Section: Humanities, Literature   |   School: School of Rhetoric

Having worshiped at the altar of unaided Reason in the 18th century, Western Man drifted toward a more subjective, emotionally-driven philosophy of progress and optimism in the 19th century. But a radical shift took place in the 20th century that extinguished the unbridled idealism of the 1800’s. At the same time, the West experienced a deterioration in the belief in objective reality and morality. In this course, we will explore the works of literature that both shaped and reflected modern man. The list of writers includes such influential authors as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Albert Camus, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and C.S. Lewis. We will examine the sources and implications of various worldviews such as existentialism, relativism, communism, atheism, multiculturalism and feminism. We will also consider where these various views have led us to the 21st century, how 21st century Christians can think about them, and, as I Peter 3:15 says, how we can be ready to “give a defense to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that is in <us>.”

This course carries an honors designation.

Textbook and Readings:

  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce)
  • The Trial (Franz Kafka)
  • The Waste Land; The Four Quartets (T.S. Eliot)
  • The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
  • To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf)
  • As I Lay Dying (William Faulkner)
  • The Stranger (Albert Camus)
  • The Lottery; The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson)
  • Wise Blood (Flannery O’Connor)
  • Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett)
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail (Martin Luther King Jr.)
  • Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut)
  • The Gulag Archipelago (Alexander Solzhenitsyn)
  • Escape from Reason (Francis Schaeffer)
  • God in the Dock (C.S. Lewis)
  • Modern Times (Paul Johnson)
  • Essential Literary Terms (Sharon Hamilton)

This class is intended for 12th graders with substantial exposure to great books such as those included in The Great Conversation series.  Due to the apologetic component of this class, students may receive credit against graduation requirements for either Literature or Theology.

2019-20 Book List