ENGLISH 407 - Topics in English Language and Literature
Winter 2020, Section 002 - Literature and Human Rights
Instruction Mode: Section 002 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


What are human rights? And why do we believe in them? This course will help students explore these questions by introducing them to key texts and debates at the intersection of global literatures and international human rights. Recognition of universal rights for all human beings is widely understood to be one of the most important moral and political developments of the last century. Many scholars have contended that a belief in human rights is grounded in the reading and writing of literature. To test these claims, students in this class work with literary texts as a means of investigating the historical origins, present challenges, and potential future of human rights as a framework for global justice.

Course themes include the meaning and definition of the “human,” the ethics and politics of human/animal distinction, the role of literature in processes of truth and reconciliation, the value of emotions such as sympathy and empathy, the history and literature of refugees, and role of varying genres (the graphic novel, speculative fiction) in the representation or human rights issues. Novels by J.M. Coetzee (South Africa), Marjane Satrapi (France-Iran), Michael Ondaatje (Canada-Sri Lanka), Chris Cleave (UK), and Octavia Butler (USA), will be read alongside work by Hannah Arendt, Ishmael Beah, Rohinton Mistry, and Franz Kafka.

Course Requirements:

Attendance and Participation (20%).

Three Mini-Essays (600-800 words): (35%).

Mid-Term essay on (7 pages): (20%)

Final essay project on a topic of your choice (10 pages): (25%)


ENGLISH 407 - Topics in English Language and Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
002 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
003 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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