Announcement of Classes: Fall 2012

The Announcement of Classes is available one week before Tele-Bears begins every semester. Creative Writing and (for fall) Honors Course applications are available at the same time in the racks outside of 322 Wheeler Hall.


Reading & Composition: Snobbery

English R1A

Section: 1
Instructor: Ling, Jessica
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Howells, William Dean: The Rise of Silas Lapham; Smith, Zadie: On Beauty;

Recommended: Franzen, Jonathan : The Corrections; Wharton, Edith: The House of Mirth

Other Readings and Media

Course reader includes: selections from The Book of Snobs and Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray. "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists," George Eliot. "Am I Snob?," Virginia Woolf. "A Portrait of the Hipster," Anatole Broyard. "Positions" from What Was the Hipster? A Sociological Investigation, "What Was the Hipster?" from New York Magazine, Mark Grief. "On Douchebags," Robert Moor. Selections from Distinction, Pierre Bourdieu. Selections from Oedipus Unbound, René Girard. Selected articles on Oprah/Franzen controversy. 

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers suggested, but not required.

Description

We know a snob when we see one, though snobbery itself is curiously hard to define. Is it a process of making aesthetic distinctions or social ones? Or both? How do the choices we make every day – reading the right books, riding the right bike, eating with the right fork, measuring a hem – define the company we keep? And if we label someone else a snob, are we ourselves snobs? Thackeray writes: “You must not judge hastily or vulgarly of Snobs: to do so shows that you yourself are a Snob. I myself have been taken for one.” Tracing the figure of the snob from Victorian London to Williamsburg (circa 2004), from third wave coffee shops to the ivory tower, we’ll watch how the snob precariously positions himself in a field of judgment while maintaining a cautious sense of our own snobbery. We’ll also consider the novel’s place in training its readers to be good snobs. How does the novel correlate social positions with aesthetic taste? Is narration always an act of snobbery? And how does the novel position itself as an object of taste – what happens when bad literature aspires to be good?

This class seeks to hone writing skills, with particular attention to exposition and argument. In addition to weekly readings, a series of short essays (2-4 pages) will be assigned, beginning with a diagnostic. We’ll refine these essays through a combination of workshops and individual conferences. 


Reading & Composition: Love Songs

English R1A

Section: 2
Instructor: Perry, R. D.
Time: MWF 10-11
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Beghtol, L. D.: The Magnetic Field’s 69 Love Songs: A Field Guide; Chaucer, Geoffrey: Dream Visions and Other Poems; Morrison, Toni: Beloved; Plato: Symposium; Shakespeare, William: Twelfth Night, or What You Will; The Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs

Other Readings and Media

Please note that The Magnetic Fields' work is in fact a CD box set.  If you choose to acquire it as an MP3, that is fine.  Just make sure to get the complete 3-disc album.

Additional short readings on b-space from the Bible, St. Augustine, Boethius, Richard Roos, John Donne, John Keats, and others.

Description

This course takes as its object of study works of art that concern themselves with the nature of  “love.”  Arguably the most popular and ubiquitous of aesthetic productions, what we will broadly be calling Love Songs are now perhaps most closely associated with lyric poetry.  However, the feeling that we call “love” has a rich history with a wide variety of formal and semantic variation.  Throughout this course, we will look at different historical moments and ask of each what is meant by the term “love” and what kinds of strategies of representation seemed most suitable to it.  We will engage with the term both diachronically, across time periods, and synchronically, attending to the variations within each period.  We will wonder, for instance, what Plato’s “eros” has to do with “agape,” as well as what connection these terms have to either Chaucer’s notion of “love” or Toni Morrison’s.

So, “love” is the subject of our course, but not the work of the course.  The purpose of R1A is to focus on your writing.  We will spend a lot of time in class talking about how you would write on this material, from working on the construction of sentences and paragraphs to the formulation of thesis statements and how to best argue them.  You will write 4 different papers over the course of the semester, revising most of them at least once.


Reading & Composition: The Miniature

English R1A

Section: 3
Instructor: Ty, Michelle
Time: MWF 10-11
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Stein, Gertrude: Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein; Walser: Microscripts

Description

First and foremost, this course will be about writing.  A propos of the seminar’s theme, we will work on and revise mostly small pieces, while reading and thinking about miniatures of all kinds.

This course about the miniature will begin big, with an epic, and end with pieces of literature so small, you can hold them, entire, in the palm of your hand.   Throughout the semester, we will explore what it means to attend to the minute—and how such attention might also correspond to various ways of seeing the world.  We will spend time considering how the microscopic gaze might be distinguished from the kind of view offered by the (social and political) microcosm, and will think about how the scale of a representation can invite certain modes of interpretation, along with various assumptions about a work’s value, potency, charm, or exemplarity.

In the latter part of the course, we will consider how “smallness” has become something of a pseudo-concept in aesthetics, often opposed to the sublimely great, and associated with a feminized notion of beauty.  And we will ask how miniature genres, like the anecdote, might function, or not function, as a kind of historical writing.  

Requirements for the course include the following:

·      One two-page response paper at the semester’s beginning;

·      Three three-page papers, which will be revised and peer-reviewed

·      Weekly responses on the online forum 

·      An in-class presentation, relevant to the selected week’s readings, which will become the basis for a 4-page paper, due at the semester’s end

Book/Film List:

The Odyssey (Selections); Austen, Emma; Aesop, Fables; Robert Walser, Microscripts; Kafka, Parables & Paradoxes; Gertrude Stein, Selected Writings, and “How to Write” (excerpts); Lichtenberg, The Wastebooks; films by Marie Menken and Maya Deren; animated shorts by Brad Neeley

Available as a course reader: 

Woolf, “Solid Objects” and “Kew Gardens”; Andreas Huyssen, “The Modernist Miniature”; Félix Fénéon, Illustrated Three-line Novels; Poe, “The Black Cat”; Boxes, by Joseph Cornell

Also selections from the following: Susan Stewart, On Longing; Walter Benjamin, the Arcades Project and “The Storyteller”; Pascal’s Pensées; Hooke’s Micrographia; La Rochefoucauld, Maxims; Swift, Gulliver’s Travels; Cervantes, “Exemplary Tales”; Nietzsche’s The Gay Science; Anne Carson, Short Talks; Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment; The New Testament; Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.

 


Reading & Composition: Music and Modernism

English R1A

Section: 4
Instructor: Le, Serena
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Eliot, T.: Collected Poems: 1909-1962; Forster, H.: Howards End; Hopkins, G.: The Major Works; Joyce, J.: Poems and Shorter Writings; Pound, E.: The Pisan Cantos; Stein, G.: Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein; Stevens, W.: The Collected Poems; Yeats, W.: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats;

Recommended: Pound, E.: ABC of Reading

Other Readings and Media

A course reader containing stories by Woolf and Joyce, poems by Thomas Hardy and Ezra Pound, essays by Pound, Eliot, Stevens, and other modernist thinkers, and excerpts from Joyce’s Ulysses.

