Doomed to Repeat?: History, Literature, Life

How do history, literature, and art interact with ‘real life’? We have sayings (“Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it’, ‘life imitates art’) that suggest answers to such questions. These sayings are adapted from quotations (George Santayana and Oscar Wilde) but have become proverbs, passed around and cited as obvious bits of wisdom. But are these sayings correct? Does knowing history help us change for the better?  Does life imitate art more than art imitates life? In this course, as a group we will select a set of case studies through which to dig into these concepts. For example, we might choose to examine how Hamilton draws upon history, but has also influenced contemporary views of its subjects; its popularity is credited with keeping Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill. We might decide to investigate whether/how/how much early science fiction helped create interest in a mission to the moon, and a belief that it was possible. We might choose to read Shakespeare’s Richard III and research whether/how/how much the historical king resembles the dramatic creation. We might look whether fads and fashion come more from what we watch, or what we see our friends do. Because students will participate actively in selecting specific examples through which we will investigate these concepts, they should begin brainstorming ideas for case studies before the semester begins.

Course Information
  • Course Id:HDCC 106 0401
  • Room:PFR 0111
  • Days:Tuesday Thursday
  • Timings:11:00 - 12:15pm

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