HLI 421 Power and Politics, Kinship and Kings I: Ancient to Renaissance

From the ancient times to the present, literature has engaged political issues. This course traces the intrigues of civil and familial power as captured in significant literary works which offer profound statements, creatively wrought, about vital moral, social and political principles concentrating on works up to the Renaissance. Questions such as whether civilizations can expect their leaders to be ethical in addition to powerful or what happens to society when leaders confront evolving social conditions such as wars, civil unrest or new legal systems or what interplay there may be among the leader (often a man), his family, and the led will be examined in a variety of genres, such as tragedy and epic, and can be explored by invoking the moral imagination. By considering these questions through the vehicle of fiction, literature elicits not only the audience or readers’ intellect, but their emotions as well – in both cases, by means of reader-response. One pressing question we will tackle is whether fiction that engages issues of power and politics does – or can function to – change the world.




Humanities and Social Sciences Program