Listenings (including works of Schoenberg, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, and above-mentioned operas) available through library databases and other online resources.

Description

“Poets who will not study music are defective.” So wrote Ezra Pound in 1917, as World War I raged in Europe and literary modernism gained momentum both alongside, and in response. Pound may have been among the bluntest of his contemporaries, but he was far from alone in his belief. As this course will show, deep convictions about the vitality of music to the craft of the written word are as prevalent in modernist literature as considerations of the word itself. Over the course of the semester, we will discuss music and modernism in tandem, seeking both to identify the nature of convictions held, and to begin the work of determining how they are challenged or carried out. A background in music theory, history, or performance is by no means necessary, though students should be prepared to listen with interest and attention to some of the period’s most distinctive musical works.

Written assignments for this course will consist of a series of short essays, with considerable room for, and emphasis on, revision. Students should expect to develop practical fluency in critical writing, and to hone skills in exposition and argumentation.


Reading & Composition: What Have I Done ?

English R1A

Section: 5
Instructor: Creasy, CFS
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable; Ford, Ford Madox: The Good Soldier; Freud, Sigmund: Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria; Grene, David: Sophocles I: Oedipus The King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone; Poe, Edgar Allan: The Portable Edgar Allan Poe; Stevenson, Robert Louis: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales

Other Readings and Media

A film screening of either Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger or Blow-up.

An online course reader with theoretical excerpts that may include G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, and Carlo Ginzburg.

Description

This course will examine the problematic interactions between experience, action, and knowledge. Focusing primarily on the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, we will read mostly narrative literary works that address a problem of knowledge and self-knowledge that seems to hinge, paradoxically, on a moment of error. To the casual observer, these works might be taken to be so many detective stories. Nothing is less certain. Thus, we will flirt mercilessly with that generic convention, as well as the not unrelated convention of the tragic, but we will refuse to allow ourselves to mistake either for truth, since it is the truth we seek. The relationship between literature and other discourses presumably concerned with truth (e.g. philosophy and something like science) also will be at stake, but above all we will address the ways in which these texts thematize and formalize problems of the relationship between knowledge, self-knowledge, action, and error—how they are about these problems, and how they create these problems for us as we confront them.

Beyond the intrinsic interest of these works, our readings will open onto the underlying pragmatic goal of this course, which is to facilitate the development of your critical reflection and writing skills. We will use the questions that this material poses of us, as well as those we pose of it, to construct persuasive and cogent arguments, writing progressively larger essays with progressively more sophisticated conceptual substance. The semester will begin with a short diagnostic essay, followed by three papers of increasing length. A peer review process will help you as you revise at least two of these papers. In all, you will produce at least thirty-two pages of writing over the semester—including drafts and revisions.


Reading & Composition: (Re)presenting the Past

English R1A

Section: 6
Instructor: Dumont, Alex
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Bechdel, Alison: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic; James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw; Melville, Herman: Billy Budd and Other Stories; Sebald, W.G.: Austerlitz

Other Readings and Media

- A course reader, which will include: Nathaniel Hawthorne's, "My Kinsman, Major Molineux", selections from Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, selections from Charles Darwin's, On the Origin of Species, selected Victorian ghost stories, and selected criticism on The Turn of the Screw, as well as a variety of other short critical and theoretical texts.

- The Innocents (dir. Jack Clayton), a film to be screened in class.

Description

This course will ask a variety of questions about the interaction of the past and the present in literature, beginning with one that may (at first) seem simple:  What exactly do we mean by “the past”?  This question, as we will see, has many answers.  Personal experience, history, inheritance, memory and tradition will all be considered.  The past, as we will see, can be nurturing and haunting, inspiring and oppressive, far out of reach and all too close.  Finally, we will ask, in what ways does art always contend with the past?  In what ways is it always separated from it?

The connection between past and present is not just something about which we read and write, but also part of how our own reading and writing work.  Texts and ideas are engaged in a conversation with earlier texts and ideas, and the work we will do in this class is no exception.  As you develop your abilities in reading, writing, and analysis, you will hopefully begin to think about your work as part of this larger conversation.  To this end, we will spend substantial class time considering how an argument is constructed, and how we relate critically to a text—skills that should serve you well whether your major is in or outside of the humanities.


Reading & Composition: Imagining America, Imagining a New World

English R1A

Section: 7
Instructor: Mansouri, Leila
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Defoe, Daniel: Moll Flanders; Franklin, Benjamin: The Autobiography and Other Writings; Hacker, Diana: Rules for Writers, 6th edition; Shakespeare, William: The Tempest

Other Readings and Media

A course reader including excerpts and short works by John Winthrop, Phillis Wheatley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, and others.

 

Description

What do we imagine when we imagine America? Is America a place? A set of ideals? Both? For the writers we’ll look at, America was a “new world” – one that represented not only a new and uncharted space on the map but a space for conceiving novel relations between man and society, man and government, and man and God. We’ll look at how a number of writers imagined America – and, especially, at how these writers’ imagined Americas were shaped by religious, political, and philosophical ideas – and we’ll ask what’s at stake in the ways each of the writers figured this new world. In doing so, we’ll also ask what, if anything, these imagined Americas have to do with the reality of life in the American colonies and, later, the United States of America.

Our discussion of how these writers imagine America will be shaped by a close attention to the way these writers use rhetoric and figurative language, with an eye to how we might learn from their writing to improve our own. To that end, frequent short responses that ask you to pay close attention to both these writers’ sentences and your own will help you to hone your prose and your critical reading skills. Additionally, over the course of the semester, you will write and a number of short essays, totaling 32 pages including drafts. The peer-review and revision process for each essay will help you learn to fully develop your ideas, engage and persuade your audience, and sharpen your prose.

 


Reading & Composition: Perception and Revolution

English R1A

Section: 8
Instructor: O'Connor, Megan
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Austen, Jane: Northanger Abbey; Melville, Herman: Billy Budd, Sailor and Selected Tales; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein

Other Readings and Media

Course Reader that may include shorter texts by Mary Wollstonecraft, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Jose Martí, Margaret Fuller, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman and others.

Description

"But these enchantments were a little disenchanted as his eye fell on the corroded main-chains."                                                          - Herman Melville

As an R&C course, this R1A class will focus on writing skills.  We will practice and discuss the different elements that make up a strong paper, with special attention to argumentation and exposition.  Students will have multiple opportunities to edit and rework drafts of papers.

