The Literature of Forgiveness
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Course Number: NLIT 3807
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
Since the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in 1996, the question of forgiveness has become central to human rights discourse. In this course, we consider global political catastrophes and their consequences through a study of 20th-century novels and memoirs. We examine the Holocaust, South African apartheid, the Chilean military junta of General Pinochet, and the Rwanda genocide. We study not only forgiveness, but related notions such as retributive and restorative justice, individual and collective responsibility, the virtues of vengeance, healing, memory, grief, compassion, shame, and silence. This course includes African, European, and American literature: Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace, Philip Gourevitch's We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, Simon Wiesenthal's The Sunflower, and Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden. We also view Eytan Fox's 2004 film, Walk on Water. We read theoretical texts by Nietzsche, Primo Levi, Jean Amery, Desmond Tutu, Hannah Arendt, Julia Kristeva, and Wole Soyinka.