Writing about Literature: Where is Wisdom to be Found?
The aim of this course is to enable you to read carefully, think critically, write professionally, and above all, find pleasure in what you do. The agenda is to read four major texts: Zhuangzi, Goethe‘s Faust (Part 1), Scarlet Letter and Anna Karenina, that are major in every imaginable way. They are foundational, engaging, intellectually stimulating, and oftentimes amusing. Each text raises its own set of questions, questions concerning knowledge, morality, desire, evil, mortality, family, nature, and society, all so fundamental to human experience that you may find yourself changed, unwittingly at times, as you engage with the readings. Literature, in this view - which is also the implied argument in the design of this class - is a form of emotive cognition, a union of profound thought with intense feeling. It is, therefore, neither an abstract enterprise, nor a hysterical outpouring, but teaches, moves, and pleases in and through the exact details of complex narratives, characters, and relationships in a verbally imagined yet historically determined space. Everything we will read is in English, and the pace will be such that no one will sink. You will be encouraged to participate actively in all sorts of individual as well as group activities. Additional help is available via meeting with me one-on-one outside the classroom.