English | Projects in Reading & Writing: I'm Gonna Live Forever
W170 | 16565 | Erwin

TOPIC:  “I’M GONNA LIVE FOREVER: Secular Constructions of Immortality
•22660		MWF		9:05-9:55am		BH 137	Erwin
•16565		MWF		12:20-1:10pm		BH 245	Erwin
Why has the idea of immortality fascinated so many of us for so
long?  What would it mean to live forever?  What does living forever
have to do with living a so-called “good life”?  In this composition
course, the material for our practice in writing, reading, and
critical thinking will come from a range of competing secular – that
is, non-religious – constructions of what immortality might look
like.  We will not look extensively at religious ideas of
immortality, but instead will primarily examine contemporary non-
religious representations of immortality that exist alongside of the
religious beliefs many people hold. While our chief focus will be
representations of immortality from our own time, we will also
consider a handful of texts from other moments in history in order
to provide a framework for understanding the shifting social and
cultural forces that shape people’s view of immortality.  Sub-topics
of the course will include scientific discussions of immortality,
supernatural constructions of immortal figures, popular culture
representations of fame as immortality, and discourses of
memorialization.  Our readings will include a range of articles,
short stories, and book excerpts, and we will also examine cultural
artifacts like films and internet media. Our inquiry in this class
will be guided by the following question: What can the various
competing secular constructions of immortality tell us about how
communities of living people envision their responsibilities to one
another, and how do these imagined possibilities for immortality
suggest individuals should live, in order to live a good life?
While pursuing this inquiry question, we will focus continuously on
developing the core skills in critical reading, critical thinking,
and analytical writing that are the building blocks of college
success in any discipline.