What “world” are we talking about when we talk about “world literature”? We know it when we see it. It’s not France. It is definitely Africa. It might be Russia. But what about Finland? Or Puerto Rico?
And what “literature” are we talking about? Do folktales count? Are comic books literature? What about religious texts?
The term can be traced all the way from Goethe to the Norton Anthology. But when we casually say “world literature” we usually mean: books that were not written by white people, that you won’t find in your English 101 classroom, that feature places it would take you at least two flight connections to visit.
Leaving aside the difficulty of defining it, what are some strategies for reading the world? How do we become world literate?