How to Lead a Good Life: Ancient and Modern Answers
From antiquity to the present, writers and artists have addressed the question of how to lead a good life, as well as addressing those obstacles—fate, the gods, our own divided psyches--that have made it difficult for us to do so. They have also presented conflicting notions of what the good life is, and what its relationship is to happiness and happenstance. In this course, we will explore a range of ancient and modern takes on these questions. We will read texts by Homer, Plato, Sophocles, Saint Augustine, Dante, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Virginia Woolf, and Kazuo Ishiguro. We will also spend some time talking about how to become better writers: how to develop a writing style that combines creativity, originality, and analytical power.