Announcement of Classes: Spring 2013

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 and Composition: Black and Yellow: Contemporary African American and Asian American Writing

English R1A

Section: 1
Instructor: Lee, Seulghee
Time: MWF 10-11
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Baker, K.: Nat Turner; Butler, O.: Bloodchild and Other Stories; Hong, C.P.: Dance Dance Revolution; Lu, P: Pamela: A Novel; Mullen, H.: Sleeping With The Dictionary; O'Hara, R.: Insurrection: Holding History; Parks, S-L.: Topdog/Underdog; Tomine, A.: Shortcomings; Truong, M.: The Book of Salt; Yau, J.: Ing Grish

Description

Regrettably, despite the title, this course is not about Wiz Khalifa or the city of Pittsburgh. But channeling Mr. Khalifa, we too will aim to "know what it is" by way of developing thinking habits that "do it big." Specifically, we will discuss black and yellow American writing of the last twenty years. Sampling fiction, plays, and poetry of the very-contemporary period, we will address what the latest inheritors of these two literary traditions have in common, as well as where and how they diverge. Questions we might ask together include: what does a rubric of "ethnicity" permit in and preclude from literary content? What are the relationships traceable between racial identities and literary forms? How have writers addressed both the fiction of "race" alongside the all-too-realness of its lived experience? Authors we might read together include Kyle Baker, Octavia Butler, Cathy Park Hong, David Wong Louie, Pamela Lu, Nathaniel Mackey, Harryette Mullen, Robert O’Hara, Suzan-Lori Parks, Adrian Tomine, Monique Truong, and John Yau. Along the way, we may also discuss cultural figures at the intersection of these racial formations, including Das Racist, Vijay Iyer, Yuri Kochiyama, Jeremy Lin, Miya Masaoka, and the Wu-Tang Clan.  


Reading and Composition: How to Read "How to Read Poetry"

English R1A

Section: 2
Instructor: Acu, Adrian Mark
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Eagleton, Terry: How to Read a Poem; Polonsky, Mark: The Poetry Reader's Toolkit: A Guide to Reading and Understanding Poetry; Pound, Ezra: ABC Of Reading; Vendler, Helen: Poems, Poets, Poetry; Zukofsky, Louis: A Test of Poetry

Description

1. The class title is not a typo.

2. Poetry is often considered to be the least self-explanatory form of literature.

3. Expositions on poetry often offer only limited aid.

Though one must accept the first two points if one is going to take this class, I hope to spend the semester exploring the third point.

How many of you were first taught to read poetry according to how it made you feel? Or by comparing poems to a list of poetic techniques? How many of you felt as if these tutorials either cultivated a taste for poetry, or prepared you to actually read poetry?

In this class, we will consider why attempts to teach poetry often fail by studying guidebooks that claim to teach students how to read poetry and anthologies by thinkers and poets curated to provide a poetic education. We will consider their approaches to reading as well as what poems they choose in order to ascertain their projects' agendas. By juxtaposing these differing perspectives on what poetry does - and what to do with it - we will come to understand how the poem's attractiveness might be tied to how unsettled our sense of it is.

After a short diagnostic essay, you will write 3 papers of increasing length while going through a peer-review process to better acclimate yourself to critical writing. 


Reading and Composition: The Bonds of Taste

English R1A

Section: 3
Instructor: Weiner, Joshua J
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 122 Latimer


Other Readings and Media

All course materials will be circulated electronically.

Description

What does it mean to cultivate “good taste” for oneself? What sorts of social relationships happen when we judge someone else’s taste or recognize through their appreciations a kindred spirit? How is taste learned and taught? Our course will be framed around the eighteenth-century critical texts that first took up taste as a key social problem. We will tackle very short works in three clusters: the first writers who argued taste could be a foundation for polite culture after 1700 (Addison and Shaftesbury), the group of writers around 1750 who produced the key mature statements about taste (Burke and Hume), and the writers around 1800 who looked away from taste as a way to understand the social life of artworks (Kant and Schiller). Each of these moments will be paired with works that will illustrate the theories (for example the poetry of Milton and Pope), test and complicate these theories (the engravings of Hogarth and the opera of Handel), and discover which social figures they helped construct (from the “fop” in Restoration drama to the “snob” in Proust). As we work through these materials, we will think about issues like the rise and persistence of consumer culture, the policing of class and gender through tacit judgment, and style as a social practice of selfhood. Frequent writing assignments will stimulate you to both cultivate your analytical skills and reflect on how aesthetic judgments bond you to yourself and to others.


