Course Instructor Days Times Room


What is the purpose of fiction? It’s not purely to entertain, though that is a lovely side effect, and it is certainly not to make money or become famous—those lucky enough to have this happen are few and far between. No, fiction, like all art, is made to help us better understand ourselves, to shed some light on the all important human condition. As David Foster Wallace said “[fiction] is about what it is to be a Human Being.”

Science had proven that literature makes us more empathetic, helps us connection better with others and to become all around better people. Fiction gives us a vision of a more just and humane world, or conversely, the world as a horror story, a vision of the worst of human nature. It allows us to see beyond ourselves, to understand the consequences of our actions. It might sound a bit over the top, but fiction is essential to the survival and advancement of the human race.

One of the wonders of fiction is that something made up, often with no connection to our lives or even reality, can reveal great truths about ourselves. A novel does not have to be about college student in a large state university in a small Georgia town to be relatable. And while we are on the topic, relatability is overrated. We can only truly grow if we look beyond our narrow experiences, if we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. So let’s do that. This semester we will read beautiful, wonderfully written works of fiction that deal with situations we cannot possibly relate to, but will nonetheless make us more expansive, empathetic people.

Fiction does not have the answers to a better world, but it does allow us to understand why we have the world we do.


Possible texts (Not all of these, I’m just having trouble picking at the moment):

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Station 11 by Emily St. John Mendel

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Heart Goes Last by Margret Atwood

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer


Possible Movies:

Arrival (2016)

Ex Machina (2015)

The Lobster (2015)

Monsters (2014)