We will engage the assigned readings – novels, poems, short stories, and essays – as texts that challenge us to read with greater attention to detail, think more critically, write with more precision, and argue with greater nuance.  More specifically we will follow the assigned texts in asking questions about perception and what we might think of as revolutions in perception.  What happens when perception reaches a kind of crisis?  To what extent does a change in perception really produce change?  What are the advantages as well as limitations of visual metaphors?  We will pay particular attention to instances in the texts where perception is contested, unintelligible, altered, contradicted, and changed over the course of time or even an instant.  As we use our guiding concepts and metaphors of ‘perception’ and ‘revolution’ as a means for engaging the texts, we will also use the texts as ways of challenging our guiding concepts.

Requirements:

• Short diagnostic paper

• A minimum of 32 pages of writing, divided among papers of 2-4 pages in length

• Revisions of at least three of these papers


Reading & Composition: Eros and Its Discontents

English R1A

Section: 9
Instructor: Lee, Richard Z
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Augustine: Confessions; Austen, Jane: Persuasion; Nabokov, Vladimir: The Annotated Lolita; Plato: The Symposium; Shakespeare, William: As You Like It;

Recommended: Fish, Stanley: How to Write a Sentence

Other Readings and Media

Simon Schama's Power of Art: "Bernini"; Woody Allen (dir.), Annie Hall; The Beatles, Meet the Beatles! and Rubber Soul

Description

This class will have two aims: to develop transferrable writing skills so that students will be well equipped to approach the variety of essay forms they will encounter throughout their college careers, and to think critically about some influential discourses of love and desire as they have developed throughout the Western tradition.  We will begin with foundational accounts of the “problem” of sexual desire in Plato’s Symposium and excerpts from Augustine’s Confessions before turning to Shakespeare’s exuberant and ironic consideration of Eros in As You Like It.  We’ll continue by looking at the intersections of sexual and spiritual desire in poems by John Donne and the Bernini sculpture “The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa.”  We’ll then approach the fraught social dynamics of desire by reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, and conclude by shifting our attention to the newer media of film and pop music, when we’ll watch Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and listen to the earlier music of the Beatles.  Time and student inclination permitting, we may also read some influential theoretical texts by Sigmund Freud and Michel Foucault.  As the semester progresses, we’ll think carefully about how these very different media go about representing and communicating the nature of desire.

Throughout, our course will develop the range and depth of your thinking about the college essay through weekly writing assignments.  We'll consider matters of sentence craft and paragraph organization alongside those of critical reflection.  Students will ultimately produce a total of thirty-two pages of writing across several shorter essays and mandatory revisions. 


Reading & Composition: Things Are Not Okay

English R1A

Section: 10
Instructor: Junkerman, Nicholas
Time: MWF 3-4
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Brown, Charles Brockden: Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist; St. John de Crevecoeur, J. Hector: Letters from an American Farmer

Other Readings and Media

A course reader featuring selected shorter works and critical essays.

Description

 

This course will concentrate on American works written in the decades following the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.  We will be focusing on the work of authors who express unease, pessimism and even anger about the newly created United States.  While they have their hopeful moments, these texts raise serious questions about the stability, the morality and even the sanity of the new nation and its people.  We will consider these dark musings in their immediate historical context, but also in a larger sense.  What is the value of national pessimism?  What are the consequences of righteous anger?  How and why do we write about our fears?

The central goal of this class is to develop tools and strategies for effective writing.  This development will take place alongside and in dialogue with the works that we encounter throughout the semester. Students will be asked to write several papers, the length of which will increase as the semester progresses.  We will take these papers through the crucial stages of drafting and revision, a process which will include peer review sessions and meetings with the instructor.


Reading & Composition: Inhumanity

English R1A

Section: 11
Instructor: Tazudeen, Rasheed
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 189 Dwinelle


Book List

Byatt, A.S.: Angels and Insects; Flaubert, Gustave: The Temptation of Saint Anthony; Kafka, Franz: The Metamorphosis; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein

Other Readings and Media

Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (selections); Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man (film); A course reader with selections from Gillian Beer, Charles Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, Donna Haraway, Vickie Hearne, Timothy Morton, Arne Naess, Friedrich Nietzsche, Benedict de Spinoza, and others. 

 

Description

“Nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts, and likewise with no species, but only with an X that remains inaccessible and undefinable for us”

—Friedrich Nietzsche

Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature and scientific and philosophical thought posed a challenge to the common belief in the inherent superiority of human over nonhuman life.  As the work of Darwin and other naturalist scientists before and after him decentered the place of the human, a new literature attempted to represent a world not shaped by human intention, artifice, logic, will, and desire.  Many authors and poets adopted a non-anthropocentric perspective in their works, the perspective of the inhuman, the monstrous, and the creaturely, in order to call into question dominant understandings of life, species, the environment, and the human-nonhuman divide.  Our course explores this changed scientific, philosophical, and literary landscape with an eye towards the complexities of how inhumanity, in all its amorphousness and indifference to reason and rational understanding, can be thought by a human consciousness and inscribed into language.

That said, the primary goal of our class is to improve your ability to inscribe complex ideas and interesting arguments into  language.  We will concentrate on mechanics and style, learn how to read closely, formulate arguments, gather evidence, and organize claims into persuasive essays.  Course assignments will include a minimum of 32 pages of writing divided among a number of short essays. 


Reading & Composition: Everywhere is Nowhere: Urbanism and Place in Literature and Art

English R1A

Section: 12
Instructor: Miller, Christopher Patrick
Time: TTh 8-9:30
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Calvino, Italo: Invisible Cities; O'Hara, Frank: Lunch Poems; Poe, Edgar Allen: Selected Stories of Edgar Allan Poe; Rilke, Rainer Maria: Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge; Whitman, Walt: Leaves of Grass; Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway

Other Readings and Media

Course Reader: Essays:   Ralph Waldo Emerson “Experience”; Henri David Thoreau “Walking”; Baudelaire “Painter of Modern Life”; Walter Benjamin “Paris Expose 1935”; Gaston Bachelard “Poetics of Space” (selections); Robert Venturi and Denise Scott “Learning from Las Vegas”; Writings of the Situationists International (various essays); David Harvey “From Place to Space and Back Again”; Selections from other New York School and Modernist poets

Films / Photographs:  Photographs by Walker Evans, William Eggleston, Andreas Gursky, and Jeff Wall; films: Spike Lee “Do The Right Thing” and Kelly Reichardt “Wendy and Lucy”
 

Description

How do you describe the feel of a city?  What gives a place character?  What enables someone know where they are?  What do we do when we are lost?   
 
