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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions


ENGL 3930 Literature and Human Rights

Course description

This course examines literature’s relationship to human rights, the world’s dominant language for approaching social justice. Yet, while human rights are ostensibly universal, they also function to exclude categories of peoples, often defining the non-Western world as less than fully human. In turn, our readings will emphasize the troubled status of human rights in the postcolonial world. But how, then, do we avoid talking about rights as neo-imperialist gifts from “the West” to “the Rest”? What are the liabilities of humanitarianism? And while storytelling is indispensable to an individual’s recovery from rights violations, what risks and limits accompany giving narrative form to egregious suffering? Texts will consist of a range of genres including film. Likely writers: Coetzee, Farah, Dorfman, El Saadawi, Ondaatje, Dangarembga, Kincaid, Danticat.


The next offering of this course is undetermined at this time. Find similar upcoming programs by tag: history, law/policy, literature, politics

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