E f316K • Masterworks of Literature: World
11:30 AM-1:00 PM
What is a self, an individual? Is it a single entity or is it always entangled with others? Is it something created by history, by politics, by art, by culture or by the divine? Or does it fashion itself? Does it change over time and across space? At some level, art is always concerned with making and unmaking the individual and with freeing or chaining this being. Tracking texts from Classical Greece, Palestine and India to medieval Europe and Japan, we will focus on the continuing, and sometimes desperate, attempts of ancient and early modern artists and authors both to phrase and to answer this question. Expected names from the western canon, like Euripides, Shakespeare, Goethe and Baudelaire will keep company with Japans Bashô, Russias Pushkin, Brazils Borges and Nigerias Achebe.
While the basis of the course will be the literary texts, we shall pillage often and importantly the resources of the other arts of painting, sculpture and film, especially to conjure back to life the spirits of these past identities in preparation for a spring in which we shall interrogate our own century as it emerges from the twilight of the twentieth-century experiment.
Class participation 15%
Two midterm exams 35% each
Reading Journal 15%
Attendance will be taken regularly at the start of each class. Each student will be allowed three unexcused absences in the course of the session. Any further absences will lower the students grade by a half grade (i.e. a B becomes a B-, and a B- becomes a C+).
All selections will be from The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces (Expanded Edition in One Volume, 1997), and will include:
Gilgamesh; Euripides, The Medea; Selections from Chuang Chou; Kâlidâsa, Sákuntalâ; Selections from The Thousand and One Nights; Montaigne's "Of Cannibals"; Shakespeare, Hamlet; Bashô, The Narrow Road to the Interior; Goethe, Faust; Baudelaire, from The Flowers of Evil; Pushkin, The Queen of Spades; Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths; Achebe, Things Fall Apart.