Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Jan Sjavik
C LIT 496
Seattle Campus

Special Studies in Comparative Literature

Offered occasionally by visitors or resident faculty. Content varies.

Class description

What follows is a general description of the course:

This course has a two-fold purpose. Firstly, it will offer an introduction to Søren Kierkegaard’s thought through reading and discussion of some on his core texts. Secondly, it will elucidate central European literary texts from the so-called decadent period. Hence, the first half of the course will focus on selections from The Concept of Irony, Either/Or, parts I and II, Fear and Trembling, The Sickness unto Death, Stages on Life’s Way, and Concluding Unscientific Postscript (selections). In addition to providing an introduction to Kierkegaard’s thought, these readings will help us theorize decadence as a literary phenomenon in European and Scandinavian literature during the period of approximately 1880-1914.

The second half of the course will consider representative texts of the decadent period from the perspective of a Kierkegaardian conception of decadence. The literary works read will include Joris-Karl Huysmans, Against the Grain (1884), Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), Arne Garborg, Weary Men (1891), Hjalmar Söderberg, Doctor Glas (1905), and Thomas Mann, Death in Venice (1912). Some attention will also be given to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni (with libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte) as in important intertext in some of Kierkegaard’s works. We may also consider Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt (1867) as a representation of Kierkegaardian aestheticism.

There will be midterm and final examinations (both of them essay exams) as well as a ten page paper.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Jan Sjavik
Date: 02/02/2005