Fall 2020 Undergraduate English Courses

359:365 Literature, Religion, and Theory

01  TTH5   CAC   05719   JAGER   SC-221

This course will explore the deep and fruitful interactions among literature, religion, and philosophical reflection. Our readings will be organized around 3 topics where the questions of religion, spirituality, literature, and philosophy intersect: Sacrifice and Violence, Good and Evil, and Life and Death. For each of these topics, we’ll read a major literary text and a major theoretical or philosophical work. Thus, for “Sacrifice and Violence,” we’ll read Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Freud’s Moses and Monotheism, selections from the Bible, and Toni Morrison’s Paradise. For “Good and Evil,” we’ll read Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals, selections from Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, and J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace. And for “Life and Death,” we’ll read Sophocles’ Antigone, Plato’s Symposium, Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, and either Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead or Miriam Toews' Women Talking. As part of this last unit we’ll also screen Terrence Malick’s movie Tree of Life. Work will consist of weekly reading quizzes, several response papers, a midterm, a final exam, and a final paper. Students should come prepared to read widely and think deeply about some of life’s biggest questions.