Few would disagree that individuals are endowed with inherent human rights—but what are those rights? And howare they established, acted upon, and guaranteed? This seminar investigates the conception and history of human rights, assesses current debates in the field, and explores what literary texts have to teach us about human rights. Participants will first look at some of the many concerns involved in putting human rights into practice and discuss the difficulties of translating an abstract conception of human rights into specific laws. Participants also will focus on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), then turn to Gillian Slovo’s novel about the TRC—/Red Dust/—and analyze what it has to teach us about the dilemmas confronted by the TRC.
Seminar led by Rebecca Saunders, Illinois State University