Literature of Trauma

Spring 2017
T 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Area V
MDIV Requirements: 
Permission Not Required
Limited Enrollment
Course Description: 

How can literary art respond to extreme suffering, particularly when it involves the trauma of large-scale violence and oppression, which seems to defy aesthetic response?  How can literary artists fulfill a summons to bear witness and remember without vitiating the apparent senselessness of human atrocity? How do theological responses to trauma interact with those made by creative writers? This course will examine these and other questions through the works of poets and novelists responding to the traumas of war (WWI poetry), genocide (Holocaust poetry and fiction), historic violence and oppression (African-American, East European and Latin American poetry and fiction), and the end of the world (apocalyptic fiction). Not a course in clinical psychology or pastoral theology, focus will be placed on the literary-critical and theological issues that arise through close reading of these texts.

NB This course will be limited to 18 for-credit participants. First preference will go to literature concentration students. All others will be asked to submit a one paragraph description of their reasons for taking the class, and from these the professor will decide who will complete the total number of slots.

Background Expected: 

No background is required though some background in literary studies is helpful.

Course Requirements: 

Readings: Weekly reading of the assigned texts with some supplemental critical work by or about the work.

Papers: Each student will write one shorter, 4-6 page paper due by the mid-term break on one of the texts studied, and one longer, 12-15 page paper comparing and contrasting at least two works studied due by the end of the term.

Students will be expected to participate in all of the discussions, and each will be asked to produce a week-by-week Reader’s Journal over the course of the semester, due by the end of the term.

Basis of Evaluation: 

Paper 1: 30% Paper 2: 50% Participation: 20% (15% for Reader’s Journal, 5% for in-class participation)