This course will pursue fundamental questions about how we imagine, read, reconstruct, and inhabit places.  As we will see, practical questions about how to navigate or understand a place can open on to broad questions about how we value experience, construct social relations, and define the limits of public and private forms.  Just as architecture aspires to give a built form to human thought and ambition, so too does literature provide a formal context in which to experiment with different kinds of human movement and structure.  Our inquiries will take up place and urban experience as a complex social, historical, and political process in which imagination and reality are often interchangeable.  
 
To give us a ground for our conversations, we will look closely at many different “genres” of work about place, fictional and non-fictional.  Our focus will be on how to use these practical and conceptual questions to learn how to be effective critical readers and develop persuasive, contestable arguments. 
 


Reading & Composition: Nostalgia, Homesickness and Exile

English R1A

Section: 13
Instructor: Lee, Sookyoung (Soo)
Time: MW 4-5:30
Location: 179 Dwinelle


Book List

Coetzee, J. M.: Life and Times of Michael K; Conrad, Joseph: The Shadow-Line: A Confession; Ghosh, Amitav: The Shadow Lines; Rushdie, Salman: The Moor's Last Sigh;

Recommended: Williams, Joseph: Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace

Other Readings and Media

A course reader: short stories by Flannery O'Connor; poetry by Mahmoud Darwish and Li-Young Lee; selections from Rainer Maria Rilke.

Films: Atom Egoyan, Calendar; Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire

Description

“History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake,” declares Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, wishing to unburden himself from the baggages of the past that placed him where he is.

Yet most of us can attest to that feeling of missing a moment in time or an old self. Where does the feeling of nostalgia come from, and to what extent is it personal or collective? The more I know, the less certain I become; so how trustworthy is our remembrance of things past? How does homesickness – produced by both geographical and temporal distance – inform the way a subject acts in the present? Does exile, the banishment from a native land, sensitize the imagination and condition one's ability to empathize? To consider how the modes of nostalgia, homesickness and exile are reflected in and amplified by literature, we will look at writers in various contexts of the last century.

As if to show us how time erodes selfhood, the narratives on the syllabus equivocate between tenses and persons. In responding to these texts, however, the opposite will be the case for your own writing. We will work to hone our critical voice and analytic skills through a series of medium-length essays, presentations, and short response papers.


Reading & Composition: The Essay: Evidence and Idea

English R1A

Section: 14
Instructor: Speirs, Kenneth
Time: MW 10:30-12
Location: 305 Wheeler


Book List

Lahiri, Jhumpa: Interpreter of Maladies

Other Readings and Media

a course reader

Description

Our work in this class 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 we will write in this class are exploratory as well as persuasive; 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, observations of the world, or reflections about written texts or images; a three-part structure (beginning, middle, ending); and, finally, every good essay reveals how the mind writing it actually makes sense of things.  That final element may be the most fundamental of all.

The essay we have in mind here 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.

 


Reading & Composition: Tanto melior: The Rhetoric of Superiority

English R1A

Section: 15
Instructor: Saltzman, Benjamin A.
Time: TTh 12:30-2
Location: 305 Wheeler


Book List

Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy; Milton, John: Paradise Lost; Shakespeare, William: The Winter's Tale; Strunk, William and E. B. White: The Elements of Style

Other Readings and Media

Other readings will include selections from Chaucer, Gregory the Great, Quintilian, George Orwell, and Dante, along with an assortment of critical literature.

Description

“Tanto melior: ne ego quidem intellexi!” [So much better: even I couldn’t understand it!]

So goes the famous compliment than an ancient orator once gave to his student. In response to this example of rhetorical praise, this course will explore what it means to be a “superior” writer by exploring the meaning of superiority across several pieces of literature from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. We will ask not only how superiority is constructed within these texts (how the balance between dangerous pride and godly excellence operates in sections of Paradise Lost, for example), but also why these texts have been deemed superior literary specimens (why, for example, Shakespeare is considered famous for his literary genius). In the process, we will encounter the very question on which our education depends: what makes for superior writing?

This course will develop the student’s reading comprehension and writing skills as we learn how to ask a good question, construct a strong argument, and compose that argument in clear, compelling prose. We will write four short essays, and strategies for revision will form a major focus of the course. All papers, save the diagnostic essay at the start of the semester, will also undergo work and feedback at the prewriting and draft stages of composition.


Reading & Composition: Unreliable Narrators

English R1A

Section: 16
Instructor: Xiang, Sunny
Time: TTh 2-3:30
Location: 305 Wheeler


Book List

Hamid, Mohsin: The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Ishiguro, Kazuo: An Artist of the Floating World; James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw; Johnson, James Weldon: The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man; Nabokov, Vladimir: Lolita

Other Readings and Media

course reader

Description

What happens when the teller of a story misleads us? What qualities make for a palatable narrator that we as readers are willing to follow to the end of the book? In this course, we will read select twentieth-century novels that prompt us to examine the conditions that influence our capacity to trust the storyteller speaking to us. In speculating on the broader effects and implications of these narrators’ unreliability, we will also attempt to complicate our own position as readers.

This course requires you to complete two essays of increasing length. For these papers, you will go through a process of outlining, drafting, editing, and revising to build a repertoire of critical reading and writing skills. You will also be expected to complete short writing assignments and responses.  


Reading & Composition: History and Form

English R1A

Section: 17
Instructor: Garcia, Marcos Albert
Time: TTh 3:30-5
Location: 35 Evans


Book List

Defoe, Daniel: A Journal of the Plague Year; Gower, John: Confessio Amantis, Volume 1; MacMillan, Margaret: Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History; Portelli, Alessandro: The Death of Luigi Trastulli, and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History; Shakespeare, Wm.: Richard III; White, Hayden: The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation

Other Readings and Media

Course Packet:  Comparative selections of ancient, medieval, and early modern epics, chronicles, biographies, autobiographies, romances, and world, national, and ecclesiastical histories, with an emphasis on texts produced in England.  Short theoretical selections from Marx, Ranke, Benjamin, de Certeau, etc.

Description

The goal of this course is to explore the conventions, contexts, and uses of writing about the past.  We will investigate historical "writing" in a variety of media (oral recitation, chronicles, poetry, plays, novels, film, etc.) and historical periods (ancient, medieval, early modern, contemporary, etc.), concentrating on the manner in which particular linguistic, rhetorical, generic, visual, and technical conventions produce distinctive conceptions of the past that reflect and respond to specific historical conditions and crises.  This will mean learning some principles of literary criticism (both historicist and formalist), and applying them to a wide range of texts both in our class discussions and in the written assignments.  The readings will consist on the one hand of several theoretical works to frame our discussions of the problems, and on the other of samplings from ancient, medieval, and early modern history writing, culminating in three longer works by Gower, Shakespeare, and Defoe. 

