"Justice" is a huge, abstract, and highly debated topic. In this course, we'll use a widely varied selection of literary texts as discussion-starters about the nature, meanings, scope, limits, applications, and demands of justice. We'll perform close readings of pieces from ancient philosophy, contemporary short stories, poetry across the ages, and more. We'll hear from voices out of various cultures, listening with attentive sympathy and openness to having our ideas challenged and expanded. And we might end with some discussion of the practical application of what we learn.
Throughout philosophical works, fiction, poetry, and other genres, writers have pondered and described what it means to be hospitable to one another. They have told tales of lavish entertainment for guests, care for wandering strangers, regular practices of welcome, and extraordinary grace towards others. Some have even set out models of practical (or sometimes impossible) ways to invite people into our time, our spaces, and our lives. In this course, we'll read and discuss a few such texts from across a variety of times and cultures, and we'll talk about cultivating practices of hospitality ourselves.
The Seven Deadly sins--lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride--may result in eternal damnation, but they also make jolly good stories. We'll take a look at one work of literature each class that explores, describes, deplores, warns against, or otherwise engages with one of these deadly sins, and we'll talk about whether we detect a universal moral impulse underneath the varied texts we read.