21L.488 Contemporary Literature: Literature, Development, and Human Rights

Spring 2008

Stylized figures of people striding forward.

March, 2008 cover of a periodical published by the Bureau of International Information Programs.  (Courtesy of the U.S. Department of State.)

Course Description

Central to our era is the gradual movement of all the world's regions toward a uniform standard of economic and political development. In this class we will read a variety of recent narratives that partake of, dissent from, or contribute to this story, ranging from novels and poems to World Bank and IMF statements and National Geographic reports. We will seek to understand the many motives and voices – sometimes congruent, sometimes clashing – that are currently engaged in producing accounts of people in the developing world: their hardships, laughter, and courage, and how they help themselves and are helped by outsiders who may or may not have philanthropic motives. Readings will include literature by J. G. Ballard, Jamaica Kincaid, Rohinton Mistry, and John le Carré, as well as policy documents, newspaper and magazine articles, and the Web sites of a variety of trade and development commissions and organizations.
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Prof. Sarah Brouillette

Course Meeting Times

2 sessions / week
1.5 hours / session