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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Comparative Literature (CMLIT)

CMLIT 143 (GH;US;IL) Human Rights and World Literature (3) Human rights violations discussed in tandem with their literary representation, presented in a global and comparative context.

CMLIT 143 Human Rights and World Literature (3)
(GH;US;IL)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.


“Human rights” refers to basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law. But these ideas have not always been a part of human thought and some scholars believe that without certain forms of literature today’s understanding of human rights would not exist. Through comparative analysis of a variety of human rights storytelling genres that reflect a range of contexts, this course will suggest that it is impossible to understand human rights without also thinking about the stories that create and sustain their idea.

One main premise of this course is that the representation of human rights violations is always a vexed undertaking. It is both urgent and necessary, while also incomplete and inadequate. In order to explore this dilemma, this course focuses on the intersection between human rights advocacy and the various cultural forms that explicitly attempt to participate in human rights discourse. The course will cover a variety of cultural forms such as comic books, movies, photography, novels, testimonials, poetry, plays, etc. that reflect on human rights atrocities such as slavery, the Holocaust, war, dictatorships, apartheid, Genocide, and more.

At the center of the course are questions about aesthetics and ethics. What are the risks and obligations of human rights storytelling and how are these linked to specific cultural forms and aesthetic practices? This course examines a range of human rights stories through a balance of context and close reading, where stories are studied both for what they say and how they say it.


General Education: GH
Diversity: US;IL
Bachelor of Arts: Other Cultures and Humanities
Effective: Summer 2010

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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