Vices and Virtues

In literature, in politics, in life generally, we root for the “good guys” and despise the “bad guys.” But how do we distinguish one from the other? Usually, by identifying those who share our notions of good and evil and act in ways we think are virtuous, not vicious. This course explores the foundations of vice and virtue. We will pay particular attention to texts where ideas of virtue or vice are in conflict, whether in myth and fairy tale, political documents or essays, or in fiction by authors including Faulkner, Arthur C. Clarke, LeGuin, Camus and Shakespeare. Students will analyze these and other texts, using a variety of compositional modes, as part of the attempt to clarify their understanding of these issues.