A Place of Transformation:
The Desert in Literature

HON 410

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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