What happens when nothing is happening? Is inactivity the mark of sinful sloth, the mind¿s freedom to reflect in tranquility, or an act of political resistance? In this course, we will survey the long history of idleness as represented in literary texts, philosophical writing, and other cultural documents like Reconstruction-era vagrancy laws and op-eds about automation and the future of work. We will be interested in the many things that not working has been made to mean, especially as the bearer of human identity and privileges of class, race, and/or gender. Who gets to draw the line between leisure and laziness, and why? We will pursue these questions by reading authors such as Homer, Hesiod, Horace, Augustine, Petrarch, Langland, Marvell, Eliot, Melville, Dickinson, Wilde, Weber, Woolf, McKay, Adorno, Foucault, and Kincaid.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: four five-page papers, one in-class presentation, thoughtful participation in class discussions
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Enrollment Preference: first-year students who have not taken or placed out of a 100-level ENGL course
Department Notes: WI: Students will submit a total of at least 20 pages of formal writing across four essays
Distributions: Division I; Writing-Intensive;