The written assignments will primarily be analyses of particular texts or problems, but one assignment will involve producing an actual historical text. You will write a 2-page diagnostic essay early in the semester.  You will then write three 4-page papers, each of which you will revise one time.  Finally, you will choose one of those 4-page papers to revise and expand into a final 6-page paper.


Reading & Composition: Taste Matters

English R1A

Section: 18
Instructor: Taylor, Bradford Alden
Time: TTh 3:30-5
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Keats, John: The Complete Poems; Stein, Gertrude: Tender Buttons; Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray; Woolf, Virginia: To the Lighthouse

Other Readings and Media

Film:

Luis Buñuel, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

A course reader, including:

             David Hume, “Of the Standard of Taste”

William Hazlitt, “On Gusto”

Jean Brillat-Savarin, excerpts from The Physiology of Taste

Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market

Franz Kafka, The Hunger Artist

Pierre Bourdieu, “Taste of Luxury, Taste of Necessity”

Carolyn Korsmeyer, “The Meaning of Taste and the Taste of Meaning”

Michael Pollan, excerpts from The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Description

What do we mean when we say that someone has “good taste” or a “cultured palate”? What makes a joke “tasteless” or a film “disgusting”? The concept of taste plays a role in our daily activities (“What’s for lunch?”), but it is also a term deployed in the highest realms of aesthetic appreciation (“Is this art?”). Taste cuts across literature, philosophy, cultural studies and gastronomy. Our readings will be varied accordingly.

Taste is also a deeply subjective and personal sense. We will, therefore, work to refine our descriptive and expository writing skills, learning how to convey personal experiences and interpretations clearly and persuasively. The course will also include a tasting at Blue Bottle Coffee Roasters in Oakland.


Reading & Composition: What is Enlightenment?

English R1A

Section: 19
Instructor: Mangin, Sarah
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Coetzee, J.M.: Elizabeth Costello; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein; Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver's Travels

Other Readings and Media

Course Reader

Bertolucci, Bernardo: The Conformist (film)

Description

What constitutes cultural progress? How do we value the potential of a life and a mind? This course will explore some of the complicated legacies of the European Enlightenment. To begin, we will survey ways in which the Enlightenment remains both an ideal and an illusion as it is currently invoked in debates about American prisons, cognition in the Internet age, and the public university. We will then turn to consider a variety of source materials from the crackling public sphere of the eighteenth century—popular magazines, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, “Newtonian” poetry, the paintings of Jacques Louis David—all of which debate the nature of humanity and citizenship. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bernardo Bertolucci’s film The Conformist, and J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello will help us interrogate broader ethical, perceptual, and political anxieties about Enlightenment compacts in modernity. 

Amid these cultural contexts, our goal is to develop the range and depth of your thinking when approaching the college essay; we will consider matters of sentence craft alongside those of organization and critical reflection. As you track your responses to the readings and engage in lively debate with your colleagues, you will produce a total of thirty-two pages across several short essays and revisions. While we might not answer definitively the question of the course title, our task is that of transmuting “enlightenments” into essay form, into the convincing presentation of your discoveries.


Reading & Composition: When Reading Goes Wrong

English R1A

Section: 20
Instructor: Bauer, Mark
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location: 109 Wheeler


Book List

Ishiguro, Kazuo: Remains of the Day; McEwan, Ian: Atonement; Nabokov, Vladimir: Pale Fire; Pynchon, Thomas: The Crying of Lot 49

Other Readings and Media

A course reader of essays and poems

Description

Every day, we’re called upon to make hundreds of interpretive judgments based on things we read, see, or hear.  But what happens when we misjudge one of these texts, or when we’re unable to judge it at all?  In addition to being a common element in post-World War II British and American literature, these depictions of failed readings raise important questions about our expectations for genres, not just as readers, but as writers.  What do we assume about a poem, for example, or an essay, when sitting down to read or write one?  How do the writers of those pieces manipulate generic assumptions for maximum effect?  This course’s focus both on depictions of reading practices and on the practices themselves across a variety of genres will allow us to think more deeply about the constructedness of text, an exploration that will in turn lead to careful considerations of writing and the elements that help to constitute skillful uses of language.  In addition to these investigations, the course will also cultivate students’ argumentative and analytical abilities through the drafting, editing, and revision of several short papers over the course of the semester.


Reading & Composition: Educating the Creature

English R1A

Section: 21
Instructor: Naturale, Lauren
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 189 Dwinelle


Book List

Austen, Jane: Emma; Godwin, William: Caleb Williams; Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: Emile; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein; Wollstonecraft, Mary: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Other Readings and Media

Clueless. Dir. Amy Heckerling. Paramount, 1995. 

Description

"Well, sir, after all, I cannot help feeling very uncomfortably as to my ideas of human nature, when I find that there is no dependence to be placed upon its perseverance, and that, at least among the illiterate, the most promising appearances may end in the foulest disgrace."

"You think, then, that literature and a cultivated mind are the only assurance for the constancy of our principles!"

"Humph!--why do you suppose, sir, that learning and ingenuity do not often serve people rather to hide their crimes than to restrain them from committing them? History tells us strange things in that respect."

-- William Godwin, Caleb Williams (1794)

This writing course focuses on theories of education. What power do books have (or not have) to shape a developing character? Does the way we are raised determine who we will become? If we want to enact radical change in the world, what changes do we need to make in the way we educate our citizens? These are broad questions, but our reading will be comparatively narrow: beginning with selections from Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (which argues not so much that women are equal, but that they *could* be equal if society was better organized) we will move to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and from there to Caleb Williams by William Godwin (Wollstonecraft's husband and Shelley's father). We'll conclude with two books by people who are, astonishingly, not related to Mary Shelley in any way: Rousseau's  Emile: or, on Education (excerpt)and Jane Austen's Emma, which takes a rather different look at the question of how one might learn to perceive the world accurately - - and in which the title character's own attempts to educate or fix her friend Harriet go disastrously awry. So: our somewhat nebulous topic will be anchored by a reading list organized tightly around a specific moment in time.

The goal of this class is to improve your writing! Students will complete one two page diagnostic essay and three subsequent short essays (each of which will be revised).

 


Reading & Composition: Ideas of the University

English R1B

Section: 1
Instructor: Larner-Lewis, Jonathan
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Hardy, Thomas: Jude the Obscure; Woolf, Virginia: Three Guineas

Description

This seems like a good a time to try to figure out, maybe even articulate, what we are all doing here. We will read and write around the themes of education, work and leisure, trying to come to some understanding of what they mean and how they function and interact in our culture, in our own lives, and at our own University. We will engage a few novels, some poetry, essays, films, and other documents, using our readings as an impetus to thinking, discussion, and lots of writing.