Reading and Composition: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Representations of Numbers in 19th-Century Literature

English R1A

Section: 4
Instructor: Kolb, Margaret
Time: MW 4-5:30
Location: 205 Wheeler


Book List

Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone; Dickens, Charles: Hard Times; Hardy, Thomas: Jude the Obscure; Shelley, Mary: The Last Man; Wordsworth, William, and STC Coleridge: Lyrical Ballads;

Recommended: Eliot, George: The Lifted Veil

Other Readings and Media

We'll also look at Arthur Conan Doyle's short stories, primary statistical texts by Quetelet, Galton, and others, selections from Henry Thomas Buckle’s History of Civilization in England, and a variety of relevant critical articles. These texts will be distributed in class. 

Description

“In this life we want nothing but Facts, sir, nothing but Facts,” Thomas Gradgrind infamously insists in Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times. “Facts” accumulated in the 19th century as never before. As statistics took disciplinary shape, an ever-broadening bureaucracy produced table after table – charting everything from population growth to the square of the minimum temperature necessary for lilacs to bloom in the spring. Literary representations of the numerical repeatedly interrogate such numerical representations, asking what counts as a fact, and why it might do so – a question to which we’ll attend carefully as we read a variety of literary and historical texts focused on numbers, evidence, and statistical representation. We’ll discuss how numbers and words inform and resist one another, how statistical evidence gets marshaled and/or repurposed in narrative, and how the texts under examination imagine themselves as participants in the scientific community.

As participants in our own academic community, we’ll want to consider similar questions for our writing: what evidence, and how much of it, should we employ in our arguments? What counts as a “fact” in literary analysis? In writing about literary texts, how can we offer responsible samplings of textual evidence? We’ll respond to these and other questions via weekly two-page writing assignments, interspersed with revisions of four or more pages in length.

 


Reading and Composition: Big Novels

English R1A

Section: 5
Instructor: Ling, Jessica
Time: TTh 8-9:30
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Dickens, Charles: Bleak House; Eliot, George: Middlemarch; Eliot, George: Selected Essays, Poems, and Other Writings

Other Readings and Media

Additional articles and secondary sources in a course reader posted on b-space.

Description

Around the mid-nineteenth century, novels--like the British populace that wrote them--began to increase in size. Those peculiar and numerous Victorians were as famous for their queen as they were for their massive, unwieldy novels. In this class, we will tackle two great ones, vastly different in orientation, but similarly vast in their worlds, plots, characters and page count. We’ll witness the novel at the height of its “bigness”, a “bigness” that inspired Henry James’s vexed question, “ what do such large, loose, baggy monsters, with their queer elements of the accidental and the arbitrary, artistically mean?.” By way of asking what these novels mean, we will consider their relationship to particular social and cultural worlds, the evolution of the novel as a literary form, and more contemporary theorizations of the novel. As we develop papers of increasing length and complexity, we will ask what it means to write long things, and what can be gained from reading them.

This class seeks to hone writing skills, with particular attention to exposition and argument. In addition to weekly readings, a series of short writing assignments and longer analytic essays will be assigned. We’ll refine these essays through a combination of workshops and individual conferences.  All students are welcome, though avid readers and early risers are especially encouraged.


Reading and Composition: note new topic: Autobiography

English R1A

Section: 6
Instructor: Beck, Rachel
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 107 Mulford


Book List

Bechdel, Alison: Fun Home; Douglass, Frederick: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; Lunsford, Andrea: The Everyday Writer; Terkel, Studs: Working

Other Readings and Media

Brief additional readings posted on bspace.

Description

James Frey’s memoir A Million Little Pieces, which chronicled the author’s horrific past, created a sensation among readers for its gripping treatment of addiction. But the book caused a far greater sensation when The Smoking Gun, checking police records against the claims Frey made in the memoir, determined that he “had wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his criminal career.” Frey and his publisher were eventually sued for fraud by readers for selling fiction as fact—for violating a convention of genre.

In this course we will set out a provisional definition of autobiography and its conventions, one we will complicate as we read texts that play with those conventions. Some questions we will consider: How do cultural norms influence the self one is able to represent in writing? What happens when another self is at the center of the writing? What does self-presentation look like in a work that is filled with many selves (e.g., a collection of oral histories)? How does autobiography employ elements of fiction? And given that elements of fiction are present in autobiography, what’s the relationship between fiction and nonfiction? What difference does it make if a story is true?

Like all R1A sections, this class is designed to develop the reading, analytical, discussion, and writing skills that will help you understand others’ ideas and articulate your own responses. To reinforce the critical reading and writing skills you are learning, we will regularly incorporate short in-class writing and revising exercises into class.


Reading and Composition: Special Friends

English R1A

Section: 7
Instructor: Shelley, Jonathan
Time: TTh 11-12:30
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Rossetti, Christina: Goblin Market; Shakespeare, William: A Midsummer Night's Dream; Shakespeare, William: Julius Caesar; Shakespeare, William: Two Gentlemen of Verona; Trimble, John R.: Writing with Style

Other Readings and Media

Selections from Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Plutarch, the Bible, Augustine of Hippo, Montaigne, Emerson, and others. The movie Thelma & Louise, possibly.

