The Divided World: Duty and Desire in Literature and Life
Presented at the CiRCE National Conference 2022.
All stories — including our own — are at heart about choices fraught with a universal and fundamental conflict: what we ought to do (duty) versus what we want to do (desire). This talk presents a cohesive interpretive framework for literature and life, examining the fundamental divide between duty and desire and claiming that the common problems of human existence spring from the conflict between them. Speaking from the intersection of literary studies, human psychology, and Christian spirituality, Heidi White presents how enduring stories from literature and life reflect the dissonance between duty and desire that plagues the fractured cosmos and, by extension, every human soul.