At the same time we will work hard on our own writing, on how we construct sentences and paragraphs and develop arguments, with our assignments leading to increasingly complex applications of these skills in the academic environment. We’ll write a short diagnostic essay at the beginning of the semester, followed by three papers of increasing length. We will make use of an extensive peer-review process for our longer papers, which will orient you to your audience, sharpen your critical skills, and improve your writing in the way only heavy revision can. Your final paper will be a research-based project of around 8 pages on an education-related topic of your own devising.


Reading & Composition: On the Road

English R1B

Section: 2
Instructor: Yoon, Irene
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Nabokov, Vladimir: The Annotated Lolita; Steinbeck, John: Travels with Charley in Search of America

Other Readings and Media

(May include the following...)

[F i l m s  &  T V  s h o w s]

  • Sullivan's Travels
  • I Love Lucy
  • Thelma and Louise

[C o u r s e   R e a d e r]

  • Select FSA photographs by Dorothea Lange
  • Vladimir Nabokov's "Good Readers and Good Writers"
  • Michel de Certeau's "Spatial Stories"
  • Frederick Jackson Turner's "The Significance of the Frontier in American History"
  • Excerpts from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath
  • Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
  • John F. Kennedy's "New Frontier" speech

Description

The six decades between Frederick Jackson Turner’s 1893 declaration of the end of the American Frontier and John F. Kennedy’s commitment to a “New Frontier” of outer space mark a unique period of American mobility and exploration. Without a western frontier to conquer or space exploration fully conceivable, what indeed would a nation Turner characterizes by its continual demand for a wider field of exercise do? If the dominant fact of American history is movement, where would one go? The development of an interstate highway system, the increasing popularity of automobile ownership, and the growth of a roadside culture over the first decades of the twentieth century suggest one answer: on the road.

In this course, we will consider the aftermath of the so-called “first age of American history” through the cultural and historical development and representation of road-tripping in the first half of the twentieth century, paying particular attention to its relation to the imaginative fictions of both Hollywood and national identity. Along the way, we'll consider questions like, how these decades between the closed frontier and the new one inform our current understanding of American movement and place. How does the experience of cross-country travel shape our understanding of national or regional identities? How did this period of frontierless movement transition into the Cold War space race of the latter half of the twentieth century? And what are its present-day legacies?

But the central aim of this course is to develop and refine critical thinking, reading, writing, and research skills. While we will continue to work on mechanics and style, the emphasis in the course will be on how to gather evidence, organize and support claims, engage secondary materials, and ultimately formulate well-researched and well-reasoned arguments for clear, persuasive essays. To that end, this course entails one short diagnostic essay (assigned during the first week of the semester) and three critical essays of increasing length, culminating in a final research paper (~10pgs). Students are also responsible for careful completion of all reading assignments as well as active participation in class discussion and peer review.


Reading & Composition: Quarrels with Ourselves

English R1B

Section: 3
Instructor: Emerson, Maude
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Hacker, Diana: Rules for Writers, 6th edition ; Hass, Robert (ed.): Song of Myself and Other Poems by Walt Whitman; Larsen, Nella: Passing; Nabokov, Vladimir: Lolita;

Recommended: Yeats, W.B.: The Collected Poems

Other Readings and Media

A course reader containing selections from W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Edgar Allan Poe, Wallace Stevens, Countee Cullen, and Derek Walcott, in addition to some secondary and critical materials

Description

“Out of our quarrels with others we make rhetoric. Out of our quarrels with ourselves we make poetry.” – W.B. Yeats

In this college writing course, we will study works of literature that record an author’s quarrels with his or herself. How do various literary genres accommodate different kinds of quarrels? What are the forces that can prevent a person from making up her mind? What does she stand to gain by sustaining ambivalence, and what does she risk losing? The authors we will read in this course find themselves divided on questions of love, identity, politics, and aesthetics. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which they give their dilemmas literary form, beginning with Yeats and the special status he claims for poetry before moving on to consider the essay, the story, and the novel. Through exploring the many modes of ambivalence, oscillation and indecision that literature can entertain, you will both hone your analytical skills and get acquainted with the language and structure of argument. You will practice using both of these skill sets, the analytical and the argumentative, in a number of essays and other writing assignments. This course also provides an introduction to research skills. At least one of the papers (and several of the shorter assignments) will ask you to find and evaluate secondary sources and incorporate them gracefully into your writing.


Reading & Composition: The Cold War and American Art

English R1B

Section: 4
Instructor: Rahimtoola, Samia Shabnam
Time: MWF 3-4
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Baldwin, James: Giovanni's Room; Dick, Philip K.: The Man in the High Castle; O'Hara, Frank: Meditations in an Emergency

Other Readings and Media

A course reader will be required for the course.

Description

National security, the nuclear family, racial tensions, and rampant consumerism mark the early years of the Cold War in the United States.  In this course, we will examine the cultural influence of the Cold War context on American literature, with a specific eye towards the production and policing of social deviance.  At the same time, we will pay attention to the ways in which Cold War politics and technologies, such as eavesdropping, the aerial view, and other surveillance technologies, impacted artistic forms.  Specific works include excerpts from Brown vs. the Board of Education, Frank O’Hara’s Meditations in an Emergency, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, P.K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, and Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece.

In this course, you will develop your critical reading and writing skills through frequent, short assignments and longer papers.  Although writing a research paper can seem like a paralyzing task, this class will guide you through pre-writing, research, drafts and revisions to build up to a research-length paper.  We will spend significant time honing research skills through in-class activities, daily assignments, and longer research papers.  Class time will also be devoted to developing analytical, argumentative, and verbal skills to construct more sustained arguments than those the student may have encountered in R1A.  Cumulatively, you will produce at least 32 pages of writing.

 


Reading & Composition: Adventures of the Unheroic: A Hero’s Journey in Fourteenth-Century Poetry

English R1B

Section: 5
Instructor: Crosson, Chad Gregory
Time: MWF 3-4
Location: 103 Wheeler


Book List

Booth, W.: The Craft of Research; Borroff, M.: The Gawain Poet: Complete Works; Esolen, A.: Inferno; Fitzgerald, R.: The Aeneid; Mandelbaum, A.: The Aeneid of Virgil

Other Readings and Media

Course Reader

Description

Narrow escapes, displays of prowess, and confrontations that end in triumph tend to typify the heroic in popular culture, whether in action films or graphic novels.  Although some contributions to these genres may at times complicate this portrayal, one needs only to mention films like Die Hard or the Matrix to convey popular expectations of the hero.  The subject of this course is fourteenth-century poetry with its display of, as some have put it, the unheroic; that is, besides lacking depictions of heroic action, this poetry creates the image of a humbled and weakened man.  As we read the poetry from this period, we will consider this unheroic image in some of the following ways: Does this poetry depict an unheroic man, or is the heroic ideal significantly altered from classical literature?  How do we approach questions of morality in an “unheroic” literary milieu?

