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Myth, Punishment & the Rising Waters: Reading the Flood

at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research - Online

(26)
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$315
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Description
Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 21 and older
Average Class Size: 14

Flexible Reschedule Policy: This provider has flexible, free rescheduling for any-in person workshop. Please see the cancellation policy for more details

What you'll learn in this literature class:

The biblical story of the Flood permeates the popular imagination. The plot is certainly familiar— an entire world submerged in water, pairs of animals marching onto the ark, eventual redemption—but our ability to realize the power of this story is often hampered by assumptions about its history or its primitive character. Yet, far from a single localized myth, the story of the flood is central to a range of ancient cultures—from Mesopotamia to the Levant to Greece. 

Moreover, the problems with which the story deals are perennial to human civilization: faith, ethics, pollution, homicide, and punishment and retribution. What can a close, and intertextual, reading of the story of the flood teach us: about justice and punishment, death and redemption, humanity and nature, and the ways we use myth, even today, as a means for contemplating profound, perhaps inscrutable, questions about human society and the human condition?

In this course, we will examine how the scribes who wrote the biblical flood story transformed a well-known narrative into a meditation about ethics, punishment, and justice.

As we read the flood story in Genesis in careful detail, we will come to understand story’s many links to other ancient literatures, from the Mesopotamian Atrahasis and the Epic of Gilgamesh to Plato’s Laws and Hesiod’s Works and Days; from the creation narrative in Genesis to the book of Ezekiel and the legal texts in the Hebrew Bible that deal with murder, pollution, homicide, and the principle of retribution. Aided by Wolfgang Iser’s The Act of Reading, Michael Fishbane’s Biblical Myth and Rabbinic Mythmaking, and Wayne Booth’s The Company We Keep, we’ll think about the power of narrative, and ask: Why and how do cultures create myths? Why did the story of the flood spread and persist to shape the worldview of not only its first audiences but of the many generations to follow?

Finally, we will consider modern retellings of the flood story and their philosophical and cultural implications. As the climate changes and sea levels rise inexorably, in what ways does the flood story form a background for contemporary considerations and images of civilization, apocalypse, and the human future?


Remote Learning

This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.

Upon registration, the instructor will send along additional information about how to log-on and participate in the class.

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Refund Policy

Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.

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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (26)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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