2020-2021 Undergraduate Bulletin

LIT 311 Literature and Ethics

3 hours 

This course will focus on the ways in which a literary text can become a laboratory for ethical inquiry - a place where abstract issues and complex questions about the "right" the "good" and the "just" come to life. We will also consider how by creating specific conditions of time place character and action literary texts provoke readers to question their own personal but perhaps unexamined positions and judgments regarding ethical issues. Topics may include the ethical dimensions of responsibility loyalty obligation equity honesty and secrecy. We will examine how cultural and societal norms the rule-of-law and "higher" or divine laws make competing demands on characters; how characters negotiate those demands; and how others respond. In our analysis we will apply and compare philosophical principles including rule-based situational and utilitarian and other consequentialist arguments concerning the "right" thing to do. Selected readings from primary texts in ethics will provide a background for the analysis of literary texts.




ENG 201, and any 200-level LIT course or HJS 250