Comparative Literature | Images of the Self: East and West
C147 | 1199 | Eoyang
MWF 1:25-2:15 BH 317 Prof. Eoyang
Above section carries Cultural Studies & AHLA credit
Is the "self" a universal concept? Or is it a fairly modern invention?
Are all notions of "self" defined in the same way? Or do some define the
"self" in terms of what it is distinct from, while others define the
"self" in terms of what and who it relates to? Is the self singular in
each individual, or might one inhabit different "selves" concurrently? How
does the notion of "self" differ from the concept of "identity"?
These questions will be examined through a study of literary and
philosophical texts, ancient and modern, Eastern and Western. The course
will begin with a survey of philosophical texts that establish different
premises for the self: Plato (both his Republic and his Ion), Laozi,
Mencius, Zhuangzi. A section of the course will be devoted to "soliloquys
of the self", in which individual voices speculate aloud on the
characteristics of a "self" -- from Shakespeare's Hamlet and his Shylock
to Montaigne (Essays) to Rousseau (Autobiography) and Basho (The Narrow
Road to the North). Traditional western works will include: Chekhov's Sea
Gull, Ibsen's Enemy of the People and Hedda Gabler. Traditional Eastern
texts will include selected Tang poems from China, narrative tales from
Japan. The course will conclude with a selection of post-modern, hybrid
texts, such as Kobo Abe's Woman in the Dunes, Mishima's Temple of the
Golden Pavilion, and Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day.
There will be three papers (minimum: six pages); occasional oral
presentations in class and short writing exercises (one or two pages in
length). No examinations.