INAF-458 Fiction, Faith and Violence
Spring for 2017-2018
In this course, we'll read ten standout works of contemporary fiction and consider the ways religion and violence figure into the books and the ways they are seen as interacting by characters, author, and readers. Since September 11, 2001, many commentators have suggested that there’s a clear link between religion and violence, arguing that religion breeds violence or that religion’s attempt to quell violence is a cure worse than the disease. Don DeLillo, in Mao II, joined the novelist, the terrorist, and the religious believer as figures who “make raids on human consciousness.” In contemporary fiction, religious belief and forces of violence are seen as interacting in complex, paradoxical, mysterious ways – ways that transcend the conventional wisdom, complement political science and area studies, and point toward authentic wisdom.
We’ll consider violence as a plot device (as in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and religious faith as a motivation (as in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible); and we’ll consider the question of whether a book can be an agent of violence by other means, as in the cases of The Satanic Verses, My Name Is Red, and Submission -- novels considered offensive by believers, who then struck out against the books and the authors through violence or the threat of violence.
Other academic years
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