Summer 2023 Courses

Summer 2023 Courses


COM 003  — Major Works of the Modern World (Summer Session I)

COM 004 — Major Works of the Contemporary World (Summer Session II)

COM 010 L — The Absurd Man in Literature (Summer Session II)

"Absurd is that which is devoid of purpose…. Cut off from his religious, metaphysical, and transcendental roots, man is lost; all his actions become senseless, absurd, useless”

 --Eugene Ionesco (1909 - 1994), Romanian-French playwright.

Who is “The Absurd Man”? The phrase denotes characters who lack faith in a higher order, who live their lives outside of any meaning conferred by traditional religion or philosophy. We think of Camus’ Sisyphus, of Joseph in Kafka’s The Trial, of Beckett’s hapless characters waiting for a Godot who never comes. Absurdism, as a literary conception, emerged in mid-20th-century European intellectual circles. However, the essence of Absurdist fiction need not be circumscribed by such a narrow frame. In this course, we will read a selection of prose and dramatic works by authors "officially" recognized as Absurdists (for instance, Kafka, Kharms, Beckett, Camus) and explore works sharing similar features without belonging to the established canon of Absurdist literature. The goal of the class is to gain insight into what constitutes Absurdism as an aesthetic phenomenon and to trace the emergence of the “Absurd Man" as a character across various literary traditions.