Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Invitation to World Literature

About The Series

Invitation to World Literature is a multimedia series introducing drama, epic poetry, and novels from many times and cultures. Thirteen half-hour videos form the centerpiece of the project, and feature a mix of writers, scholars, artists, and performers with personal connections to world literature, from Philip Glass to Alan Cumming, Wole Soyinka to Kristin Chenoweth, all brought together by Professor David Damrosch of Harvard University, a world-renowned expert on world literature. The project was funded by Annenberg Media.

The Works

The thirteen texts explored in Invitation to World Literature are:

  • The Epic of Gilgamesh Sumerian, 2600 BCE and older
  • My Name Is Red Turkish, Orhan Pamuk, 1998
  • The Odyssey Greek, ca. eighth century BCE
  • The Bacchae Greek, Euripides, 405 BCE
  • The Bhagavad Gita Sanskrit, first century CE
  • The Tale of Genji Japanese, Murasaki Shikibu, ca. 1014
  • Journey to the West Chinese, Wu Ch'êng-ên, ca. 1580
  • Popul Vuh Quiché-Mayan, ca. 1550s
  • Candide French, Voltaire, 1759
  • Things Fall Apart English, Chinua Achebe, 1959
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude Spanish, Gabriel García Márquez, 1967
  • The God of Small Things English, Arundhati Roy, 1998
  • The Thousand and One Nights Arabic, ca. fourteenth century

This mixture of old and new, novel, drama, and epic poem, English-language and translation, gives viewers a jumping-off point for an exploration of literature from around the world and across time. Guiding viewers through these great works is Professor Damrosch, whose passion for world literature connects viewers to every text as he shines a light on ancient cultures, modern questions, and powerful stories.

The Web site

This companion Web site to the program offers further insights from Professor Damrosch and from the guests in each episode, as well as more background and food for thought on the thirteen works featured in the videos.

The site is organized into three main sections for each work:

  • Watch presents the video, the transcript, and biographies of each of the speakers in the video.
  • Read provides an excerpt and background to help readers get started with the work, including recommended translations and editions, glossary, and views from experts on the text. Please note that these works are widely available for purchase or in libraries, both on the web and in bookstores. We have provided links for convenience only, and we do not recommend or endorse any specific bookseller.
  • Explore extends the context for the work, with a slideshow, timeline, connections to works in all genres, and key points for discussion and further study.

The Advisors

The series and Web site were created with the help of academic advisors from across the country to focus on the general American reader who has an interest in world literature but isn't sure where to begin. In addition to Professor Damrosch, advisors included:

  • Professor Wai Chee Dimock, Yale University
  • Professor Nina Ha, Creighton University
  • Professor Shona N. Jackson, Texas A&M University
  • Professor Martin Puchner, Harvard University
  • Professor Diane Thompson, Northern Virginia Community College

About WGBH

WGBH Boston produces a diverse range of educational resources in addition to such celebrated television series as NOVA, Frontline, and Masterpiece. Its materials for teaching and learning are used in more than half of the nation's classrooms as well as many colleges and universities in the form of courses, teacher preparation materials, and curricular resources. Find more information at http://www.wgbh.org.

About Annenberg Media

Annenberg Media, a unit of the Annenberg Foundation, advances excellent teaching by funding and distributing multimedia educational resources to improve teaching methods and subject matter expertise in K-12 and post secondary settings.