World Theory Sample List Arranged by Region or Tradition

Steven J. Venturino
2007, 2013:
World Theory Home Page

This table of contents allows students to link the readings of a single tradition.


  • Ibn Sīnā (980–1037, aka Avicenna), selections (on truth and falsity of poetry)
  • al Niffari (d. 976), from The Book of Spiritual Stayings (on the ineffable)
  • al Jurjani (d. 1078, Arabic), on the faculty of imagination
  • Ibn Rushd (1126–98, aka Averroes), selections (on mimesis and figurative language)
  • Maimonides (1135–1204), from The Guide to the Perplexed (or from Commentary on the Mishna)

Africa & African diaspora

  • Ifa divination and Esu Elegbara trickster figure(11thC), from Gleason and Ogundipe, and/or Gates’s discussion
  • Aimé Césaire (b.1913), selection from w L’Étudiant Noir

Biblical interpretation & exegesis

  • Augustine (354-430), from On Christian Doctrine
  • Macrobius (c. 400), from Commentary on the Dream of Scipio
  • Bede (673–735), from Concerning Figures and Tropes (on allegory)
  • Ruth Rabbah (600-700), later classic rabbinic midrash (Neusner’s discussion)
  • Maimonides (1135–1204), from The Guide to the Perplexed (or from Commentary on the Mishna)
  • Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), from Summa Theologica


  • Confucius (551-479 BCE.), from Analects
  • Laozi (4th-3rd BCE.), from Daodejing (“truthful words are not beautiful”) and the Carving of Dragons)
  • Liu Xie (465-520), from Wenxin Xiaolong (The Book of Literary Design, aka The Literary Mind
  • Li Zhi (1527–1602), from Fenshu (A Book to be Burned)
  • Yong Yuzi, preface to Sanguo zhi tongsu yanyi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms) (on historiography)
  • Jin Shengtan (1610–61), from his edition of Shuihu zhuan (Water Margin) (on the novel)
  • Liang Qichao (1873–1929), selection
  • Wang Guowei (1877–1927), from Honglou meng pinglun (A critique of Dream of the Red Chamber)
  • Lu Xun (1881-1936, Zhou Shuren), selection
  • Hu Shi (1891-1962), “A Proposal fro Reforming Literature”
  • Guo Morou (1892–1978), on the Creation Society
  • Mao Zedong (1893-1976), from “Talks at the Yan’an Forum on Literature and Arts”
  • Mao Dun (1896-1981, Shen Yanbing), on the Literature Research Society


  • Rig Veda (1700-1000 BCE), Hymns to Vāc (on speech and language)
  • Valmiki (c. 200 BCE), from Ramayana (“invention of poetry”)
  • Bharata (2ndC), from Natyasastra
  • Dandin (8thC), from Kavyadarsa
  • Anandavardhana (855-85), from Light on Suggestion
  • Abhinavagupta (9-11C?), on the theory of rasadhvani (socio-moral value of poetry)
  • Altaf Hussain Hali (1837-1914), from Muqaddama-e-Sher-o-Shaeri
  • Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), selection
  • Kuppuswami Sastri (1885–1980), from lectures of 1919


  • Murasaki Shikibu (978–1016?), from The Tale of Genji
  • Zeami Motokiyo (1363–1443, Japanese), from On the Art of No
  • Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801), selections
  • Tsubouchi Shōyō (1859–1935), from The Essence of the Novel (1885–86)
  • Shimamura Hōgetsu (1871–1918), on poetry and naturalism vs. modernity
  • Yokomitsu Riichi (1898–1947), on New Sensualism
  • Kobayashi Hideo (1902–83), selection (on creative imagination)

Latin America

  • Popol Vuh (1550), (on shared language)
  • Manuel González Prada (1848-1918), on indigenous writing
  • José Martí (1853-95), “Nuestro America”
  • Rubén Darío (1867-1916), from “La literatura en Centroamérica” and/or another on modernismo

Western tradition

  • Hesiod (c. 700 BCE), from Theogony (on lies and truth)
  • Plato (427-347 BCE), from Ion, Republic
  • Aristotle (384-322 BCE), from Poetics
  • Horace (65-8 BCE), from Ars Poetica
  • Longinus (1stC), from On the Sublime
  • Augustine (354-430), from On Christian Doctrine
  • Bede (673–735), from Concerning Figures and Tropes (on allegory)
  • Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), from Summa Theologica
  • Christine de Pizan (1365-1429), from The Book of the City of Ladies
  • Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586), from “An Apology for Poetry”
  • Pierre Corneille (1606-1684), “Of the Three Unities of Action, Time, and Place”
  • John Dryden (1631-1700), from An Essay of Dramatic Poesy, from Preface to Troilus and Cressida
  • Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), from The New Science
  • Alexander Pope (1688-1744), “An Essay on Criticism”
  • Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), from The Rambler (on fiction), from Preface to Shakespeare
  • David Hume (1711-1776), “Of the Standard of Taste”
  • Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), from Critique of Judgment
  • Edmund Burke (1729-1797), from Enquiry into the Sublime
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), from Conversations with Eckermann
  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), from The Philosophy of Fine Art
  • Germaine Necker de Stael (1766-1817), from Literature in its Relations to Social Institutions
  • William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Preface to Lyrical Ballads
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), from Biographia Literaria
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), from A Defence of Poetry
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), from The Poet
  • Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), selected writings
  • Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), from The Painter of Modern Life
  • Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time,” from Culture and Anarchy
  • Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), from What is Art?
  • Wilhelm Dilthey (1833–1911), on the hermeneutic circle (and Schleiermacher)
  • Henry James (1843-1916), from “The Art of Fiction”
  • Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), “On Truth and Lying in a Nonmoral Sense”
  • Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), from “The Critic as Artist”
  • Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939), “Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming” and/or from The Interpretation of Dreams
  • Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913), from Course in General Linguistics
  • W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963), from “Criteria of Negro Art”
  • Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), from “On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry”
  • Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), from Literature and Revolution (on the formalists)
  • Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), from A Room of One’s Own
  • Viktor Shklovsky (1893-1984), from “Art as Technique”
  • T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), “Tradition and the Individual Talent”
  • John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974), from The New Criticism
  • Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), from “Characteristics of Negro Expression”
  • Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), from “On Language as Such and On the Language of Man”
  • Edmund Wilson (1895-1975), from “Marxism and Literature”
  • Mikhail Bahktin (1895-1975), from “Epic and Novel: Toward a Methodology for the Study of the Novel”
  • Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), selection
  • André Breton (1896-1966), from Les pas perdus
  • Nazım Hikmet (1901-1963), selection (letters)
  • Langston Hughes (1902-1967), “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”
  • Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), “What is Literature?”
  • Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), from The Second Sex

Selections in chronological order
Selections organized by topic
For a pdf file of the full list and sample TOCs, click here

Steven J. Venturino

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