This course will explore the history of the idea of human rights and the role of literature in depicting human rights abuses and in advancing human rights claims, with a particular focus on twentieth-century literature. How does literature contribute to the invention of the concept of human rights? How do the authors talk about human dignity? What issues do they identify as central in their discussions of social justice? What narrative strategies do the authors employ to represent violence without sensationalizing it or turning the reader into a voyeur? What is the role of literature in testifying to human rights abuses? Can literature make a difference in the real world? We will read fictional texts and memoirs from the US, the former Soviet Union, China, South Africa, the Balkans, Germany, and Argentina.