Humanities 53. Revolution, Reform and Conservatism in Western Culture





What is the function of literary texts in moments, from Plato to the Russian Revolution, that promise total, enlightened societal transformation? Each week, this course will focus on two texts related to selected “revolutionary” moments, one philosophical and one literary. Literary texts do not participate easily in the revolutionary order. They resist the textual simplicities of philosophy. Which do we trust: philosophy or literature? Texts include many found in traditional “Great Books” courses: Plato, Virgil, Augustine, Dante, Luther, Milton, Swift, Rousseau, Twain, Kant, Marx, and Chekov, among others.