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LIT 14 — Don Quixote

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Apr 2—May 21
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 15
Unit: 1
Tuition: $400
Instructor(s): Vincent Barletta
Status: Open
7:00—8:50 pm
Apr 2—May 21
8 weeks
Drop By
Apr 15
1 Unit
Vincent Barletta
In 2002, a panel of writers from over fifty countries named Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote “the most meaningful book of all time.” Along with Dante’s La Divina Commedia and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the same panel chose it as one of the three greatest works of the Western canon. Such praise from one’s peers is no small achievement for an author who spent more time in prison than in college, and it speaks to the lasting impact of a 400-year-old work aimed at confounding as much as delighting its readers.

In this course, students will engage in a close reading and discussion of this modern classic, examining both its many meanings and the ways in which it works to elude meaning altogether. Themes include modernity, madness, love (erotic and otherwise), the rise of capitalism, and the origins of the novel. We will also dive into early modern Spanish history and culture (e.g., the wholesale expulsion of Muslim converts to Christianity, the American empire, medicine, and science). As a complementary exercise, we will engage in some “detective work” aimed at developing a concrete sense of how readers have transformed Don Quixote into a classic and continue to present it as such. At the center of our discussion is an attempt to understand Don Quixote (a text more often cited than read) and its place in the world.

Vincent Barletta, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Iberian and Latin American Cultures, Stanford

Vincent Barletta is a research associate at Stanford’s Europe Center and associated faculty in the Center for African Studies, the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, the Mediterranean Studies Forum, and the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. He received a PhD in Hispanic languages and literatures from UCLA.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (ISBN 9780060934347)