HC 221H: In Search of Belonging: The Consolations of Community in Contemporary Literature and Cinema

Professor: Dawn Marlan

4.00 credits

• CRN 13079: Tuesday & Thursday, 1615-1745 @ This course will be held remotely

This is a course focused on the paradox of community, namely that the very safety and protection it offers (by virtue of strength in numbers, for example) poses a danger to the individual, whose freedom it curtails and whose interests are never perfectly aligned with those of the group. Born of exclusions and maintained by strict adherence to its rules, community promises a coziness that belies its potentially coercive dimensions. In this course, we will ask what happens to community when “connection” seems more accessible than ever, but when its very availability may be responsible for increased loneliness. In works of global contemporary fiction and cinema, and with the help of social theorists and philosophers, we will examine utopian and dystopian dimensions of the personal and social bonds that ground communities. From the most modest and mainstream attempts at forging connections to the wildest visions of alternatives, we will explore various answers to the question of whether “belonging” is still imaginable.