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Signature Courses

Past Today: Why Conflicts Endure

SC Past Today

Past Today: Why Conflicts Endure
01:195:270 (3 credits)
Core: 21C, AHo, AHp
Professor Richard Serrano, French, Comparative Literature

The great American novelist William Faulkner famously said, "The past is not dead.  It's not even past."  Why do some conflicts endure despite the enormous political, technological, cultural and economic changes of the past several decades? 

What can we learn about 21st-century struggles through examining the representation of conflict in comparative literature and arts? How can we understand the ways in which the past remains “undead” through its continuing animation of today's clashes while complicating all attempts to resolve them?  How can literature, film, and other visual arts, as well as architecture, and music, be used to understand how the past shapes political and cultural strife today?  Focusing on three current conflicts from disparate cultures, this course explores how conflicts are constructed and searches for the means to look through and beyond them, to overcome them, and to loosen the past’s hold on the present and future. 

This course is particularly recommended for students who intend to pursue majors in African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian languages; American Studies; anthropology, art history, Asian languages and cultures; Asian Studies; comparative literature; English; history; Latin American studies; Middle Eastern studies; political science; sociology; and South Asian studies.  This course carries credit toward the major and minor in comparative literature.  Past Today can be used to meet the SAS Core Curriculum goals in 21st Century Challenges [21C] and Arts and Humanities [AHo and AHp].

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