St/CompLit (Literature, Hospitality, and Hotels)

Hospitality, the act of welcoming and caring for
guests, has been a recurring theme in imaginative literature from the earliest
known examples of literary writing to the most recent novels and films, and at
least for several centuries hotels have served as settings for a wide range of
narrative fictions. This Studies class examines the intertwined themes of
hospitality and the hotel in a selection of 20th- and 21st-century texts from a
variety of cultural and historical contexts, including Africa, the Caribbean,
Europe, Hawai‘i, and the United States. The class will emphasize the ethical implications
of these themes, asking questions like: Why do we value hospitality as much as
we do? Is hospitality the foundation of all moral behavior? What are the
qualities of a good host? Should hospitality be unconditional—that is, should
we extend hospitality to everyone, no matter who they are? How does the history
of colonialism affect the ways some people think about hospitality? What are
the connections between hospitality and immigration policy in the U.S. and
other countries? What are the social, economic, and environmental impacts of
the hospitality industry? Is the hotel an emblem of our globalized,
transnational world?

In order to establish a common frame of reference
and a historical foundation for our discussions of ethics and literature, we
will devote the first few weeks of the semester to an overview of some of the
central texts in the European philosophical tradition to which contemporary
treatments of ethics in literature frequently refer. These materials include
excerpts from Aristotle, Mill, Kant, Levinas, and Derrida. Brief selections
from Genesis, Homer’s The Odyssey,
Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Gospel of
Luke, and short stories by Paul Bowles, Albert Camus, and Eudora Welty will
serve as departure points for discussions of how these philosophical treatments
of ethical questions intersect with mythic traditions and literary texts
dealing with the treatment of guests. We will spend the remainder of the
semester on “case studies” which examine longer works of fiction, drama, and

This course has a UHM Contemporary Ethical
Issues (E) Focus designation

Contemporary ethical issues are fully integrated
into the main course material and will constitute at least 30% of the course
content. At least 8 hours of class time will be spent discussing ethical
issues. Through the use of lectures, discussions and assignments, you will
develop basic competency in recognizing and analyzing ethical issues,
deliberating responsibly on ethical issues, and making ethically determined
judgments. Many of your writing exercises will ask you address the ethical
implications of hospitality as they are reflected in the assigned materials.

The course also has the UHM Written
Communication (W) Focus designation

The class uses writing to promote the learning of
course materials. You will get feedback and support from the instructor and
your classmates while you do the assigned writing. Your writing for this class
will be substantial—a minimum of 4,000 words, or about 16 pages. Written
assignments make up to 60% of your final course grade.

grade will be based on your performance in the following assignments:

• in-class roundtable contribution (5 minute
provocative statement, followed by a structured discussion, based on one of the
assigned readings)

• analysis of a primary text drawing on at least three
of the assigned readings in   philosophy
and criticism (5 pages)

• abstract for a term paper (1 page)

• term paper based on independent research (15-20

• a take-home midterm examination

• a take-home final examination

Required Texts (available at
Revolution Books, 2626 South King St # 201, 944-3106)

Apio, Alani. Kāmau and Kāmau Aʻe

Forster, E. M. A Room with a View.

Jamaica. A Small Place

Mann, Thomas. Death in Venice

Paul. An Ordinary Man

Theroux, Paul. Hotel Honolulu

Films (films will be placed on
reserve in Sinclair Library’s Wong Audiovisual Center)

Iñárritu, Alejandro González (dir.). Biutiful

Frears, Stephen (dir.). Dirty Pretty Things

George, Terry (dir.). Hotel Rwanda

McCarthy, Thomas (dir.). The Visitor