Crossroads: Classical Literatures of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia


Crossroads is our comparative introductory-level
course on the classical literature of Africa, Middle East, and South Asia. It really, really puts a different perspective
on not just how we understand literature but how we understand history. All of us, to some extent, in greater shape
or form have roots in these regions. By studying the literature of Africa, the
Middle East, and South Asia, we not only gain a mirror on each of these regions to one another,
but also a mirror upon ourselves. This is a way of reconnecting with this culture. It’s about crossing over to the other side,
to see what lies beyond. You can say that we’re trying to flood the world
with more cultural understanding. I think students are really astonished to
see the connections between the three regions. People and texts and ideas and genres have
moved between, especially these three regions, for many millennia. We’ll be reading sections from the Koran,
we’ll be reading from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. We’ll be able to show you in this course how
to draw a line, not only from Gilgamesh to the Koran, but to you in the present world. This is a beautiful dialogue that needs to
happen because very often when people talk about the classical literature, people are
thinking more of the Western world. Texts are not just dead things that were written
or read and then stopped being relevant. The sacred texts of so many world religions,
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, these texts come from the regions that we’ll be
studying in this course. Students have an opportunity to see the rest
of world through the eyes of the people who wrote the things they will be reading. I think students are really astonished to
see that, just these connections, I think, that they don’t necessarily know about, simply
because this is not every day common knowledge. I think they find that really exciting to
witness. Crossroads is enlightening, it’s creative. Crossroads is necessary, comparative, transnational. Crossroads in fundamental, yet it’s transformative
and thought-provoking. This is a great opportunity to discover the
world. It’s really fun, it’s an exploration of minds,
across time. I think it’s really great that I have an opportunity
to teach this course with all of my fellow instructors and colleagues here at Amesall,
we deal with such different things, different times and different places. We teach the course regularly every
year and about eight to ten professors teach this on a rotating basis. This course gives us an opportunity to kind
of collaborate on something wonderful and deliver what we offer to this University to
one classroom full of people.

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