What does it mean to be a human being and to be alive? This is the fundamental question of literature and of our lives. This question and new attempts to answer it come to full consciousness in the late 19th - and 20th centuries in modern thought and literature. In this course we'll move from the philosophic narratives of Nietzsche, Marx, Darwin, and Freud, to the aesthetic narratives of Charlie Chaplin, Dostoevsky, Woolf, Morrison, and Kundera to consider how they pose the question of life's meaning and how they suggest responses as stories to help us tell the story of our own search for meaning. This is a course for those who like to read and think long and hard about the nature of being.