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World Literature

Examine the topic of world literature, the definition of which has been subject to scholarly debate. The term was first used in 1827 by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to refer to the dissemination of literature from and to countries around the world—in effect, a focus on the globalization of literature. Others consider world literature to be all the literature in the world, both past and present, as a counter to a nationalist approach to literature.

The study of world literature is a fairly new phenomena that developed primarily in the West, having taken hold in Western academia only recently. Well into the 20th century, the study of literature in Western colleges and universities focused mainly on novels, short stories, plays, and poetry produced in the West—in other words, English literature that was considered part of an accepted canon. In the mid-20th century, there was more acceptance of English-language titles produced in non-Western countries, such as works from English-speaking African writers. Translations of foreign-language works into English further generated interest in literature from other cultures.

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World Literature Resources

Gale provides scholarly resources, including world literature databasesprimary source archives, and eBooks.


Gale databases offer researchers or teachers access to credible, up-to-date publications, including academic journals and scholarly journals for research or teaching.

Primary Source Archives

Gale Primary Sources offers world literature collections that include journals, periodicals, and articles that provide researchers with firsthand material.

Gale eBooks

Gale offers a variety of books covering a wide range of topics, including literary criticism and poetry criticism. Users can add Gale eBooks to a customized collection and cross-search to pinpoint relevant content. Workflow tools help users easily share, save, and download content.

  • African American Literature for Students

    African American Literature for Students

    Gale | 2020 | ISBN-13: 9780028666754

    African American Literature for Students contains easily accessible and content-rich discussions of the literary and historical background of 14 works from various time periods. The works—not previously covered in any For Students series—are comprised of a variety of genres, including novels, poems, short stories, and dramas. The entries include works by frequently studied and well-established authors as well as by more contemporary, up-and-coming authors.

    Each work was specially chosen by an advisory panel of teachers and librarians—experts who helped define the information needs of students and ensure the age-appropriateness of this content. Within the pages of African American Literature for Students, young researchers will discover everything they need to complete homework assignments and lead classroom discussions.

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  • Language and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds, 1st Edition

    Language and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds, 1st Edition

    Gale | 2015 | ISBN-13: 9781316307984

    Texts written in Latin, Greek, and other languages provide ancient historians with their primary evidence, but the role of language as a source for understanding the ancient world is often overlooked. Language played a key role in state formation and the spread of Christianity, the construction of ethnicity, and negotiating positions of social status and group membership. Language could reinforce social norms and shed light on taboos. This book presents ways in which linguistics can illuminate topics such as imperialism, ethnicity, social mobility, religion, gender, and sexuality in the ancient world, without assuming the reader has any knowledge of Greek or Latin, or of linguistic jargon. It describes the rise of Greek and Latin at the expense of other languages spoken around the Mediterranean, and details the social meanings of different styles and the attitudes of ancient speakers toward linguistic differences.

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  • World Literature In Spanish: An Encyclopedia, 1st Edition

    World Literature In Spanish: An Encyclopedia, 1st Edition

    ABC-CLIO | 2012 | ISBN-13: 9780313080838

    There are approximately 400 million native Spanish-speaking people worldwide. Due to the number of nations and different cultures across the globe that have used this language over the last millennium, Spanish-language literature is quite diverse, and is responsible for many significant and distinguished contributions to world civilization.

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