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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Teaching World Literature: The Challenges of Geography

Maysa A. Hayward.

Some dangers in teaching World Literature need to be addressed. How does a teacher present a text so that it retains its cultural specificity--its difference from the culture to which the text is being brought--and still make the text accessible to the students? In translation theory, foreignization and domestication are two approaches. Foreignization emphasizes differences between the source and target cultures; domestication minimizes differences. Foreignization risks treating the foreign culture and text as entirely Other, creating a border or boundary which is difficult for a reader to cross. Domestication universalizes and naturalizes the text, colonizing it. The teacher's role is to help students interrogate these texts to actively question the reader's knowledge-base, implicit assumptions, ways of thinking, and cultural values, as well as his or her previous view of the other culture from which the reading emerges. Performance theory helps teachers learn ways to cross borders without domesticating the texts being read.


Maysa A. Hayward  (United States)
Department of English
Slippery Rock University

I specialize in translation and translation theory, Arab environmental writing, and cross-cultural theories of drama and performance in the context of global literatures.

  • Translation
  • Performance
  • World Literature
  • Teaching

(30 min Conference Paper, English)