Death and Loss in Literature and Film
2017-2018 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook
   

CS 3530 - Death and Loss in Literature and Film


This course will survey a number of writers and filmmakers and their respective artworks contending with questions of meaning and the poignancy to be found in life at the limits and the irrepressible passage of time. Art, we may say, is an especially rarified response to the dilemma of time and the inexorable loss that attends it. The poet Rilke put it this way:

. . . Once everything, only once. Once and no more. And we, too, once. Never again. But having been this once, even though only once: having been on earth does not seem revocable.

It is precisely this sense of impermanence, of evanescence, of life's ultimate mystery and the potential beauty therein that will serve as our curricular touchstone. "It is not possible," mused the ancient philosopher Heraclitus, "to step twice into the same river." Aeschylus, younger contemporary to Heraclitus, saw suffering as inevitable, with wisdom the hard-won purchase of pain falling "drop by drop upon the heart"-words quoted, movingly, by Robert F. Kennedy in an extemporaneous eulogy on the night of Martin Luther King's assassination. This course will inquire into these bedrock existential/humanistic/transpersonal themes-life at the limits and the place of aesthetics and creative response, with literature and film, especially, offering protection and remedy. 3 credit(s)




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