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HIST 291H: Putting Literature and History in Dialogue

M 2:30-5:00pm, Graham Memorial 213, Prof. Don Reid (

In this course, we will discuss (a) novels by Assia Djebar, Boualem Sansal, and Yasmina Khadra that deal in very different ways with the history of Algeria during and after its time as part of France; and (b) novels by Tariq Ali, Arthur Koestler, and Victor Serge that explore the unrequited love and terror Soviet communism inspired. There are no prerequisites for this course. None of the authors we’ll read set out to write books that would achieve the status of required reading in a college course. They wanted readers from all walks of life open to being engaged and enthralled and who are willing to think about what had never occurred to them before. If that could be you, take that walk on the wild side to this class.
I will present to the class the particular historical context in which each novel is situated. Students will not read any “history books,” although we will read the novels as history books of a radically different sort. Our goal is to examine how the imagined worlds authors create in these novels pose and respond to important questions about lived experience in the past, and how in turn these experiences and unrealized alternatives to them haunt historical actors. These are questions which historians do not ask or have trouble answering using the tools of analysis of their own discipline. *Taught in English. Can count for FREN minor/major through TarHeelTracker adjustment. Please contact the Undergraduate Advisor in French

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