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C LIT 357 A: Literature And Film

Sympathy for the Devil: The Rhetoric of Compassion

Meeting Time: 
MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
Location: 
SMI 205
SLN: 
11955
Instructor: 
Ellwood Wiggins

Syllabus Description:

If one of the course numbers is full, you may register for it through one of the cross-listed departments: German, CHID, Classics, Literature, Philosophy, and Comp Lit.

Is compassion the foundation of human morality or a dangerously unreliable emotion? This course examines the strategies and motivations in different media of fostering empathy for commonly held enemies or discriminated groups. We examine the ways that casting minorities as objects of pity can strategically forward, but structurally undermine, the project of creating a more open and tolerant society. The syllabus runs from Ancient Greece to depictions of Nazis and terrorists in modern film, and considers philosophical assessments of sympathy alongside examples of its aesthetic manufacture. Half of our readings are in moral philosophy (e.g., Aristotle, Cicero, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Kant, Nietzsche, Arendt), and in each case we use the literary text or film (e.g., Aeschylus, Sophocles, Shakespeare, Lessing, Eliot, Brecht) as a kind of experimental field to evaluate the philosophers’ concepts and claims about the moral efficacy of compassion. Students will also work creatively to engender sympathy in four genres (rhetoric, drama, narrative, film).

This course engages in team-based learning. Students will complete four projects that include both creative and analytical components. Groups work to engender sympathy for a 'bad guy' in four genres: a speech, a scene, a story, and a visual project. During the final, groups will present their project to the class.

This course will count toward Diversity Credit, and VLPA (the philosophy section: I&S).

 

Additional Details:

Is compassion the foundation of human morality or a dangerously unreliable emotion? This course examines the strategies and motivations in different media of fostering empathy for commonly held enemies or discriminated groups. We examine the ways that casting minorities as objects of pity can strategically forward—but structurally undermine—the project of creating a more open and tolerant society. The syllabus runs from Ancient Greece to depictions of Nazis and terrorists in modern film, and considers philosophical assessments of sympathy alongside examples of its aesthetic manufacture. Half of our readings are in moral philosophy (e.g., Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Kant, Nietzsche, Arendt), and in each case we use the literary text or film (e.g., Aeschylus, Sophocles, Thucydides, Shakespeare, Lessing, Eliot, Brecht) as a kind of experimental field to evaluate the philosophers’ concepts and claims about the moral efficacy of compassion. Students will also work creatively to engender sympathy in four genres (rhetoric, drama, narrative, film).

This course engages in team-based learning. Students will complete four projects that include both creative and analytical components. Groups work to engender sympathy for a “bad guy” in four genres: a speech, a scene, a story, and a visual project. During the final, groups will present their project to the class.

 

 

Catalog Description: 
The film as an art form, with particular reference to the literary dimension of film and to the interaction of literature with the other artistic media employed in the form. Films are shown as an integral part of the course. Content varies.
Department Requirements Met: 
Elective for both Literature and Cinema
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 15, 2016 - 9:11pm
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