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, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Trials of Literature: Romanticism, Justice, and the Law Langan, Celeste
190/2 Research Seminar: James Joyce Flynn, Catherine
190/3 Research Seminar: Hawthorne & Melville Tamarkin, Elisa
190/4 Research Seminar: Reading Walden Carefully Breitwieser, Mitchell
190/5 Research Seminar: Harlem Renaissance Wagner, Bryan
190/6 Research Seminar: Sixty Years Since: The Historical Novel Kolb, Margaret
190/7 Research Seminar: Contemporary Historical Fiction Yoon, Irene
190/8 Research Seminar: Literary Theory and Its Objects Creasy, CFS
190/9 Research Seminar: The Faerie Queene: The Ethics of Imagination Landreth, David
190/10 Research Seminar: Pagan Fictions in Christian Literature Hobson, Jacob
190/11 Research Seminar: Andrew Marvell Picciotto, Joanna M
190/12 Research Seminar: California Books and Movies Since World War I Starr, George A.
190/13 Research Seminar: Alfred Hitchcock Bader, Julia
Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Britain in the ‘60s Gang, Joshua
190/2 Research Seminar: The Historical Novel Puckett, Kent
190/3 Research Seminar: Another Day in Purgatory: Irish Literature and the Afterlife Creasy, CFS
190/6 Research Seminar: Literature and Revolution Lee, Steven S.
190/7 Research Seminar: Monsters, Exiles, and Outlaws in Medieval Literature Hobson, Jacob
190/8 Research Seminar: George Eliot and the Realist Novel Kolb, Margaret
190/9 Research Seminar: Historiography and Narrative: Literature and the Interstices of History Jones, Donna V.
190/10 Research Seminar: Suspicious Mind Best, Stephen M.
190/11 Research Seminar: Nonsense Hanson, Kristin
190/12 Research Seminar: Making Memories Yoon, Irene
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: Beowulf 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

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