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Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014

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Home study course offered on ethics of reading this spring

Do bad books produce bad behavior? Princeton faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends are invited to explore this and other questions concerning the ethics of reading during a 12-week course offered this spring by the Princeton Alumni Association.

Lee Mitchell, the Holmes Professor of Belles-Lettres in the Department of English, will lead the course, titled "Reading Ethically, Reading Aesthetically."

According to Mitchell, the course will attempt to show how any committed assessment of fiction's aesthetic qualities entails a series of ethical deliberations. "In short, great art can never be ethically neutral," he said.

Using a variety of texts, novels, poems, films and photographs, the class will explore a series of questions about the intersection of ethics and aesthetics. They include: Can racism or sexual explicitness or violent imagery ever be justified in aesthetic terms? Does watching certain images or sharing a narrator's perspective induce unethical behavior in the viewer or reader? Must one be black or female or gay or Jewish to write authentically of those experiences?

Guest lecturers will include Princeton faculty members John Fleming, P. Adams Sitney, Maria DiBattista and Michael Wood.

Each household that enrolls in this home study course will receive a course booklet, readings, lectures on videotape and access to an e-mail discussion group. Those who wish to pursue their studies further can attend optional lectures and precepts on campus for an additional fee. While participants will receive these lectures on videotape in the mail, those who attend them on campus will have an opportunity to hear the speakers "live" and spend time with classmates.

Participants may sign up at any time during the spring semester. The e-mail discussion group will begin on Feb. 1. The cost is $100 per household. For more information or to register, contact Christine Hollendonner in the Alumni Council office at (609) 258-0014.

Contact: Ruth Stevens (609) 258-3601

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