Religion and Literature: From the Bible to James Baldwin
The Hungarian critic Georg Lukács said that the novel is the “epic of a world that has been abandoned by God.” That suggests a stark divide between the novels we enjoy and the religions that continue to inform our world. And yet so many of the novels, poems, and plays we read address the same themes as religions do. In this class, we compare some classic religious texts, such as the Bible, the Midrash, and the writings of Augustine, with some famous writers of past and present—Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, George Eliot (that is, Mary Anne Evans), James Baldwin, and Mary Gordon, among others—on their answers to some perennial questions: What is the nature of love? What is the origin of evil? Why do we suffer? Is death the end? Does forgiveness redeem? And we will ask: Can literature take the place of religion?
You'll Walk Away with
- A heightened understanding of themes from across a range of religious and literary texts
- Greater familiarity with the ways in which literary art and religious sensibility both partner with and protest against each other