This is a discussion course about literature and violence. Its method is simple: read a book a week, sometimes two; come to class prepared to talk about them. Or, in schematic form:
1. Attend class
2. Come Prepared
3. Take Part
Apart from this, a final paper taking up some of the themes and works discussed in the class will be due on December 8. A short paragraph setting out the theme or subject of the final paper will be due on November 24.
Grades awarded for the course will be based on attendance, class participation and the quality of the written work.
Required Reading and Editions.
Please use the editions specified in the list below. I would strongly urge you to purchase the required texts, from the Bard Bookstore or elsewhere; but in any event do make sure you read the required texts in the particular editions indicated.
Sketch of a Syllabus
Introduction to the course. Discussion of poems: Carolyn Forché, "The Colonel" , Wislawa Szymborska, "Tortures". Recommended films: Battle of Algiers, Burn, Seven Days in May.
Richard Lourie, The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin: A Novel
(Da Capo, 2000 ). Leon Trotsky, "Their Morals and Ours." John Dewey, "On 'Their Moral and Ours.'" Discussion mostly based on The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin: A Novel
. Discussion of poems by Chris Albani, "Kalakuta Republic", specifically the first poem, "Casual Banter". Recommended further reading: Robert Conquest's The Great Terror
, Robert C. Tucker's biography of Joseph Stalin, Arthur Kessler's Darkness at Noon
. Recommended film: The Assassination of Leon Trotsky (with Richard Burton).
Homer, The Illiad
, translated by Stanley Lombardo (Hackett, 1997 [800 BC]); Simone Weil, "The Illiad, or the Poem of Force" (1940), in Simone Weil and Rachel Bespaloff, War and the Illiad
(New York Review Books, 2005). Discussion based mainly on The Illiad
and Simone Weil's work. Two handouts for further reading/understanding/contextualizing: 'The Books' and 'Basic Chronology of the Homeric Epics'. Recommended to look at other translations of The Illiad
. Recommended further reading: War Music
, part of an adaptation The Illiad
, and Logue, All Day Permanent Red: An Account of the First Battle Scenes of Homer's Illiad
(Farrar Straus, 2003).
Aeschylus, The Oresteia
, translated by Alan J. Shapiro (Oxford, 2004 [459 BC]). Recommended further reading: The Fagel translation of The Oresteia
, which has a very good introduction.
William Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar" in Julius Caesar: The Oxford Shakespeare
(Oxford, 2009 ); Hannah Arendt, "On Violence,"  in Crises of the Republic
Stendhal, The Charterhouse of Parma
, translated by Margaret Mauldon (Oxford, 1999 ).
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Demons
, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (Vintage, 1999 ). André Glucksmann, Dostoyevsky in Manhattan
G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday
(Annotated Edition: Ignatius Press, 2004 ).
Joseph Conrad, Nostromo
(Penguin, 2007 ).November 17
Curzio Malaparte, Kaputt
(New York Review Books, 2005 ).
William Golding, Lord of the Flies
(Casebook Edition: Perigree, 1987 ).
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridien
V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River
James Ellroy, American Tabloid
Don DeLillo, Mao II
René Girard, Violence and the Sacred
(Johns Hopkins, 1979)
Irving Howe, Politics and the Novel
(John Dee, 2002 )
Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Emperor
Edward Luttwak, Coup D'Etat: A Practical Handbook
Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others