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A Place of Transformation:
The Desert in Literature
From the Biblical Judaean and Paran, to the exotic Arabian and Sahara, to the more familiar Sonoran and Mojave, the desert has long been regarded as a place of stark contrasts, crude survival, mystery, and transformation.
In this course, we will discover the desert as a vital character in four distinct pieces of literature: The English Patient, The Alchemist, The Sheltering Sky, and The Wisdom of the Desert. Through these works, the authors use the desert as a metaphor for emotional identity, as a mystical teacher & sacred place of revelation, and as an empty void & symbol of a world which no longer offers any metaphysical answers to existence. We will also utilize The Sacred Desert: Religion, Literature, Art and Culture as a means to make connections across millennia of desert literature, thus deepening our understanding of the desert as a physical terrain, a textual character, and an interior atmosphere.
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