Comparative Literature | Images of the Self: East and West
C147 | 15615 | Claire Chen


MW 2:30-3:45
fulfills A&H and CS requirements


How do we perceive ourselves within society? Where does the idea of
the self come from? Is it a mere invention? What does the idea of self
say about collectivity and individuality? How is self perception
different in the East and the West, and in different classes and genders?

This course will explore both Eastern and Western concepts of the self
from the ancient to the modern periods through comparisons of
philosophy, literature, and film. We will focus on three themes: 1)
the relationship of the individual to society 2) the outcast as hero
3) the self as artist. Our readings will include The Republic by
Plato, The Analects by Confucius, excerpts from the writings of
Zhuangzi, Laozi, the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Thoreau’s
Walden, Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mishima Yukio’s
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly,
Eileen Chang’s The Rouge of the North, James Joyce’s Portrait of the
Artist as a Young Man, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray as
well as Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw.