Evil and the Satanic from Prometheus to Camus

R1B (section 2) :  English Composition through French Literature in Translation
Fall 2020
Class No: 21794
remote, synchronous
S. Rogghe



Goethe, Faust  ISBN-10 019953621X

Dostoevsky, The Grand Inquisitor ISBN-10: 0872201937

  • Camus, The Stranger ISBN-10: 0679720200

Course Reader including excerpts from:

Euripides, The Bacchae

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy

Nietzsche, Beyond Good & Evil

Rimbaud, A Season in Hell

Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil

Lautréamont, The Songs of Maldoror

Hannah Arendt, The Banality of Evil

+ Relevant critical essays

Course Description:

“… that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good:” ~Goethe

In this course, we will look at different interpretations of “evil,” from the grotesquely Satanic to the mundanely banal. Starting with Greek Antiquity, we will see how man’s “animal nature,” as embodied by the god Dionysus, later becomes demonized, culminating in the image of Luciferian rebellion we find in the 19th century, and eventually turning into banality as we make our way into the 20th century.

In our encounter with the satanic, we will also consider it as an essential pole in the human struggle: moral dilemma, good versus evil, true knowledge versus blind obedience – these conflicts make up our human condition, and we will see how these contradictions recur in different forms in the texts we read. Alongside literary texts, we will read theoretical essays that help us think about key topics in these texts, expressing points of view we may argue against, agree with, or take as points of departure for our own, personal struggle with the complexity of good and evil.

Because this is a writing course, student writing will be examined and dissected in group discussions and in smaller peer review groups, as a way to provide constructive feedback and learn from each other’s writing. In addition, we will also address methods for doing critical research, including exercises devoted to library resources and bibliographical information.

Additional information: 

French R1B fulfills the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement in the College of Letters and Science. Classes conducted in ENGLISH.