TITLE: THE RECLUSE: DIVINITY, DREAMER, AND DEVIANT

This section of W170 will examine and complicate the cultural figure of the recluse and its representations in and relationships with society. Although the recluse or hermit is traditionally thought of as a person who voluntarily withdraws from the world into solitude, society rarely lets such people go. The cultural fascination with those who seek to shape their identity by refusing to be identified with mainstream mores, traditions, and customs suggests how recluses can reflect and critique social issues. Using the figure of the recluse we will consider such questions as "How does withdrawal shape the self?" and "How does withdrawal shape or reflect society?" from various cultural viewpoints. Specifically, the course will develop from the traditional figure of the recluse as saint to examine recluses as intellectuals, entertainers, fanatics, and deviants: how they view themselves and how they are represented as symbols of knowledge, status, power, and disseminators of particular ideas of the self and society.