EOAs part of the Core Curriculum's Ethics / Religion and Society Requirement, Literature and the Moral Imagination is required for all undergraduate students. In broad terms, ENGL 205: Literature and the Moral Imagination focuses on personal and social ethical issues in literature. Individual sections feature specific topics.

Literature and the Moral Imagination: Spring 2020

ENGL 205 Focus on: Familial Obligations
ENGL 205  Focus on: Erotic Love
ENGL 205 Focus on: I Need A Hero
ENGL 205 Focus on: Drama and the Moral Imagination
ENGL 205 Focus on: Secret Identities
ENGL 205 Focus on: Journey to Hell and Back
ENGL 205 Focus on: Passing and Performing Identity
ENGL 205 Focus on: Threatened, Endangered, Exinct
ENGL 205- Focus on: Re-Imagination
ENGL 205 Focus on: Life Changing Journeys
ENGL 205 Focus on: Stranger Than Fiction
ENGL 205 Focus on: Alternate America
ENGL 205 Focus on: From Uncle Tom To Gingerbread: They Staying Put, Running Away
ENGL 205 Focus on: Family

ENGL 205 Focus on: Stranger than Fiction
Section 30 MW 6:00-7:15 ROZZI
Section 32 MW 4:30-5:45 ROZZI
CRN 15760 and 15939

We will read literature in which real world events shape the stories authors tell. Along with learning the various ways authors draw from their lives, we will focus on why they modify, transform, and reinvent some elements when creating fictional worlds and in the retelling of factual events. We will also explore the moral and ethical dilemmas the authors were trying to convey with those choices through critical thinking, discussion, and literary analysis. In doing so, we will strive to discover how these ideas can inform the decisions we make in our own lives.

ENGL 205 Focus on: Threatened, Endangered, Extinct
Section 08 MWF 12:00-12:50 OTTUM
Section 10 MWF 2:00-2:50 OTTUM
CRN 11011 and 11013

Got a favorite dinosaur?  How about a favorite endangered animal?  Most of us are introduced to extinction at a pretty young age—long before we’re able to grasp its complexities.  To be fair, the big picture is mind-blowing: Earth has sustained five mass extinctions in its 4.6-billion-year history.  This is heavy stuff.  

So, too, is the fact that we are currently in the midst of a sixth mass extinction.  With species disappearing at an estimated 100 times the normal background rate, many experts worry that we’re in danger of entire ecosystems collapsing.  (It’s not just polar bears and other mammals: we’re talking plants, sea creatures, insects, and even microorganisms). 

While the global loss of biodiversity might seem like a scientific issue, the matter of how we classify threatened species is deeply cultural.  So, too, are the choices we make about habitat preservation and other responses to environmental change.  In this section of ENGL 205, we’ll explore the cultural politics of extinction and the discourses surrounding it.  Some of the questions we’ll explore include: 

  • how do media shape our sense of which species are “worth” preserving? Of which potential losses are most “urgent”?  Most “tragic”?
  • can art “speak for” nonhuman animals? Should it?
  • is our job to “manage” species whose habitats or food webs we’ve destroyed?
  • who should decide which threatened species we prioritize? Should ecological factors be the only consideration in our deliberations?
  • how has extinction shaped our thinking about humans as a species?

Readings for this course will include creative works, popular nonfiction, and academic texts: expect to read a lot.  No background knowledge about the course topic is necessary—only open-mindedness, and a willingness to tackle some challenging ideas.

ENGL 205 Focus on: Drama and the Moral Imagination

We will study provocative plays and dramatic movements, ranging from the ancient to the contemporary. I have selected diverse readings with an emphasis upon plays that pose challenging moral or ethical dilemmas. This section fulfills the core requirement for Literature & the Moral Imagination.

Section 06 MWF 12:00-12:50 HERREN

Section 31 MWF 11:00-11:50 HERREN
CRN 11009 and 15761

ENGL 205 Focus on: Alternate Historical Fiction
Section 20 TR 2:30-3:45 STECKL
CRN 13052
This course uses alternate historical fiction--text and television in which one slight alteration in a historical event leads to a drastically different United States--to explore real and imagined American culture. Examining social power structures, interactions among minority and majority populations, and the implications of acting on self-interest, students will reflect, discuss, debate, collaborate, and critically analyze topics such as race relations, religious plurality, and immigration. 

ENGL 205 Focus on: Secret Identities

What is identity? Can a person have more than one identity, and, if so, is one of those identities more authentic than the others? How do people construct identities? When and how and why do we hide certain identities and adopt others instead? What are the potential consequences of such masking? What are the potential consequences of unmasking?
In this section of ENGL 205, we will explore these and similar questions, using popular U.S. literature from the past 100 years. By analyzing identity in these works, this course aims to provide greater insight into the construction and presentation of identities in society. It does so in the hope that, by recognizing and appreciating the diversity of identities surrounding us, we can better understand the people we encounter, better hear their stories, and better share our own.

Section 09 MWF 2:00-2:50 LAM
CRN 11012

ENGL 205 Focus on: Journey to Hell and Back
Section 01 MWF 8:00-8:50 LYON
Section 03 MWF 10:00-10:50 LYON 
CRN 14458 and 11006
We travel to the depths of Hell to assess our own moral compasses, to understand how we impose our moral compass on others, and to begin to forgive and find strength in ourselves along life's messy journey.

