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Higher Dimensions in Literature

ENGL 261.601
crosslisted as: COML 075
instructor(s):
Tuesdays 6-9:00 pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

The concept of higher-dimensional hyperspace has taken on new meanings in light of the advances of modern physics and the prospect of multiple dimensions coexisting alongside our own. At the turn of the 20th century, new possibilities about the natures of space and time fascinated mathematicians, philosophers, and artists alike. Riemann's mathematical demonstration that the universe might exceed its standard three dimensions catalyzed projects of reconciling the "supernatural" within the frameworks of science and rationality and of contemplating the limits of human reason. In this course, we will examine the modes by which higher dimensions have been envisioned in literature as both space and time. How does thinking through the implications of these higher dimensions affect how we interpret these literary worlds—and our own reality? Questions we will consider include: Do dreams and other altered states of consciousness provide access to different information about reality than our waking consciousness perceives? What are the limits of science and rationality? Can souls exist beyond death in the fourth dimension? Is time travel possible? Do parallel universes exist? If everything we know is based on our experience, how can we contemplate things outside of our experience?