Howard Sklar, PhD

University Lecturer

Department of Modern Languages (English Philology)

University of Helsinki


Docent in Literary Studies, with a Special Emphasis in Narrative Theory (University of Tampere)

Reading Other Minds

Course Description

When we read fiction, we sometimes are given intimate access to the thoughts and feelings of characters in ways that would be impossible in our ordinary interactions with others. In fact, authors often attempt to represent characters whose minds are significantly different from their own, and in some cases different from those of most people.  But this raises an important question: How much can a writer claim to understand or know of the experiences of another? In this course, we will look at this issue by reading a variety of fictional narratives that attempt to represent the experiences of people who in some way are different from the authors who created them. In addition, we will examine some of the techniques that have been used to represent the minds of characters in fiction, as well as the ethical issues raised by authors who attempt to portray the experiences of people who are different from themselves. Course requirements include regular attendance and participation in lectures, assigned readings, one 8-page paper, and one final examination covering the literary and theoretical works studied in class.

Advanced Option Course (Spring 2019)