Daemons, Enigmas, and the Cosmic Image: Classical and Modern Allegory
Allegories are everywhere--from novels, art, and philosophy to news, political rhetoric and the law. They confront us as something strange, as overly baroque or disappointingly simplistic, as a symbolic mystery that becomes blandly prosaic once the proper interpretive key has been found. Allegories can be abstract and ethereal (e.g. Dante traveling through the heavenly spheres), but they can also make abstract ideas concrete: the idea of justice becomes the Roman goddess Iustitia, blindfolded, holding a sword and a set of scales, a statue in front of a courthouse. They try to explain life's complexities, but the stories they tell are much stranger than the lives that we live: the insatiable longing for our significant other is really the search for our other true half, since once we were round creatures rolling happily around but were cut in half by Zeus for our transgressions. What are these allegorical texts doing for us, and why are they doing it in such bewildering ways?
This course looks at the persistence of allegory. We will inquire into its origins in the Classical world, and we will try to understand how it has been found (or made) useful by writers and literary theorists in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The texts that interest us will make simple things mysterious and mysterious things simple, transforming the imaginable into the visible and the visible into the imaginary. And we will try to find our way through this mode of writing and of reading that insistently brings opposites together, connecting different realms of experience, knowledge, and language in ways that both produce and defy sense.
|Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar
|Grading Mode: Student Option
|Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CLST-Literature)(COL)(CSCT)
|Past Enrollment Probability: 75% - 89%