Description

This course will examine theories and depictions of friendship in a variety of philosophical and literary texts. What makes for a good friend? What circumstances are necessary for friendship to exist? What responsibilities does a friend have to another friend? What is the difference between friendship and romantic love? Is friendship between men the same as friendship between women? We will consider these and similar questions by reading dialogues, stories, and essays on friendship ranging from classical antiquity to the Bible to 19th-century America and will concentrate on the depiction of friendship in three English Renaissance plays—Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Julius Caesar—and the Victorian poem Goblin Market.

The primary goal of this class is to develop the skills for effective scholarly writing. We will use the works we encounter throughout the semester to read critically, gather evidence, formulate interesting arguments, and organize claims into persuasive essays. Over the course of the semester, students will produce several papers of varying length. These papers will be developed through a gradual process of outlining, drafting, editing, and revising.


Reading and Composition: "Work Hard, Play Hard": Work, Leisure, the Victorians and Us

English R1A

Section: 8
Instructor: Larner-Lewis, Jonathan
Time: TTh 12:30-2
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Dickens, C.: Great Expectations; Hardy, T.: The Return of the Native

Description

Work hard, play hard: it's the Berkeley way of life. 

But why do we work so hard? To get a job? To make money? To earn some leisure time? To give our lives meaning? We can shed light on all of these questions and many possible answers by studying an era distant from but strangely parallel to our own. Indeed, many of the kinds of work we do now, at the university and afterwards, and many of our own ways of thinking about work and leisure, came into being in the Victorian period. Certainly they came up for a lot of discussion. We will work over a series of texts (fiction, history, poetry and criticism) about work and leisure in order to spur our own thinking and writing around these issues.

At the same time we will work hard on our own writing, on how we construct sentences and paragraphs, and how we build arguments. Our assignments will progress through increasingly complex applications of these skills in academic discourse. We’ll write a short personal paper at the beginning of the semester, followed by three essays of increasing length, and make use of an extensive peer-review process. This will orient you to your audience, sharpen your critical skills, and improve your writing in the way only heavy revision can. No doubt: writing is hard work. (So why did many Victorians consider it a leisure activity?) 


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

English R1A

Section: 9
Instructor: Crosson, Chad Gregory
Time: TTh 2-3:30
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Borroff, Marie: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience, and Pearl; Esolen, Anthony: Inferno; Fitzgerald, Robert: The Aeneid; Mandelbaum, Allen: 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?  What does this image reveal about the goals and challenges of the protagonists in this literature? 

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 for 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 your writing.  Building from a series of short reading responses, drafts, and peer editing responses, you will compose 3 five-page essays.  Each of these essays will require you to craft and support a central argument as you use close literary analysis to explore the texts we will read.


Reading and Composition: Aspiring Minds and Expelling Bodies: A Brief Survey of Satire

English R1A

Section: 10
Instructor: Jeziorek, Alek M
Time: TTh 3:30-5
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Happy Days; Conrad, Josef: The Secret Agent; Flaubert, Gustav: Bouvard and Pécuchet; More, Thomas: Utopia; Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver's Travels; Waugh, Evelyn: Vile Bodies

Other Readings and Media

"A Modest Proposal," by Jonathan Swift; Selections from "Wild Body" by Wyndham Lewis

Description

As the first course in the Reading and Composition series, this class will work to develop your ability to read and write critically. To that end, this class requires that you write several short essays of increasing length and sophistication as well as other shorter writing assignments. In order to help you succeed, we’ll focus on reading closely, asking great questions, developing effective arguments, organizing paragraphs in structured and meaningful ways, and revising drafts.

Satire will frame our reading for the semester. We will explore satire’s vexed status as an ethical, political, and moral “corrective,” which almost always assumes the guise of the very thing it aims to critique. Satire seems to enjoy vice before it lampoons it. Our response, laughter, is, of course, a pleasant reaction of the body, but it implicates our own enjoyment of vice, too. While satire seems to tend asymptotically toward utopia, or the ideal, it constantly trips over bodies.  As we progress in our survey, we’ll begin to question our assumptions about satire and study it as a strange constellation of utopia and dystopia, the ideal and bodily, the good and the cruel. We might address the following questions. How does satire actually relate to those serious categories—ethics, politics and morality? Is satire ultimately conservative or subversive? Is satire serious and, if so, how do we ultimately relate its ridiculous methods to this high seriousness? Why are our bodies funny and why do they matter?


