Comparative Literature | Picaresque and Quixotic
C200 | 1118 | Prof. Maiorino


Satisfies COAS Requirements for AHLA , Cultural Studies and Intensive
writing.  Requires registration in COAS W333

This course focuses on two fundamental modes of expression, which are
stylistic as well as cultural and ideological.  The Picaresque
describes the life of need, and it portrays characters who struggle in
market places and roadsides to survive and to achieve economic
stability, whatever it takes.  This experience is common to the
majority of humanity since the very beginning of communal and
competitive living in urban milieus.  The quixotic, instead, refers to
that aspect of human nature which is moved by the understanding of the
importance of values which transcend need and add to the quality of
life and purpose of civilized life.  The picaresque deals with
necessity and the quixotic deals with choice; both are indispensable
to make life human and to enrich our appreciation of the world.  By
taking up two basic modes of human existence, this course sets out to
lead students to judge for themselves how much of the picaresque and
how much of the quixotic is necessary to make their own individual
lives the best that they can be.  The goal is to study these two
aspects of life and, hopefully, to achieve a balance between the
picaresque and the quixotic.  So conceived, our approach to literary
texts and pictorial artworks is aimed at stimulating some kind of
"happy" balance between the two.  So defined, this course can
contribute to fulfilling a major goal of college education.