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

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.

Please click here for more information about enrollment in English 190.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

spring, 2020

190/1

Research Seminar: Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics

190/2

Research Seminar: William Faulkner’s Temporalities

190/3

Research Seminar: American Romanticism

190/4

Research Seminar: Poetry and the Virtues

190/5

Research Seminar: British Fiction Since 1945

190/6

Research Seminar: Hollywood in the Thirties

190/7

Research Seminar: Jane Austen

190/8

Research Seminar: James Joyce

190/9

Research Seminar: Victorian Versification

190/10

Research Seminar: Modern California Books and Film

fall, 2019

190/1

Research Seminar: Creative Sentences

190/2

Research Seminar: Shakespeare and Company

190/3

Research Seminar: American Transcendentalism

190/4

Research Seminar: Cli Fi (Climate Change Fiction)

190/5

Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial

190/6

Research Seminar: Literature on Trial: Romanticism, Law, Justice

190/8

Research Seminar: Ideology

190/10

Research Seminar: Inventing Nature and Constructing Race

spring, 2019

190/1

Research Seminar: Flann O'Brien and Irish Literature

190/2

Research Seminar: Transsexual Literatures and Cultures

190/3

Research Seminar: James / Baldwin

190/5

Research Seminar: California Books and Movies Since World War I

190/6

Research Seminar: Carnal Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Literature

190/7

Research Seminar

190/8

Research Seminar: Edgar Allan Poe

190/9

Research Seminar: Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln

190/10

Research Seminar: Emily Dickinson

190/11

Research Seminar: Willa Cather

190/13

Research Seminar: Sixties Cinema

fall, 2018

190/1

Research Seminar: Melville in the 50s

190/2

Research Seminar: Laughter and Vision: Explorations in the Novel of Ideas

190/3

Research Seminar: Representations of Coercion and Resistance in African American Slave, Jim Crow, and Neo-slave Narratives

190/4

Research Seminar: William Blake

190/7

Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial

190/8

Research Seminar: Repression and Resistance

190/9

Research Seminar: Mark Twain

Griffin, Ben

190/10

Research Seminar

No instructor assigned yet.

190/11

Research Seminar

No instructor assigned yet.

190/12

Research Seminar: California Books and Movies Since World War I

190/13

Research Seminar: The Jamesian Novel

190/14

Research Seminar

spring, 2018

190/1

Research Seminar: Trials of Literature: Romanticism, Justice, and the Law

190/2

Research Seminar: James Joyce

190/3

Research Seminar: Hawthorne & Melville

190/4

Research Seminar: Reading Walden Carefully

190/5

Research Seminar: Harlem Renaissance

190/6

Research Seminar: Sixty Years Since: The Historical Novel

190/7

Research Seminar: Contemporary Historical Fiction

190/8

Research Seminar: Literary Theory and Its Objects

190/9

Research Seminar: The Faerie Queene: The Ethics of Imagination

190/10

Research Seminar: Pagan Fictions in Christian Literature

190/11

Research Seminar: Andrew Marvell

190/12

Research Seminar: California Books and Movies Since World War I

190/13

Research Seminar: Alfred Hitchcock

fall, 2017

190/1

Research Seminar: Britain in the ‘60s

190/2

Research Seminar: The Historical Novel

190/3

Research Seminar: Another Day in Purgatory: Irish Literature and the Afterlife

190/6

Research Seminar: Literature and Revolution

190/7

Research Seminar: Monsters, Exiles, and Outlaws in Medieval Literature

190/8

Research Seminar: George Eliot and the Realist Novel

190/9

Research Seminar: Historiography and Narrative: Literature and the Interstices of History

190/10

Research Seminar: Suspicious Mind

190/11

Research Seminar: Nonsense

190/12

Research Seminar: Making Memories

spring, 2017

190/1

Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial

190/2

Research Seminar: Harlem Renaissance

190/3

Research Seminar: Literature and the Linguistic Turn

190/4

Research Seminar: Jane Austen and the Theory of the Novel

190/5

Research Seminar: Writing a World in Crisis: Medieval and Modern

190/6

Research Seminar: Shakespeare: From the Globe to the Global

190/7

Research Seminar: Place-Love: Fiction and the Melancholy of Form

190/8

Research Seminar: Literatures of the Ocean

190/9

Research Seminar: Beowulf

190/10

Research Seminar: Hollywood in the 1930s

190/13

Research Seminar: California Literature & Film Since WWI


Back to Semester List