Denmark, Aarhus

Evolution, Literature and Film

when 4 July 2011 - 29 July 2011
duration 4 weeks
credits 9.9 EC

This course introduces students to the history and theory of evolutionary thinking in the humanities. The evolutionary human sciences are entering a mature phase, but have until recently operated on an inadequate understanding of "culture," and especially "imaginative culture": religion, ideology, myth, the arts, and intellectual life. That weakness is now being corrected by evolutionary thinking emerging from the humanities, as evolutionary approaches to literature and film are growing in importance and visibility.
The course is taught by the world's leading evolutionary literary scholar, Professor Joseph Carroll from University of Missouri-St. Louis. Course offered by Department of Language, Culture and Literature, AU.

Course leader

Professor Joseph Carroll (from University of Missouri-St.Louis) and Mathias Clasen

Target group

We'll be reading about 700 pages in English over the course of three weeks, so students should have a strong command of the English language and be committed to conscientious work during the course. No previous knowledge of evolutionary theory is required. Anyone with a good general education should be equipped to perform well in the course. No specific expertise in English or American literature is required. Students will be expected to have some interest in literature or film from one or more languages and to bring their special interests to bear on discussion in class. The course will culminate in writing a substantial essay, so students should already have a good command of the principles of essayistic composition: the formulation and orderly development of a theoretical and/or critical argument.

Course aim

In the evaluation of the student's performance, special emphasis is placed on the extent to which the student:

produces a theoretically considered analysis of specific problems,
considers the uniqueness of the theory applied from a science theory or science history perspective,
adopts a critical approach to the theory applied
Successful effort in the course will enable a student to write an essay that displays a good grasp of basic evolutionary theory and an understanding of how that theory applies to human behavior, feeling, and thought. The essay should integrate high-level causal principles of evolutionary biology, concepts of human nature deriving from the evolutionary human sciences, and a sophisticated understanding of how meaning and effect are produced in specific works of literature and/or film. The kind of thinking that informs the essay should not be limited to one specific instance of literature or film but should be generalizable as principles broadly applicable across the humanities.

Fee info

EUR 0: See website for information regarding fees