Literature has been central to the formation of collective identities across cultures, nations, and historical epochs. Though literary works are anchored in a particular time and place, many of them are read widely in other times and other places, and by cultures to which they would seem not to belong. The Literature and Creative Writing major at NYU Abu Dhabi is uniquely organized around problems presented by translation, adaptation, and circulation. Unlike many college literary curricula that restrict majors to the study of works in a single language or from a specific national tradition, this major engages students in critical conversations that cut across fields, and in doing so help to rethink the very foundations of literary studies and creative writing.
How are literary forms and the histories of literature and literary exchanges shaped by translation, by military victory and defeat, by colonization and postcolonialism, and by the rise of an economic world system? How do new forms and traditions of literature arise and is there such a thing as an emergent world or global literature? How might the imaginative encounter with other cultures renew our engagements with ourselves and our world? How do cultural, political, class, racial, or sexual differences inform and sustain a vision of a common world? How are literary studies and creative writing in dialogue with the other arts as well as with cultural analysis and theory? What is the role of literary writing in contemporary local and global contexts? What is the relationship between the written, the oral, and the performance? How do we define aesthetic significance across different cultural traditions and different literary modes? Students discuss these and other questions intensively with a distinguished faculty of scholars and writers who come from and work across a wide variety of literary cultures.