The Divine Child:
Representations of Miraculous youth
in the Western Tradition
C LIT 250 A/FRENCH 212 A/ENGL 205 A
Spring 2020 - MW 12:30-2:20pm
Instructor: Doug Collins
“His majesty the baby,” Freud said. Fantasy figure of the absence of mediation, blessing and monstrosity of it. The child as beloved exemption--The innocence of an absence of culture in the service of or ruin of culture. “Men should learn to live with the same seriousness with which children play,” Nietzsche wrote. “The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a wheel rolling on its own, a prime movement, a sacred Yes.” Heraclitus is quoted: “History is a child building a sand-castle by the sea, and that child is the whole majesty of man's power in the world.”
Our theme has its origins in the Jewish Bible, in ancient Greek philosophy and in the nativity narratives of the Gospels. Following examples will be found in images of the Christ child in the latter middle ages, in medieval and Renaissance painting, in the French Enlightenment, in the German eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Schiller and Nietzsche) in English Romanticism (Blake and Wordsworth), in the psychoanalytic literature (Freud, Otto Rank, Melanie Klein), in French Surrealism, in Sartre, in comics (Little Nemo, etc.), in science fiction (Arthur Clarke’s Childhood’s End). The class will view two films: Omo Child: The River and the Bush, by John Rowe and Truffaut’s The Wild Child. This course has no prerequisites and is taught in English. 5 VLPA credits.