaded to Canvas by Thursday, May 18.
  • We will read the draft, make comments and indicate where changes and corrections need to be made, and we will return it to you one week before the final, on June 1st
  • You then revise the paper in accordance with the corrections and changes we have indicated, and submit the revised paper when the final is due.


Because of the time-consuming nature of our reading and commenting on drafts, it is essential that you take the following steps if you wish to receive writing credit:


You must:

  • Notify me in person AND by email that you’ll be taking the class for W credit
  • You must do this no later than the end of week 5 of the quarter
  • There are no exceptions to this rule.
  • If you have not followed these steps, you cannot submit drafts for W credit.


Method of evaluation:

Quizzes and written assignments: 60% Final project: 40%


Late policy:

There’s a 24-hr grace period after written assignments are due, but after that, we’re not accepting anything unless you’ve been ill, which you will have told us about already.

Due dates are given well in advance, and we honestly do not care if you’re out of state at some tournament. Do the work.


Class policies

If you miss class, please let Biljana or me know this. I am not planning on recording lectures or classes, unless Covid-19 has even more surprises in store for us.

            Please arrive on time for class. If you will be consistently late, due to your preceding class’s distance from ours, let me know this as soon as possible.

            Food and drinks in class: drinks are ok, but no food is allowed in our classroom.

           Please don’t call me by my first name. I’m old. You’re not. I’m “Dr. Henry.”



Please put them away. Just for 50 minutes. It’s okay. You can do it!


Student honesty – please see the University’s official policies at:

Students suspected of plagiarism will be given a 0.0 for the assignment, and asked to explain their actions. 

  • The Dean’s office will be notified.
  • The incident will go on your permanent academic record, to which coaches, employers, medical, law, and graduate schools will have access.
  • Using ChatGpt to write papers will also net you a 0.0

So, just don’t do it.

Catalog Description:
An introduction to literary study. Literature from around the globe, with focus on themes such as love, friendship, war, family, art, hope, joy, goodness, or justice. Topics vary.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
July 23, 2024 - 8:49 pm