Can Fiction Teach Us to Be Good? (IN-PERSON)

with Kascha Semonovitch

Genres: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry

Online

Introductory

6 Sessions

Start Date: May 4, 2022
End Date: June 8, 2022
Day of Week: Wednesday
Time: 7:10pm - 9:10pm PT
Capacity: 15 seats
Member Price: $274.50
General Price: $305.00

In this class, we will learn philosophical theories and examine them in fiction that explicitly addresses ethical issues: utilitarianism in Ursula K. Le Guin; deontology in Kazuo Ishiguro; virtue ethics in E. M. Forster and Zadie Smith; systemic injustice in Toni Morrison; and theodicy in Ted Chiang. We will focus on discussion rather than craft, but students will write brief responses to class prompts in fiction or prose. Via her novel On Beauty, Smith raises the question we will address: Should fiction be a thing of beauty or a thing of justice?

This class may be moved online for some or all sessions depending on the COVID-19 public health guidelines and Hugo House’s current in-person program policy. We are monitoring the situation daily. Hugo House prioritizes the health of students and staff. 

Read about our COVID policies here.

Kascha Semonovitch

Kascha Semonovitch

she/her

Kascha Semonovitch’s poems and essays have appeared in journals including Quarterly West, The Bellingham Review, Zyzzyva, The Kenyon Review and others, and in the chapbook Genesis by Dancing Girl Press. She has a PhD in philosophy from Boston College, an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College. She has fellowships at the MacDowell Colony and the Ucross Foundation, and her creative nonfiction was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Kascha has edited two collections of philosophical essays on early twentieth century European thought, and published academic essays, mostly recently Attention and Expression in Simone Weil. She has taught philosophy at Boston College, Seattle University, and Hugo House in Seattle. She runs an art gallery in Seattle. Teaching Philosophy: I believe that we learn by reading – whether the work of our classmates, contemporary authors or canonical works. The work of a teacher lies in asking –and re-asking –questions that motivate us to pay attention to these texts. In class, we think together by articulating our interpretations. When we reach a conflict of interpretation – “Oh, I thought Robert Hass was talking about beauty” or “I thought Descartes meant his elbow”– then we inquire into the reasons for the conflict. After such careful reading, we are ready to re-read our own writing. We are better at paying attention to what is happening in syntax and semantics. As a faculty member at Seattle University for over seven years, I taught the history of philosophy, critical thinking, and ethics. Philosophers pay attention to the history and internal consistency of systems and concepts. This type of paying attention is also invaluable to writers. For example, we might ask whether poet thought through the connections between the terms in a text and the deep history of texts that precede it? Does a fictional or poetic world hold together consistently? I love learning by reading with students.

Website: kaschasemonovitch.com

Most classes are offered at a general and member tuition rates based on instruction hours, with Hugo House members receiving a 10% discount on classes fewer than six sessions.

Early bird discounts are available during the first two weeks of registration and apply to both general and member tuition rates.

To help provide financial accessibility to our class offerings, some classes each quarter are offered with a sliding-scale tuition model, allowing students to pay what they can for the class. For these classes, tuition increments starting at $5 and going up to 125% of the standard pricing will be listed on the page.

Hugo House will only process refund requests that are submitted 5 business days or more before the class start date. To request a refund, log in to your account, go to “My Account,” select the “Orders” tab on the left-hand side, click the appropriate order, and request a refund for your specific class. Administrative fees apply. Please see our full refund policy here.

Class sessions may be recorded if a session falls on a holiday, or if a student has access needs. Class recordings are not guaranteed.

We do not tolerate racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, transphobic or any other oppressive behaviors, regardless of who commits them. Please check out our full community guidelines by clicking here. If an instance of community guidelines are violated and not resolved within the classroom, students may let us know by filling out the student incident report.

Classes may be cancelled if less than the minimum number of students are enrolled within ten days before the class start date. If Hugo House needs to cancel a class for any reason, students can choose between receiving a full credit toward future classes or full refund.

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