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Evil in Literature
Saturdays, April 19, 26 May 3, 10, 17 3 pm to 5 pm
- What is evil?
- How have religions reconciled the existence of suffering with the goodness of God throughout the centuries?
- In what ways have 20th-century artists adopted, challenged, and undermined these traditional religious explanations for evil in reaction to a century marked by the Holocaust, the Soviet Gulags, multiple genocides and two world wars?
- Is evil an inherently religious concept? If so, can we still condemn actions as evil in a world where not everyone shares the same beliefs?
These are some of the questions we will address in this course on the religious, philosophical, and artistic influences on depictions of evil in 19th and 20th century novels, short stories, and poems. Topics to be considered include explanations of evil after the Holocaust; metaphors for evil, then and now; sex, sadism, and mysticism; the banality of evil; and the problems of forgiveness and moral luck in a secular context.
The Professor: Liane Carlson is a PhD Candidate in philosophy of religion at Columbia University. Her interests include 19th and 20th century German and French philosophy, religion and literature, and the history of emotions.
Registration required: Please visit the 2nd floor desk to sign-up, starting April 5.
Presented in the 3rd floor program room. Readings will be handed out in class.
- Audience: Adults