Spring 2021


Listed in: European Studies, as EUST-237

Formerly listed as: EUST-47  |  SPAN-91


Ilan Stavans (Section 01)


This course rotates around the shifting notion of the divine in Western Civilization, focusing on theology, philosophy, literature, and music. Students explore the development of the three major prophetic religions as well as some of the mystical movements they fostered. Discussions rotate around the King James Bible, Augustine’s Confessions, the Koran, Maimonides’ The Guide for the Perplexed, the Zohar, the Popol Vuh, the Ramayana, and Spinoza’s work as a cornerstone to the Enlightenment. We will contemplate secularism in modern culture and analyze the contemporary atheist movement of Dawkins and Hitchens . Music explorations range from Johann Sebastian Bach to John Cage; in science, from Isaac Newton to Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking; and in film, from Ingmar Bergman to Woody Allen. Readings include parts of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Freud’s Moses and Monotheism, Kafka’s The Castle, Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, Borges’ “The Secret Miracle” and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Stavans. 

If Overenrolled: Priority will be given to seniors and European Studies majors. Others admitted to balance by class year to foster a diverse class.


Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2013, Spring 2021