Fall 2008


Listed in: European Studies, as EUST-47


Ilan Stavans (Section 01)


This interdisciplinary course will reflect on shifting representations of the divine in theology, philosophy, literature and the arts. Students will reflect on the tension between polytheism and monotheism in ancient times, read portions of medieval and Renaissance texts, and treatises and novels from the Enlightenment to the contemporary period. Foundational sources like the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, the Popol Vuh, and various others will be featured, along with material by such authors as St. Augustine, Aquinas, al-Ghazali, and Maimonides. Spinoza's geometrical system, the emergence of secularism as a refutation of God's omnipotence, and agnosticism and `atheism as modern responses to religious faith will all be covered. The course will include readings from Newton, Berkeley, Dostoevsky, Freud, Unamuno, Einstein, Jung, Kafka, Pirandello, Borges, and Wittgenstein, as well as explorations of music from such composers Johann Sebastian Bach and John Cage to Negro Spirituals. Finally, we will analyze such films as Ingmar Bergman's cinematic meditations, Woody Allen's comedies, and The Matrix. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Stavans.