Literature and the bible

Course Dates: 15/01/20 - 18/03/20
Time: 10:15 - 12:15
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutors:
James Leveque

The Bible has been a major source for literature and art, but we don’t often examine how such influence plays out. From the orthodox to the heretical, from the subtle to the absurd, this course will explore and analyse works that adapt and draw from scripture to surprising effect.

Description

What is the course about?

The Bible has played, and continues to play, a major role in shaping the thought of entire nations in some very surprising ways. Through readings of a selection of passages from the Bible alongside more contemporary works, we will explore the ways that major biblical themes, in both the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, are understood in modern circumstances.

Moreover, we’ll examine the ways in which contemporary forms repurpose – even highjack – the Biblical text. Writers may prefer more-or-less straight adaptations of Biblical stories, whereas others might select specific or obscure characters in the Bible as a starting point for entirely new narratives and ideas. Some works might draw from themes and tropes that are strongly laden with Biblical connotations in order to comment on them from a more modern perspective. In each case, we’ll be asking what kind of relevance the Bible still plays in the thought and style of each of these works.

Tutor biography

'Although he has lived in the United Kingdom for ten years, James Leveque is a native of California. He has taught courses in literature at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, and the University of Dundee. James’s first monograph, entitled Words Like Fire: Prophecy and Apocalypse in Apollinaire, Marinetti, and Pound (Legenda) will be published in late-2019. His research interests lie at the intersections of literature, religion, and social theory – particularly in 20th-century English, American, and French literature. James was a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for the Advanced Study of the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, where he began exploring the literature of the post-war counterculture, spirituality, and nationalism – research that will be continued in September 2019 at the Institute for Modern Languages Research at the University of London.'.

What will we cover?

The course will compare works of literature from the 19th and 20th centuries to select episodes in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Through this comparison, we will explore a number of specific themes relevant to the Bible, such as: origins and genesis, exodus and exile, prophecy, theodicy, salvation, and apocalypse. We will also examine the relationship between literature, history, and theology that these works and the Bible negotiate.

You will need to bring the texts with you to class, as well as a Bible (no particular translation is necessary). You may need to purchase, or borrow from a library, the following novels:
-The Liar’s Gospel by Naomi Alderman (Penguin, 2013)
-The Unlimited Dream Company by J G Ballard (4th Estate, 2014)
-Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston (Harper, 2008)
-The Doorposts of Your House and on Your Gates by Jacob Bacharach (2017)

Other texts/film, which will be provided:
• The King David Report by Stefan Heym
• The Diaries of Adam & Eve by Mark Twain
• ‘The Parable of the Old Man & The Young’ by Wilfred Owen
• ‘Abraham to kill him’ by Emily Dickenson
• Salome by Oscar Wilde
• A Serious Man by Joel and Ethan Coen.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Evaluate and analyse the texts being studied.
• Engage with Biblical literature from a number of different perspectives, including the literary and aesthetic.
• Identify and explain allusions, tropes, and themes in contemporary literature that are drawn from biblical literature.
• Discuss the relationship between history, aesthetics, and theology.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course requires no particular skills, but a basic familiarity with the Bible can be useful. An openness to new, surprising, and even controversial interpretations and adaptions of scripture will also be helpful. You should be willing to listen and engage with the texts and the readings and views of fellow students.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

We will examine selections of novels, poetry, short stories, drama and film alongside well-known episodes from the Bible. Close readings, work in small groups and pairs, and discussions of historical and theological contexts will be part of the course activity. Other than reading the texts before class, there will be no work outside of class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will need to bring the texts with you to class, as well as a Bible (no particular translation is necessary). You may need to purchase, or borrow from a library, the following novels:
-The Liar’s Gospel by Naomi Alderman (Penguin, 2013)
-The Unlimited Dream Company by J G Ballard (4th Estate, 2014)
- Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston (Harper, 2008)
-The Doorposts of Your House and on Your Gates by Jacob Bacharach (Liveright, 2017)

Other texts/film, which will be provided as listed in No. 2.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other poetry classes in the Literature section under History, Culture and Writing at www.citylit.ac.uk.

Reviews
Tutor Biographies
We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.

Book your place

Course Code: HLT163

Wed, day, 15 Jan - 18 Mar '20

Duration: 10 sessions (over 10 weeks)

Full fee: £179.00
Senior fee: £143.00
Concession: £79.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Download form & post

Any questions? humanities@citylit.ac.uk
or call 020 7492 2652

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