What is a hero, and how do we recognize or define the ‘heroic’? The idea of the hero enjoys a powerful grip on human imagination, fueling both the aspirations of the individual and the ideals of society. Our fascination with charismatic figures and with exemplary lives has found expression in many forms: the hero has been the subject of epics and of novels, of drama and of film, while the nature of the heroic itself has ignited intense philosophical and religious debate, provoking social strife and even violent political confrontation. Furthermore, wherever we encounter the hero we also find lurking not too far away the anti-hero, a dark companion of both destructive and creative potential who erupts from the shadows to challenge or overthrow the heroic model and the values it embodies.
From Medea, Socrates and Chuang Tzu to Hamlet and Galileo, and from The Odyssey, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Bell Jar to Machiavelli’s Prince and Nietzsche’s Ascetic Priest, we will explore the many trails that have been blazed by both the hero and the anti-hero, though their tracks may at times be hard to distinguish and their triumphs perplexing to judge. The transformations of these figures and the ceaseless reconsideration of their roles will provide us with a critical pathway through centuries of human endeavor and across literatures of rich diversity–a pathway always leading back to the heroes and anti-heroes who have shaped our own lives, vivid prophecies of who we might become.
Tap here for pdf of Term One (Sept – Dec): Arts One 2015W Course Schedule Term 1
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- Tap here for pdf of textbook list, including ISBNs and Editions: Hero, Anti-Hero Book list 2015-2016