What can literature teach us about navigating social change?
History is made up of turning points, moments where everything that at one time seemed fixed and immutable is suddenly revealed to be fragile, even impossible. Change can bring liberation, but it can also bring destruction, while tradition can either be the skeleton that upholds us or the ossified muscle that paralyzes us. Human beings, both as individuals and as members of society, must continually relearn how to cope with change and balance tradition with innovation. Through two classic literary texts—one American, one Italian—these sessions will discuss the dramatic, often violent 19th-century social and economic changes that helped shaped our world today. Students will explore how, even when the majority declares progress to be unequivocally good, there is deep wisdom to be found by looking to the past, and profound lessons about justice, virtue, and love to be learned from a world we cannot return to, but which still shapes us today.
All student attendees will receive copies of The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams and The Leopard by Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, a reading list, and will receive travel stipends. All who fully participate in the weekend seminar will also receive a $100 honorarium.