English R1A

Reading and Composition: Realism, Then and Now

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2017 Cordes Selbin, Jesse
MWF 1-2 211 Dwinelle Reading and Composition

Book List

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, Wordsworth, William: Lyrical Ballads; Eliot, George: Silas Marner; Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary; Smith, Zadie: White Teeth

Other Readings and Media

A course packet including all other readings will be available for purchase. 


How have writers attempted to depict “real life” from the 19th century to today? This course explores the relationship between life (“the real”) and literature (“realism”). We’ll explore a variety of realism’s modes, beginning with 19th-century realism as practiced by William Wordsworth, Gustave Flaubert, and George Eliot and then moving through Naturalism, the Modernist recasting of realism, magical realism, cinematic neorealism, and what has been characterized as the “hysterical realism” of our contemporary moment. In addition to the major texts listed above, the course reader will also include texts by practitioners and critics of realism such as Charles Baudelaire, Emile Zola, Virginia Woolf, Jorge Luis Borges, Roland Barthes, James Wood, and Nicholas Dames.

The primary goal of this class is to develop the skills for effective scholarly writing, to which end we will write and rewrite frequently. We will reflect upon processes of rewriting, considering how texts get written into and out of what constitutes reality as such. Expository and argumentative writing are two practical modes that you’ll develop in your own writing in this course. Alongside our reflections on narrative in works of the 19th and 20th centuries, we’ll also think about our own work as creators of contemporary scholarly narratives. Throughout the semester, students will produce several papers of varying length and will work through the stages of outlining, drafting, editing, peer-review, and revising.

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