“Constellations” is an attempt at putting key literary works in conversation with significant texts from other disciplines and discourses --- philosophy, politics, history, law, and the social sciences. The conversations initiated between these texts might converge on conceptual or historical issues; on other occasions, they may conflict on matters of aesthetic form or cultural belief. What gives these ‘coupled” conversations a thematic or curricular coherence is their sustained interest in the life-worlds of minorities as they struggle to gain the recognition and protection of human rights. One of the key questions running through the course will be what it means to make a claim to human dignity from a position of inequality and injustice.
I have chosen landmark texts that describe a wide arc of historical experience from colonization and segregation to migration and the predicament of refugees. These conditions of life and literature will be framed by questions of national sovereignty and international cosmopolitanism. Discourses of race, gender and identity will intersect with conceptual issues of cultural representation and literary form. The conversations initiated by this course will be polyphonic and plural.