Intro to Lit: Genre

ENG 272 Introduction to Literature: Literature, Film, and The Meaning of Life

Course Description

This course investigates a deep philosophical question that is often expressed in literature and film: what is the meaning of the life?  This is the primary question we will ask throughout the course of the semester.  The class will begin with a familiar text, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where the famous line “To be or not to be, that is the question” is posed.  From there we will move to a discussion of what it means to be human by turning to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein before we shift to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, and Lorraine Hansberry’s parallel drama What Use Are Flowers? At this point we will move to Albert Camus’s The Plague. From here we will make a genre and thematic change by giving our attention to Primo Levi’s memoir detailing his experience in Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp. We close the semester with August Wilson’s Fencesto explore, to put it in the words of the master poet Langston Hughes, “What happens to a dream deferred?”


Required Texts

Becket, Samuel. Waiting for Godot

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein

Camus, Albert. The Plague, The Fall, Exile, and the Kingdom and Selected Essays

Wilson, August. Fences

Levi, Primo. The Drowned and the Saved