Course Description

This comparative inquiry into young adult fiction invites you to explore the topic of the spiritual journey both academically and personally. At the core of this course is contemplative reading and writing.  Different disciplinary perspectives and experiential contemplative practices, will help us shed light on our private reading experiences and deepen our exploration of such themes as: religiosity vs. spirituality, experiencing divine presence and absence, becoming a hero, confronting evil, being different, achieving autonomy, faith and doubt, and the magical and the miraculous.  My hope is that, over the course of the semester, you will develop a personal vocabulary in which you can express your thoughts on spiritual journeys in young adult fiction as well as articulate the relationships between your own quest and your academic pursuits.  These connections are made powerful and rich through the reflective approach we will take to both reading and writing.

This discussion based, reading-intensive and writing-intensive seminar is cross-listed in the Comparative Literature and German departments and most texts come from the Western tradition. The course meets the second writing requirement.  The sessions will be held in English.  Together we will create an environment that encourages all students to participate actively in discussion, to engage the readings and each other critically and compassionately, to develop a regular reflective writing practice, and to work collaboratively in small learning teams.

I warmly invite students from a variety of academic backgrounds and with diverse interests in the topic to apply. If you are interested in the course, please read my letter to prospective students.

Tentative Reading List (books will be available at the bookstore)

Bradley, Kimberly. The War that Saved my Life

Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street

Curtis, Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham

Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha

Lopez, Barry. Crow and Weasel

Moore, Christopher. Lamb; The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Friend

Nijkamp, Marieke. Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens

Potok, Chaim. The Chosen

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis

Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give

Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming

Film (available on Clemons reserve)


A Monster Calls

Queen of Katwe

Ready Player One



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