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Literature reflects culture. Reading literature from cultures that differ from our own allows us insight into those cultures. We can learn about the heritage, social customs, values, and other aspects of a culture that help to shape it and make it unique. Having knowledge of different cultures allows us to better understand and appreciate the diversity in our world. It provides us with information to better understand the roles of customs and social expectations in other societies. Reading literature from other cultures helps us to acquire new perspectives, which in turn should broaden our knowledge and create an appreciation for the literary heritage that comes from people of diverse backgrounds.
In this course, you will read a variety of short stories. These works express different views, and they are set in different times and places, and yet they will examine some common human issues. One of the central ideas in the course is theme. Theme is the main idea that an author expresses in a work of literature. You will learn to identify themes in literature across many different cultures.
There are two important areas of focus in Multicultural Literature. The course explores situations of different groups of people, and you will study how one’s heritage and background affect one’s sense of identity. At the same time, the course will look for themes that are common across cultures.
One such “universal” theme is the way in which social roles shape individuals. As you proceed through the course, you will explore different perspectives of social roles, evaluating both their negative and positive impacts. You will explore how the actions of the characters in the stories reflect social roles and expectations. You will also examine how an author’s background might reflect his or her perspective on the social issues in the stories. Social expectations do a great deal to define a person’s identity.
By learning about different groups and cultures, you should gain a better understanding of human diversity. At the same time, you should become more aware of your own identity. You should be able to appreciate cultures that differ from your own while understanding common human feelings and experiences.