Literature does not exist for your protection. So dangerous is it, that Socrates argued poets ought to be banned from his ideal Republic. And Socrates himself—one of the most subversive of all poetic thinkers—was condemned to death for corrupting the young with his speeches. All great literature is unsettling and alarming. Along with its beauty and delicacy and rhetorical power and ethical force, it can be terrifyingly sublime and even downright ugly: full of contempt and horror and grandiosity and malice. From Socrates’s day to our own, countless writers have been jailed, exiled, and murdered, their works censored, banned, burned, for daring to say what others wish would remain unsaid—about religion and the State; sexuality, gender, and the body; art, science, and commerce; freedom and order; love and hate—and for saying it in ways that are aesthetically innovative, surprising, seductive, ravishingly unanticipated.
This course will introduce you to fundamentals of literary style, form, and history, and to approaches to reading and interpretation. It will also mean paying close attention to your own writing, in a series of brief essays and blog contributions in which you’ll learn better how to meet the demands of college-level writing while striving always to be a dangerous writer yourself.
Fulfills the College's requirement for Arts & Letters (Sector III), as well as the introductory course requirement for the Comparative Literature major.