Dostoevsky's Bros. Karamazov
For Fyodor Dostoevsky, real ideas were things felt and not simply thought. This could explain why one might think that a novel like The Brothers Karamazov -- his last and arguably greatest work -- has a philosophical, theological, or ideological value that would lend passion to what one already happens to believe. This course will attempt a close reading of the novel that appreciates but ultimately exceeds its status as a source for social psychology, for theories of carnival and dialogue, Christian dogma, anti-theodicy, ethics, and political philosophy. After their initial encounter with what is, before anything else, a thrilling murder mystery, students will examine the novel's contexts in a few of Dostoevsky's shorter works and in his notebooks, alongside secondary readings by Mikhail Bakhtin, Lev Shestov, Robert Belknap, Joseph Frank, Michael Holquist, Harriet Murav, Caryl Emerson, James Rice, Rene Girard, Emmanuel Levinas, and Gary Saul Morson.