English | Projects In Reading and Writing: "I'm Gonna Live Forever"
W170 | 6960 | Erwin


6960    MWF    11:15a - 12:05p    WH 002    Bonnie Erwin

TOPIC: "I'm Gonna Live Forever": Secular Construction of Immortality

Why has the idea of immortality fascinated our culture for so long?
What would it mean to live forever, and what does living forever
have to do with living a so-called "good life"? In this course, we
will analyze 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 recent popular culture, 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 views of immortality. Sub-topics of the course
will include scientific discussions of immortality, supernatural
constructions of immortal figures, notions 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?