Sin & Evil in Western Lit.
Taught By: Melissa Monroe
The problem of evil is central to any examination of the human situation. Philosophers and social scientists have taken various stances on this problem, as have different religious traditions. Some hold that people are essentially good, succumbing to evil only as a result of temptation or social pressure. Others maintain that we are fallen creatures who must constantly struggle to overcome our base impulses. Still others view human nature as essentially divided, a battleground between good and evil. Many recent thinkers would argue that all these viewpoints are meaningless, that the terms good and evil have no objective validity, referring only to socially constructed beliefs which vary enormously over time and space. In this course, we read texts from the Western tradition which approach evil from various perspectives, both religious and secular. Some major themes include Satan and other personifications of evil, knowledge as temptation, transgression as heroic rebellion, the figure of the Doppelgänger and the allure of decadence. Our main focus will be on how these themes are addressed in works of literature, but we also read selections from nonliterary authors whose views will inform our discussion of the literary texts. Among the authors we read are Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Goethe, Milton, Hawthorne, James Hogg, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Baudelaire, Flannery O’Connor, Mikhail Bulgakov, Hannah Arendt, Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo, Kazuo Ishiguro and José Saramago.
College: New School for Social Research (GF)
Department: Liberal Studies (GLIB)
Campus: New York City (GV)
Course Format: Seminar (R)
Max Enrollment: 12
Enrollment Status: Open*
*Enrollment status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 2:51pm 5/24/2019