Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

We all grow up with a constellation of others who shape and influence us, and that influence us, and that influence remains a part of our lives. This Honors Scholar seminar will examine the topic of family in world literature. Beginning with Gabriel Garcia Marquez's epic tale of the Buendia family in the fictional town of Macondo in Latin America, our readings will also take us to the lives of two close friends whose families come from a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Italy. From there we will follow the lives of East Indian American families in the Pulitzer-Prize winning collection of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. From short fiction, we will shift our attention to the poetry of Natalie Diaz, a Mojave Native American whose distinctly voiced poems examine the particularities of familty dynamics with dark humor and wit. In our writing we will analyze universal themes of love, death, the cyclicity of time, power, division, and blood ties while deepening our critical understanding of what it means to be human. Our course readings and discussions will explore the need for more global communication and tolerance.

Student Outcomes

Students will be able to analyze and compare how different literary works portray family dynamics, identifying common themes and variations across diverse cultural and historical contexts. Students will be able to critically evaluate the impact of family narratives on character development, plot progression, and overall meaning within a variety of literary genres, including novels, short stories, and poems. Students will be able to demonstrate proficiency in employing relevant literary theories and analytical frameworks to deconstruct family narratives, showcasing an understanding of how narrative thechniques shape the portrayal of familial relationships and conflicts. Students will be able to synthesize their understanding of family narratives in literature by constructing well-reasoned arguments in essays and class discussions, incorporating evidence from primary texts to support their interpretations. Students will be able to engage in collaborative activities, such as group discussions and peer reviews, where they provide constructive feedback on classmates' analyses of family narratives, fostering a deeper appreciation for multiple perspectives and interpretations.