Exploration of Ethics through Literature (Literature Elective; US)

Grades 11–12

This course uses literature to examine complex moral dilemmas which evade simple, “right” answers. Students explore readings by a variety of ancient and modern thinkers to glean a deeper understanding of ethics, a field of philosophy which strives to clarify how people ought to behave. The texts raise questions such as: Who is in my universe of obligation? What is a creator’s responsibility to their creation? Can external structures mitigate an individual’s responsibility for their actions? In this discussion-based seminar, readings draw from classical and contemporary world literature, including mostly novels, but also current articles, short stories, and excerpts from philosophical works. The texts and discussions may, at times, evoke feelings of discomfort or confusion because they grapple with complicated issues and murky solutions. In unpacking these nuanced concepts, students work to arrive at a better understanding of themselves when confronted with moral dilemmas, especially as the outside forces that accompany them challenge their reasoning and decision making. Over the course of the year, students expand their thinking and continue cultivating their voices through reflective journaling, thoughtful dialogue, creative projects, analytical essays, and facilitating discussions.


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