ENGL 205 Focus on: Familial Obligations

In addition to improving reading comprehension, writing and oral presentation skills. Students will 1) describe and examine the multifaceted character of society and how the inclusion of different perspectives can influence on one’s world view, 2) examine the diverse, complex, and interdependent nature of people while focusing on perspectives on familial obligations. Section 12 TR 8:30-9:45 CLINE-BAILEY
Section 14 TR 10:00-11:15 CLINE-BAILEY
Section 17 TR 1:00-2:15 CLINE-BAILEY
CRN 14460, 11017, and 11020

ENGL 205 Focus on: Erotic Love

Literature and the Moral Imagination is part of the Ethics/Religion and Society focus within Xavier’s Core Curriculum. It is intended as a course in which significant works of literature are studied as representa­tions or examinations of ethical and religious issues, in order to demon­strate how literature can further our understanding of these dimensions of human life. In literature (as in the other arts), what may be called the “moral imagination” raises questions about ethics, religion and society; it rarely, if ever, provides definitive answers, leaving readers with the responsibility to interpret these matters on their own.  This course, therefore, is as much about literary interpretation as it is about ethics or religion.  Thus, it complements (and complicates) the con­cerns of the philosophy and theology courses that are also required in the E/RS focus.
Section 24H MWF 9:00-9:50 FINKELSTEIN
Section 27 MWF 1:00-1:50 FINKELSTEIN
CRN 14082 and 11015

ENGL 205 Focus on: From Uncle Tom to Gingerbread: Staying Put, Running Away

This course traces the trajectory of African American subjects from sedentary servitude (e.g., Uncle Tom's Cabin ) to nomadic independence (Gingerbread).
Section 15 TR 10:00-11:15 WILLIAMS
CRN 11018

ENGL 205-18 and 21: A Focus on: Mental Illness
Section 18 TR 1:00-2:15 PRUES

Section 21 4:00-5:15 PRUES
CRN 11021 and 13329

This course explores how some aspects of mental illness – from Unipolar and Bipolar Disorder to Major Depressive Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder to Schizophrenia and PTSD -- manifest themselves in literature and film. Ultimately, this course will challenge, clarify, and destigmatize presumptions about mental illness, including how such afflictions affect family and friends as well.


ENGL 205 Focus on: I Need and Hero
Section 05 MWF 11:00-11:50 HAMILTON
CRN 11008
If everyone is 'the hero' of his or her own story, despite having very different approaches to life, then why in literature are readers often able to easily identify the hero of the story? Alternatively, what does it suggest to readers about literature (and about life) when a text presents no clear hero, or that role in a text is disputed? Examining changes in literary portrayals of heroism over time also raises questions about how our own lived 'heroics' may be viewed by future generations. By studying texts from Classical to contemporary, we will refine our understanding of and engagement with the societal role of hero, in both private and public spheres.
ENGL 205 Focus on: Passing and Performing Identity
Section 25 Online MCFARLANE HARRIS
Section 26 Online MCFARLANE HARRIS 

CRN 13054 and 11004
In this course, we will read fiction and graphic novels that investigate the phenomenon of racial passing in the United States, whereby “black” persons light-skinned enough to appear “white” cross the color line to live as white people. Along the way, we will read a smattering of historical sources and cultural theory on the social construction of race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic class, religion, etc.

ENGL 205 Focus on: Re-Imagination

Literature and the Moral Re-imagination” will examine a variety of classic “texts” from a variety of genres (fiction, drama, poetry, performance) and derivative texts (as opposed to sequels or re-makes). Arranged as pairs, we will look at the important ethical, philosophical and religious themes of the originals with an eye toward comparing the originals with their more modern counterparts. Considered will be the extent to which the themes have changed (if they have) over time and the different ways modern writers choose to explore and comment upon those themes. Central to the course will be the question of universal ethics and morality across time and genre and, as such, the relevance of these “classical” issues to you today.

Section 29 Online REID

CRN 15759

ENGL 205:Focus on: Life Changing Journeys

This section of 205 explores topics related to different kinds of journeys: internal and external journeys, time travel, travel as exploration, pilgrimage, quests, travel in outer space, forced journeys, and journeys to freedom. The course material invites discussion of encounters with racial prejudice and bigotry, cultural and gender conflict, humans’ quests for meaning and purpose, and heroism in the face of fear or death. We will read mostly fiction, but the course also includes poetry, short stories, fiction, and film. As  part of the Ethics/Religion and Society (E/RS) focus in the university core curriculum, much of our class material and discussion will provide substantive opportunities to analyze the moral and ethical dimensions of socially significant issues as well as religious/spiritual aspects of the reading.

Section 16 TR 11:30-12:45 RUSSELL

Section 19 TR 1:00-2:15  RUSSELL

CRN 11019 and 11022

ENGL 205 Focus On: Family

This course constitutes the literature component of the Ethics/Religion and Society focus of the Xavier core curriculum. We will read, write about, and discuss a variety of literary texts with an emphasis on thinking critically about their social and ethical implications, understanding them not only in terms of our own perspectives but also in relation to the times and places for which they were produced. In specific, we will focus on representations of marriage, sex, and the family in several genres of writing produced in a variety of historical contexts. Some issues we will discuss include how the concepts of duty to family and specific roles within the family are defined and how these definitions determine the function, or dysfunction, of the family unit as a whole. We will also consider the relation of the family to other social and cultural institutions and beliefs.

Section 02 MWF 9:00-9:50 WYETT

Section 04 MWF 10:00-10:50 WYETT

CRN 11005 and 11007