SOAS University of London

School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Literatures of Africa, the Middle East, South and South East Asia 1: The Art of Storytelling

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Term 1

Storytelling, or narrative, takes many forms within and across cultures. In this module we will explore a variety of types of stories that characterise the cultural output in the regions covered, namely Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and South East Asia. These stories, which may include such genres as the oral epic, the graphic novel, puppet theatre, and internet literature--among other possible genres--will be examined with particular attention to the ways that texts interact with other forms of expression from music and dance to the visual arts. Each of the stories studied will be presented in its cultural context, and connections between cultures will be interrogated in an effort to solidify conceptions of the universal and the local. So, too, will the relationship between folklore and ‘high art’ be discussed and problematised. Videos and sound recordings will supplement or substitute for certain primary ‘readings’ on the syllabus.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of a module, a student should be able to:

  1. Think critically about stories and their performance contexts
  2. Analyse stories and situate them culturally
  3. Develop an argument about a text or texts
  4. Communicate insights into forms of cultural expression    


Total Taught Hours: 20. 2 hours of lectures per week for 10 weeks.

Independent Study Hours: 130

Total Hours for Module: 150

Scope and syllabus

Specific content will vary from year to year, but material will be organised into three overlapping units:

  1. Storytelling and Sound
    Rhythm, Rhyme, Music
  2. Storytelling and Image
    Narrative Images and Objects, Graphic Novels, Short Films
  3. Storytelling and Movement
    Dance, Theatre, Puppetry    

Method of assessment

  • Essay (2,500 words) 60%
  • Virtual presentation (e.g. narrated powerpoint, video, podcast) (10 minutes) 40%


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules