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seminars > fall 2013 schedule > seminar: Islands in the Stream: Literature, Geography, Identity


Honors Seminars Fall 2013

Islands in the Stream: Literature, Geography, Identity

HON 293 Sec:002  
3 hours  
GER Cat:
Tompkins Hall 0G113  
Dr. James R. Knowles
Teaching Assistant Professor
Restrictions: N/A  

Islands, real and imagined, have played a prominent role in the self-understanding of human communities at least since Homer's Odysseus cast off from the burning shores of Troy and made the long trip back to his island home. And because of Odysseus, islands can never just be islands in a strict geological sense. They can never just be bits of rock and earth surrounded by sea. Islands, this course suggests, are pictures of people. They are simultaneously destinations and dungeons, paradises and prisons, fortresses and fantasies. Islands manifest our most cherished hopes and our most ingrained fears - about ourselves, our relations to others, and our capacities to inhabit our own bodies (tiny islands of flesh and bone). In this seminar, we will explore representations of islands in literature, philosophy, and film, beginning with ancient Greece and finishing with American television (but not necessarily in chronological order). Materials may include: Homer, The Odyssey; Dante, Purgatorio; Thomas More, Utopia; Shakespeare, Tempest; lyrics by John Donne and Seamus Heaney; Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe; J.G. Ballard, Concrete Island; Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are (along with Spike Jonze's recent film version); and Lost (the TV series). In addition to the ordinary kinds of written work (responses and short essays), students will work collaboratively on a major research project that requires delivery of scholarship in digital form (for example: visualization, text mining, spatial mapping, animation, gaming, etc.).