COMPLIT 122 - Writing World Literatures
Fall 2020, Section 002 - Humanism and its Discontents
Instruction Mode: Section 002 is   Hybrid (see other Sections below)
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


What is humanism? We might have a sense that it has something to do with valuing human life, helping those in need, ensuring freedom and equality for all—in short, the sorts of values that we might consider more or less uncontroversial. Yet humanism has also been the center of a complex and long-standing debate about its uses, abuses, and the very definitions that it entails. How do we decide what is in the best interest of humanity? What rights or obligations do we have to protect humanity? What do we even mean by humanity? Or for that matter, by human?

This course will attempt to think through these questions and others through the lens of literature, film and philosophy ranging from the 19th century to the present day. Readings will include literary works by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Alain Robbe-Grillet, films including Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, as well as philosophical texts by Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Edward Said. Through this diverse array of materials, we will consider the various ways that humanism can be understood, as well as how the term has been criticized and defended. There will be graded and ungraded writing tasks, including formal papers ranging in length from 3-8 pages, informal response assignments, and peer reviews.

This is a discussion-based course, and we will spend much of our time in a workshop environment, talking about each other’s writing. Over the course of the academic term, we will focus, as writers, on the creation of complex, analytic arguments that matter in a variety of academic and public-facing contexts.

Course Requirements:

Course assessment will be based on a mixture of class participation and assignments submitted to Canvas.

Class Format:

This course will meet in-person on Fridays from 10:00-11:30AM, and will use Canvas for all asynchronous online components, including discussions. On certain occasions throughout the semester, optional synchronous meetings may be conducted through Zoom. Students should be on-campus in order to attend in-person meetings, as well as have access to a camera and microphone.


COMPLIT 122 - Writing World Literatures
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
WF 8:30AM - 10:00AM
002 (REC)
F 10:00AM - 11:30AM
W 10:00AM - 11:30AM
003 (REC)
W 11:30AM - 1:00PM
F 11:30AM - 1:00PM
004 (REC)
Tu 8:30AM - 10:00AM
Th 8:30AM - 10:00AM
005 (REC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
006 (REC)
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

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