English 190

Research Seminar: The Literature of Immortality

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Spring 2017 Jones, Donna V.

TTh 12:30-2 C57 Hearst Field Annex Research Seminars

Book List

Gilgamesh; Borges, J. L.: The Immortal; Capek, K.: The Markropulos Case; Gray, John: The Immortalization Commission; Lucretius: On the Nature of Things; Shelley, Mary: The Mortal Immortal; Theroux, Marcel: Strange Bodies

Other Readings and Media

There is an amusing and successful internet meme in circulation somewhat apropos to the contemporary debate around the question of immortality: The meme comically declares "Science can tell you how to clone a dinosaur. The humanities can tell you why that isn't such a good idea." Of course, when offered the prospect of a radically extended lifespan in place of dinosaur clones running amok, one might assume the humanities would gather to the side of science: no to dinosaurs; yes to immortality! Who would not want more life, a longer life, a life that is not marked by the slow, yet inevitable effects of senescence and degeneration? The assumption that immortality would be not only universally desired, but a universal good, undergirds much of the popular, futurist writing. In February 2011 the cover of Time Magazine announced that the year 2045 would mark a time when humanity would achieve virtual immortality; again in 2013 Time presented the tech giant Google's exploration into anti-aging therapies, declaring the venture "Google vs. Death." In sharp contrast, however, if we were to tally the literary and cinematic depictions of immortality—from Gilgamesh to Zardoz—and include even philosophical responses to the possibility of a radically extended life, it appears humanists are as averse to eternal life as they are to dinosaurs in our midst. Why the discrepancy? Is life worth living without the knowledge of our own finitude?

In this seminar we will explore the literary depictions of life without death. We will begin with Greeks (Lucretius and Plato), and Gilgamesh, move through several works of speculative fiction, and conclude with theoretical works on life, death, and biopolitics.

Please read the paragraph about English 190 on page 2 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial Ellis, Nadia

190/2 Research Seminar: Harlem Renaissance Wagner, Bryan

190/3 Research Seminar: Literature and the Linguistic Turn Blevins, Jeffrey

190/4 Research Seminar: Jane Austen and the Theory of the Novel Miller, D.A.

190/5 Research Seminar: Writing a World in Crisis: Medieval and Modern Perry, R. D.

190/6 Research Seminar: Shakespeare: From the Globe to the Global Bahr, Stephanie M

190/7 Research Seminar: Place-Love: Fiction and the Melancholy of Form Xin, Wendy Veronica

190/8 Research Seminar: Literatures of the Ocean Sorensen, Janet

190/9 Research Seminar: <em>Beowulf</em> Thornbury, Emily V.

190/10 Research Seminar: Hollywood in the 1930s Knapp, Jeffrey

190/13 Research Seminar: California Literature & Film Since WWI Starr, George A.

Fall, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Emily Dickinson Shoptaw, John

190/2 Research Seminar: Slow Seeing / Slow Reading Hejinian, Lyn

190/3 Research Seminar: Moby-Dick, and More Otter, Samuel

190/4 Research Seminar: U.S. Modernism Goble, Mark

190/5 Research Seminar: Alfred Hitchcock Bader, Julia

190/6 Research Seminar: The Medium Is the Message: Reading Poetry in Manuscript & Print, 1300-1600 Bahr, Stephanie M

190/7 Research Seminar: Note new topic: Troy and Tragedy Perry, R. D.

190/8 Research Seminar: James / Baldwin Best, Stephen M.

190/9 Research Seminar: On Style Xin, Wendy Veronica

190/10 Research Seminar: Do I Dare? Indecision and Modernist Literature Blevins, Jeffrey

190/11 Research Seminar: Modern California Literature and Film Starr, George A.

190/12 Research Seminar: Modern Utopian and Dystopian Literature and Film Starr, George A.

Spring, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: The Sixties Goble, Mark

190/2 Research Seminar: Through a Future Darkly: Global Crisis and the Triumph of Dystopia Danner, Mark

190/3 Research Seminar: Late Henry James Breitwieser, Mitchell

190/4 Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial Ellis, Nadia

190/5 Research Seminar: Contemporary British Literature and Culture Falci, Eric

190/6 Research Seminar: Classical and Renaissance Drama Knapp, Jeffrey

190/7 Research Seminar: Materiality: How the Physical World Is Made to Mean Flynn, Catherine

190/8 Research Seminar: Vital Texts: Literature and the Discourse of Life Gaydos, Rebecca

190/9 Research Seminar: Medieval and Renaissance Lyric Crosson, Chad Gregory

190/10 Research Seminar: Purcell and Handel: Their Art in Setting English Texts to Music Hanson, Kristin

190/11 Research Seminar Lee, Steven S.

190/12 Research Seminar: Daniel Defoe and the Rise of the 18th-Century Novel Starr, George A.

190/13 Research Seminar: Keats and Literary Tradition Francois, Anne-Lise

Back to Semester List