What is shame? When are you ashamed? Why do you feel shame at a particular moment? Why is the feeling uncontrollable? How is shame distinguished from guilt? This course explores the ways in which twentieth-century novels examine such questions and why so many novels from the period focus on shame to express the existential conditions of individuals. Analyzing novels of four of the most influential writers of the twentieth century (Elie Wiesel, George Orwell, and Arundhati Roy), and Jane Campion’s film, The Piano, the course will discuss how Jewish, British, Indian, and New Zealand cultures have to do with particular forms of shame and how those texts engage the moments of shame in different manners.