Through this course it is expected that students will learn to trace the development of literary forms in relation to specific cultures, histories, values, languages and technologies. In focusing on questions of form and context, this course will start by examining the ritual origins of poetry, the circumstances that led to the development of more quotidian and secular modes, the relationship between poetry and narrative, and the development of non-narrative poetic genres. Students will look at a variety of poetic forms, learning the basics of parsing structure, rhyme/rhythm/meter, language, and poetic techniques and devices. Non-western forms read will include classical shijing odes, the ghazal, the doha, the qasida, the ashtapadi, the dastangoi, the haiku, the landey, the hainteney, and a variety of working people’s – especially working women’s — songs from several cultures. The modern short story is conventionally supposed to date to the 19th century, emerging after two hundred years in which prose is considered to have suffered a diminishing of status vis a vis poetry. However, apart from several modern short stories, students will also read brief examples of much earlier narrative genres like the ballad, the lai, folk and fairy tales, the fable and the fabliau, many of which illuminate the connection between poetry, story-telling and the modern short story. If time permits, there will also be brief exposure to other short story precursors like the jest, the anecdote, the parable and the exemplum as well as some of their non-western counterparts. The class will inspect and discuss poetry and the short narrative as reflections of social and cultural issues and as modes of personal expression at various points in time and across many languages. Other important discussions will include the structural and thematic transformation of literary genres through processes of cultural transmission and modern recovery, the impact of technological advances, the reasons for the realist imperative that began to attach to the short story in its first modern avatars and the subsequent exploration of possibilities outside the realm of the real.