2020-2021 Undergraduate Bulletin

LIT 342 Perspectives on Literature and Human Rights

3 hours 

This course will focus on the representation and interrogation of human rights and related issues in literary texts. We will be looking at how human rights have been construed and debated at particular historical moments by writers from specific cultures and groups. In doing so we will place an emphasis on due process, a concept which, although arguably common to every society, takes on very different meanings depending on that society's structures, beliefs, customs, norms and values. Every society, for example, will have its own conception of (1) the priority of collective rights and imperatives, and (2) the priority of individual rights and imperatives. Each semester, depending on their areas of specialization, individual instructors will anchor the course in one or more specific cultures, historical moments, sub-topics and primary texts. Through close reading and analysis of a variety of literary forms, we may examine, for example: natural rights; the right to habeas corpus; the right to self-determination and self-expression (including the right to write); the right to preserve and practice one's cultural heritage; and the right to depart from socially constructed norms of behavior. The history of the human rights struggle and relevant concepts and debates in the related disciplines of government, law, philosophy and sociology will provide an analytic framework.




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