How do we atone for our sins? How do we atone for the sins of others?
The OED defines “atonement” as “the action of making amends for a wrong or injury.” While its definition suggests the possibility of retribution and relief, literature implies otherwise. In Ian McEwan’s Atonement, 12-year old Briony commits an unspeakable crime, and tries to relieve her own guilt through the manipulation of fact and fiction. In The Reader Bernhard Schlink portrays the psychological state post-war Germany as it works through the horrors of its recent past. The inevitable layers of gender and social hypocrisy in a rigidly structured moral system are exposed in Hawthorne’s Scarlett Letter. In these works, atonement is a brutal process, one that has the potential to make the crimes even more horrific.
This course is designed to provide you with the tools to embark on your career as critical readers and writers in academia. The final grade bases itself upon class participation, two paragraph close readings, and a final paper.