We will begin this discussion by looking at examples of the hero in classical literature before moving into late fourteenth-century English poetry.  These literary works will form the basis of your practice in critical reading, and they will also form the subject of your papers.  Although much of our class discussion will revolve around the books we are reading, a significant portion of the course will focus on writing and research.  You will compose a series of short reading response papers that will be developed into a ten-page research paper.  


Reading & Composition: "The Play's the Thing": Literature as Make-Believe

English R1B

Section: 6
Instructor: Xin, Wendy Veronica
Time: TTh 8-9:30
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Austen, Jane: Northanger Abbey; Barrie, J. M.: Peter Pan; Bronte, Charlotte: Villette; James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw; McEwan, Ian: Atonement; Shakespeare, William: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Other Readings and Media

del Toro, Guillermo: Pan's Labyrinth (2006); Nolan, Christopher: The Prestige (2006)

Description

Course Description: Make-believe has an astonishing ability to register itself as fantasy, diversion, duplicity, therapy, etc. This course will introduce students to methods of close reading, argumentative writing, scholarly research, and critical thinking through an exploration of texts that pivot around the idea of play-acting. Our readings suggest that there is a magical property to the deed of literally making belief, a conjuring act of creation. They allow us to muse not only on conscious fictions taken in their most literal sense (i.e. magicians’ sleights of hand or fantasy in The Prestige and Pan’s Labyrinth) but also in their various incarnations as narrative trickery, suspense, or generic experimentation (as in Villette or Atonement). We will consider more broadly how fiction constitutes itself as a form of private amusement and/or public entertainment but also as a more serious meditation on the value of fact and history. What relationship does illusion have to truth? Is fiction ever “truthful”? To what extent do the related tasks of performing, pretending, playing, and lying intersect? How do these texts bewitch their readers into indulging in similar systems of belief?

While we will spend a good deal of class time puzzling over the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of the selected texts, we will also focus on strengthening analytical, argumentative, and expository techniques. With this in mind, students will build upon skills gained in R1A, honing their writing and research through diagnostic essays, outlines, drafts, annotated bibliographies, and revisions, all of which will culminate in a final research paper.


Reading & Composition: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in the Long 20th Century

English R1B

Section: 7
Instructor: Richards, Jill
Time: TTh 8-9:30
Location: 109 Wheeler


Book List

Bolano, Roberto: By Night in Chile; Coetzee, Joseph: Waiting for the Barbarians; Collins, Suzanne: The Hunger Games; Conrad, Joseph: The Secret Agent; Lewis, Wyndham: BLAST 1; Satrapi, Marjane: The Complete Persepolis

Other Readings and Media

A course reader will include selections from Edmund Burke, Karl Marx, Arthur Rimbaud, Louise Michel, Kristin Ross, Janet Lyon, Emma Goldman, F.T. Marinetti, Mina Loy, Andre Breton, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Langston Hughes, W.H. Auden, Assata Shakur, and Giorgio Agamben. Films include Man With a Movie Camera dir. Dziga Vertov, Pan’s Labyrinth dir. Guillermo del Toro, and District Nine dir. Neil Blomkamp. 

Description

In "Modernity and Revolution," Perry Anderson begins with a periodizing claim, arguing that “the haze of social revolution drifting across the horizon of this epoch gave it much of its apocalyptic light for those currents of modernism most unremittingly and violently radical in their rejection of the social order as a whole.” This class will take a closer look at these strains of modernism, beginning in revolutionary France and continuing into the Arab Spring. Moving across prose poems, detective stories, manifestos, agitprop posters, cinema, and the graphic novel, we will look at the way these works speak through and for moments of historical rupture. We will ask ourselves: How can a text tell a historical story? What is the difference between fiction and history? How might a given way of telling a story take sides in a larger conflict?  

To this end, we will think about the formal choices an author makes: Why write a character as flat or round? Why break the poetic line at any given point? Why use a really long sentence or a really short sentence? Why rhyme or not rhyme? What do these choices do?  In class we will disagree, agree, persuade, and generally wander in and around these materials to better understand how they work. These conversations will provide a model for what literary arguments can look like. A portion of the class will be spent working on the writing skills you need to convey such arguments clearly and effectively.  This section of the course will be geared towards creating an original, argumentative thesis, organizing a paper, and avoiding common grammatical mistakes. The writing assignments for the course will include one short diagnostic paper and two longer papers that combine analysis of primary texts with research from secondary sources. Much of this writing will pass through a process of drafting, peer workshop, and revision.


Reading & Composition: Fictions of the Human

English R1B

Section: 8
Instructor: Gaydos, Rebecca
Time: TTh 11-12:30
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Burroughs, William S.: The Ticket That Exploded; Coetzee, J.M.: The Lives of Animals; Dick, Philip K.: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go

Other Readings and Media

Course reader including selections from René Descartes, F. T. Marinetti, Alan Turing, Andy Warhol, Jackson Mac Low, Donna Haraway, Katherine Hayles, Paul Virilio, and Andy Clark.

Film: Blade Runner

Description

What constitutes our humanness? Are thinking and language-use uniquely human capacities or can intelligence be attributed to animals and machines? Is it possible to conceive of a timeless definition of the human being, or is human identity periodically reconfigured by historical and technological developments? Against the background of these broad questions, this course will pay close attention to the role that literature plays in investigating the significance of humanness in the 20th and 21st centuries. Topics to be considered include: literary representations of human-animal-machine continuums, cyborg subjectivity, the relationship between disability studies and technoscience, and debates around posthumanism, transhumanism, and prosthetic enhancement.  Rather than simply looking at how literary texts represent these topics thematically, we will focus on how authors engage these issues through formal experimentation.

The primary goal of this course is to improve your academic writing. Students will develop their analytic and argumentative skills—both in writing and verbally through intensive class discussion. The semester will culminate with each student producing an 8-10 page research paper.


