The following courses are directly relevant to the Philosophy, Religion, and Literature minor, and can be taken for course credit in the minor. If there are courses beyond this list which you think are relevant, and for which you would like to receive PRL course credit, please contact either Professor Susannah Monta OR Professor Christopher J. Shields, co-directors of the minor.
Religion and Literature
This course has as its essential context the crisis of authority of discourse in the modern period subsequent to literature gaining independence from Christianity. It focuses specifically on the three main postures literature strikes vis-a-vis confessional forms of Christianity no longer thought to have cultural capital. (i) The antithetical posture. Here Christianity is viewed exclusively in negative terms as repressive, authoritarian, and obscurantist, the very opposite of the true humanism that is literature’s vocation. Readings here include Voltaire and Camus. (ii) The retrievalist posture. This posture is fundamentally nostalgic. The loss of Christianity’s cultural authority is mourned, and literature is seen to be an illegitimate substitute. Readings include Dostoyevski and Marilyn Robinson. (iii) The parasitic posture. Here Christianity is criticized but not totally dismissed. Portions of it are savable, especially select elements of the New Testament which emphasizes human being’s capacity for knowledge and freedom. Central here is the work of the Romantic Shelley and American Transcendentalist Emerson. In addition to these, we consider James Joyce. In addition to the figures and texts covered in the class, I will refer in passing to quite literally dozens of authors who illustrate one or other of these positions. Perhaps one of them is a favorite of yours. Cross-listed with THEO 40823 01.