Dissident Lit

Spring 2016-2017

27102 / 47102

Brian Goodman

This seminar will explore the literature and history of “the dissident,” a central figure of the human rights imagination from the Cold War up to the present. From the global spread of Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” to the reception of Solzhenitsyn in the United States, a major goal of the course will be to explore how the multidirectional circulation of literature and culture between America and the world has shaped ideas and practices of dissent in a variety of locations. Through close attention to several genres of writing and art, we will explore how the extraordinary ethical pressures faced by dissidents shape literary and artistic form. Along the way we will read novels, poems, essays, and criticism drawn from a range of traditions (from the US and Latin America to Russia and East-Central Europe) as we consider both the possibilities and dilemmas of literary dissidence. For their final project, students will identify a “dissident” writer or artist at work today, whether on the other side of the world or just around the corner in Chicago. (B, H)