Last Updated: 11/30/2007
Faculty: David Marr American studies
Major areas of study include literature and philosophy.
Class Standing: Juniors or seniors; transfer students welcome.
Art lives only on the constraints it imposes on itself; it dies of all others.
Scheherazade agrees. For it was she who told the Sultan stories in order to live another day. She had to get the words right, or else. Death Considered considers the words–the forms–writers and philosophers use when they breathe life into the problem of human death.
The inescapability of death can concentrate the mind. The contemporary philosopher Odo Marquard argues that from the facts of life’s brevity and death’s finality it follows that absolute personal choices are senseless. From other philosophers come perplexing questions: Given that the human being knows he or she will die, how does he or she know this? Is it even possible to imagine one’s own death? If my death is not one of my experiences, in what sense is it mine?
In Death Considered we will read the following works of prose fiction and philosophy: Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov; Leo Tolstoi, Anna Karenina; Henry James, Portrait of a Lady; James Joyce, Dubliners; Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain; William Faulkner, Light in August; Albert Camus, The Fall and Resistance, Rebellion and Death; Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man; Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March; and Odo Marquard, In Defense of the Accidental.
Death Considered is for the intellectually curious, diligent student. There will be weekly in-class exams on the reading, seminar reports on the authors’ lives and times, one essay on an assigned topic, scheduled conferences, a comprehensive final exam; full attendance is required.
Credits: 16 per quarter
Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in any field requiring competence in the uses of language, conceptual analysis and interpretation, such as literature, philosophy, history, law and public service.
Planning Units: Culture, Text and Language