Reading & Composition: Yes: Fragmentary Literature

English R1B

Section: 9
Instructor: Acu, Adrian Mark
Time: TTh 3:30-5
Location: 51 Evans


Book List

Doolittle, Hilda: Trilogy; Jones, David: In Parenthesis; Riley, John: Selected Poems; Vonnegut, Kurt: Slaughterhouse Five; Woolf, Virginia: To the Lighthouse

Description

The work of the critic is often thought of as constructing a “yes” out of a “no”: of making meaning out of textual problems.  In order to better align the critic with the writer, this class will work with 20th century texts that do the same.  How can the work of interpretation be done in the wake of the multiple instantiations of its failure—such as the World Wars—while convincingly avoiding nihilism?

Like these authors, we will work towards integrating your own original thinking with the critical discourse around your interests through a series of writing exercises and peer-review.


Reading & Composition: Writing and Controversy

English R1B

Section: 10
Instructor: Rodal, Jocelyn
Time: TTh 3:30-5
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness; Ginsberg, Allen: Howl and Other Poems; Hacker, Diana: Rules for Writers; Hemingway, Ernest: The Sun Also Rises; Nabokov, Vladimir: Lolita; Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway

Description

How do we approach writing that seeks to alienate us?  How can we understand books whose characters refuse to understand each other?  How should we react when confronted with art so offensive that understanding seems unethical? 

This course examines controversy in and around literary texts to more broadly understand how argument and disagreement operate in writing.  We will read texts about controversy (conflict between characters) as well as texts that generate controversy (conflict between readers).  Along the way, some of the most loaded issues of contemporary society will arise, including racism, war, and sexual violence.  Confronted with views alien to their own, students will consider when mutual understanding is possible as well as when conflict may be preferable to compromise.

A careful contemplation of argument and disagreement will fuel your ability to craft your own written arguments, and the primary aim of this course is to teach writing and composition.  Through close reading, we will marshal evidence to support and communicate our respective viewpoints.  You will use original research to develop progressively longer papers as the semester progresses, ultimately completing 32 pages of writing in drafts as well as revisions.

 


Reading & Composition: Belief

English R1B

Section: 11
Instructor: Kolb, Margaret
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Austen, Jane: Northanger Abbey; Scott, Sir Walter: Waverley; Shakespeare, William: Othello; Walpole, Horace: The Castle of Otranto

Description

What constitutes belief, and how and why do we believe what we do? What kinds of belief attend to particular genres -- to fictional text, editorial, article, or essay? What makes a convincing (or “believable”) essay, and to what extent is such convincing in accord with, or subservient to the constraints and expectations associated with the essay form? In this course, we will explore historically shifting conceptions of evidence and proof over the modern period alongside various explanations of the kinds of belief that attend to particular forms (including, for example, Coleridge’s explanation of the “suspension of disbelief” that fiction entails). Substantial readings include selections from the Bible, Shakespeare’s Othello, Pascal’s Pensees, David Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature, Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Samuel Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria, and Walter Scott’s Waverley, but we’ll also attend to articles and editorials of a wide variety of genres (including mathematical arguments) to consider these questions thoughtfully in our conversations and in our writing. Written assignments will include bi-weekly short assignments (1-2 pages) and revisions, culminating in a longer research essay on a topic of your choosing.


Reading & Composition: Labyrinths of Language

English R1B

Section: 12
Instructor: Moore, Stephanie Anne
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location: 223 Wheeler


Book List

Auster, Paul: The New York Trilogy; Borges, Jorge Luis: Labyrinths; Bunyan, John: Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners: Or Brief Faithful Relation Exceeding Mercy God Christ his Poor Servant John ; Conrad, Joseph: Typhoon and Other Tales; Satrapi, Marjane: The Sigh; Shakespeare, William: King Lear; Shakespeare, William: Othello; Sophocles: Sophocles I: Oedipus The King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone ; Toomer, Jean: Cane

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings--including lyric poetry, essays and short fiction--will be posted on bSpace. We'll also watch a film, Memento (dir. Christopher Nolan), and possibly some film adaptations of the plays we're reading.

Description

Words, when they are well-behaved, are supposed to do our bidding. We trust them to contain our thoughts and mediate our relationships with each another without asserting their own agency or being. But Western literature is full of stories in which words control us. We’ll be reading a variety of works in which human beings are at the mercy of language in one way or another, and we’ll be using that (very loose) theme to think about the practice of interpretation and about our own writing. This class is designed to help you improve as a writer, critical thinker, and attentive reader; its other goal is to introduce you to basic research methods. We will talk a lot about how to situate our work inside larger conversations, so that you’ll not only be developing your own interpretations of the texts we read, but you’ll also be evaluating the interpretations of others.

(Note: not all of the works listed will end up on the syllabus.)


Reading & Composition: Hip-hop and American Culture

English R1B

Section: 13
Instructor: Lee, Seulghee
Time: TTh 3:30-5
Location: 221 Wheeler


Book List

Algarin, Miguel et al., eds.: Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe; Baraka, Amiri: The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader; Beatty, Paul: The White Boy Shuffle; Diaz, Junot: Drown; Hoch, Danny: Jails, Hospitals, & Hip-hop/Some People; Mansbach, Adam: Angry Black White Boy; Reed, Ishmael, ed.: From Totems to Hip-hop; Sapphire: Push

Other Readings and Media

Also a course packet including readings by Adam Bradley, Paul Gilroy, Dick Hebdige, Robin D. G. Kelley, Charles Olson, Tricia Rose, and Cornel West; Wayne Booth, et. al, The Craft of Research; Diane Hacker, Rules for Writers.

Description

In a typical college class on hip-hop, you might expect to investigate the history and sociology of this complex cultural movement, beginning in the South Bronx with DJ Kool Herc and the transformation of household appliance into musical instrument. This course aims to do the opposite: beginning by asking how hip-hop matters--or doesn't--in American culture today, we will aim to trace hip-hop's influence on and imbrication with our current lived experience. Is Nas right to claim, as long ago as 2006, that hip-hop is dead? In order to answer this question we will consider thinkers on the black vernacular tradition, on the use of everyday speech in/as poetry, and on what we mean by "culture." Literary figures to explore together include Amiri Baraka, Paul Beatty, Claude Brown, Junot Diaz, Ishmael Reed, and Sapphire. Rap artists we may discuss include Jay-Z, Kanye West, Missy Elliott, The Notorious B.I.G., OutKast, and Tupac Shakur. Along the way , we may also examine non-literary artists such as Dave Chappelle, William Cordova, Savion Glover, Brian Jungen, Spike Lee, and Katt Williams.

We will develop authorial and critical voices of our own in both discussion and writing. In addition to shorter exercises in argumentative and research-based writing, you will turn in two essays, the longer of which will incorporate secondary sources on a research topic of your own design. You will revise both essays, and we will conclude the semester with brief presentations on your research topic.