||MW 9-10:30||Wheeler 305||
Reading and Composition
Eliot, TS: The Wasteland ; Faulkner, William: Light in August; Whitman, Walt: Leaves of Grass
This course is designed to prepare you for more rigorous thinking, more elegant writing and more complex academic work. Our work will focus on the essay. Not the five-paragraph one. Not the one that begins with a simple assertion and moves forward, sometimes ploddingly, point by point. The essays you will write in this class are exploratory and persuasive as well as critical and argumentative; they move forward as a form of inquiry, turning on themselves again and again, surprising even the writer as she writes. Every good essay, we will discover, yearns to be sui generis, unlike any of its predecessors.
But of course, even the most unusual essay has features in common with all the others: an idea, or, more properly, a network of ideas that shape and bind the many parts of the essay together, whether those parts be stories of experience, stories about written texts, or reflections about images (paintings, movies, tv shows, or sculpted objects); a three-part structure (beginning, middle, ending); a presentation of ideas (relatively) free of surface errors and adhering to college conventions; and, finally, every good essay reveals how the mind writing it actually makes sense of things. That final element seems now the most fundamental of all.
The essay does not prove, repeat, or reiterate; it is not a static litany of facts. Instead, the essay in this class, like the idea, develops, changes, and expands as the writer considers both her subject and her readers, both new kinds of evidence and what her audience will need to know about this particular piece of evidence. When she gets the words right, when she figures out what she has to say and how to say it, the writing becomes compelling, the subject and the idea more interesting, the reader captivated.