LC English Lab

Seven Deadly Sins: Archetypes & Argument

     In May of 2016, students at a local university staged a sit in.  They were in a Western Civilization class (the class that teaches how we, as Westerners, developed intellectually).  They refused to read the literature written by “dead white dudes” (Seattle Times: May 17, 2016)  because, as part of their argument, they deserve “to be represented {and} deserve to hear a narrative that’s not just white.” (Times)

    The argument reflects an age old battle about what should be taught as representative of Western Culture?  For our purposes, we will  look at one classic, Dante’s Inferno (click to see a visual), as a representation of why Classics should be taught.  The words are tough, the allusions are out of your depth, and the story, itself, might have come from Game of Thrones: too many characters, too many plots, too many kings, too many monsters.

   As an alternative, we may encounter Animal Farm, a contemporary allegory that tells a cryptic tale of men as animals, and shows how sometimes, like with Dante, people go on an individual quest while at other times we are led onto one by people who seem to care a little too much about our destiny than we do.  

     In either case, we should keep our eyes open and measure what we see.   But the message is timeless, and it asks our biggest question: “Where are you going?”  In this unit, we will look at the classic literary concept of sin; you will examine Dante’s story, make it new, and, in the end, see the timeless nature of literature, and why Classics still have the ability to teach us about life.