HIST 294: Political Fiction

Attitudes towards politics, economics, society, and history will be examined from works of fiction that directly criticize an existing society or that present an alternative, sometimes fantastic, reality.


Required Readings:

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Johann Grimmelshausen, Simplicissimus

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

Voltaire, Candide

Alessandro Manzoni, I promessi sposi (The Betrothed)


1)    Analyzing three short readings (approximately 20 pages each) on Aging and Creativity; Social and Economic Aspects of Aging; and Destructive and Constructive Aspects of Aging.

2)    Arranging and meeting 3 times, for approximately 1 hour each time, with an older person, preferably someone who is not able to get out much alone.  In most cases, the student will locate this person.  In addition, the Middletown Senior Center, on William Street, would be very happy to have students from this class go there to have these conversations.

3)    Writing three 2-page papers in which you consider both what you learned from discussing one of our works of fiction with an older person, and what that person learned.  Incorporate some reflection on one of the three short readings in each of the 2-page papers.  Include the name of the person, the place, and date.


Benefits of doing this Service-Learning Section

Social benefits: Opportunity to discuss class readings with someone of a very different generation, and probably also of a markedly different background.

Academic benefits: Training in how to articulate what you are learning to someone who has probably not studied this subject.  Learning how to transfer your enthusiasm for your subject in an appropriate manner.

Personal benefits: Becoming open to new points of view, and getting the opportunity to mix with people of a very different age without embarrassment.  Training in how to be respectful while, at the same time, not throttling your own views.