Comparative Literature | Modern Fiction and the Image of the Human
C301 | 16570 | Professor Angela Fernandes


Meets MW 12:20-2:50 PM
A & H and CS Credit

The common assumption that all literary fiction rests upon the
representation of human life often makes us underestimate the
complex issues raised when considering the images of the human
presented and discussed in literature. Moreover, the theoretical
tradition of classical Humanism and modern anti-humanisms adds
complexity and polemic to most critical stances. Nevertheless, the
question of how to represent human beings, individually and in
groups, has become a central issue for writers of modern fiction, as
questions of self-knowledge and social identity combine with the
discussion of moral values, body limits and discursive agency.
In this course, we will explore various perspectives on the literary
representation of the human, understood not merely as a theme but
rather as a fundamental artistic problem. Taking as our point of
departure the 1925 essay The dehumanization of art, by the Spanish
philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, we shall read and discuss literary
texts by Iberian and Ibero-American novelists and poets, including
Machado de Assis, Ramón Gómez de la Serna, Fernando Pessoa, Jorge
Luis Borges (Ficciones), and Clarice Lispector (Laços de Família).
Texts may be read in English translation.
Students will be asked to write several short exercises and a final
paper.