Reading and Composition: Eros in Shakespeare

English R1A

Section: 11
Instructor: Castillo, Carmen
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Hacker, Diana: Rules for Writers; Shakespeare: Anthony & Cleopatra; Shakespeare: As You Like It; Shakespeare: Macbeth; Shakespeare: Othello; Shakespeare: Twelfth Night

Description

In this course we will read some of Shakespeare’s works and look at the aesthetics of Eros. We will read Shakespeare with an eye toward how Eros is represented: as a figure (the god of love), as “love” in the most spiritual sense to the bawdiest sense, in the reproductive sense and in the sense of the harmonizing force in Shakespeare’s art. In this course we will read one of Shakespeare’s long poems, some sonnets and five plays focusing on the reading experience as a way to track literary devices at play and as a way to generate fresh and compelling assertions and arguments about these works.

The goals of this course are to have fun, to explore, to learn to read closely, to develop increasing skills in clear writing, thesis and paragraph development, and argumentation. We will engage deeply with the texts, discuss them feverishly in class, and write a number of short essays, including revisions, toward the general goal of producing well-shaped and polished critical essays.


Reading and Composition: What Is Enlightenment?

English R1B

Section: 1
Instructor: Mangin, Sarah
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

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

Recommended: Hacker, Diana: A Writer's Reference, 7th edition

Other Readings and Media

A course reader

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 and cognition in the Internet age. 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, the paintings of Jacques-Louis David—all of which debate the nature of humanity and citizenship. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein 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. In the final portion of the course, each student will investigate a topic that brings the themes of our readings into new focus and write a research paper. While we might not answer definitively the question of the course title, our task is that of transmuting “enlightenment” into essay form—into the convincing presentation of your discoveries.


Reading and Composition: The Poetry of the Past

English R1B

Section: 2
Instructor: Garcia, Marcos Albert
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Chaucer, Geoffrey: Troilus & Criseyde; Homer: Iliad (tr. Fagles); Lydgate, John: Troy Book- Selections; Shakespeare, William: Troilus and Cressida; Virgil: Aeneid (tr. Fagles)

Description

The objects of study in this course are ancient, medieval, and early modern poems that not only describe past events, but in doing so also formulate specific and often surprising conceptions of the past through the manipulation of poetic form.  We will reflect simultaneously on the aesthetic effect of these poems and on their valence in the social, political, and material contexts in which they were produced and reproduced.  Our goal will be to trace form's change or endurance over time, as well as to understand the meaning and effect of specific formal conventions and the particular conceptions of the past they generate.  Since our topic spans the concerns of both historicist and formalist literary criticism, we will also spend some time learning and applying the reading and research practices of each “school.”  The primary readings for the course will be historical poems that take up the matter of Troy, supplemented by secondary readings on the history and form of individual works, as well as essays and articles on the historicist and formalist methodologies.


Reading and Composition: Representative Men

English R1B

Section: 3
Instructor: Dumont, Alex
Time: MWF 10-11
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Forster, E.M.: Howard's End; Gaskell, Elizabeth: Cranford; Thackeray, William Makepeace: Barry Lyndon; Wordsworth, William and Coleridge, Samuel Taylor: Lyrical Ballads

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings will be posted to bSpace, and will include works by Henry James, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Carlyle, Francis Galton, and others.

Description

This class, which takes its title from a series of lectures by Ralph Waldo Emerson, will examine one of the most basic questions of literature—about whom should we write?—and consider the ways in which this seemingly simple question is not simple at all. Should the subjects of literature be extraordinary, or should they be average? And how, in fact, would we decide what an average person or experience is? Are there certain types of people (poets? workers? residents of the city or the country?) who are somehow more representative than others? We will also think about the ways in which certain texts are seen as representative of a genre, a time-period, or an author’s body of work.

This class is designed to further develop your reading and writing skills, and broaden the scope of your essays to include research. It should also help you to think about your work as part of a larger conversation; one that includes literary criticism, history, and writing in the sciences. To this end, much of our class will be devoted to learning how to make sense of what others have written about a text, and how to respond thoughtfully to these other writers—skills that should serve you well whether your major is in or outside of the humanities.

 


Reading and Composition: “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I feel fine)”

English R1B

Section: 4
Instructor: Lee, Sookyoung (Soo)
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Kafka, Franz: Amerika: The Missing Person; Melville, Herman: Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life; Spark, Muriel: Memento Mori; Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver's Travels; Williams, Joseph: Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace

Other Readings and Media

A course reader with the following materials: Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798); Didion, “Slouching towards Bethlehem” (1968); Dostoevsky, “The Grand Inquisitor” chapter from The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80); selections from First World War poetry; selections from Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 (1962).

Description

“But the age of chivalry is gone—That of sophisters, oeconomists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever,” laments the political thinker Edmund Burke upon seeing Marie-Antoinette’s head chopped off. “From the response of the nation, revealed through its culture, you would have thought that death had been invented on November 22, 1963. And for that culture, it indeed had,” observes the sociologist David Reisman in an essay written a month after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. An individual life speaks for the vitality of a collective. In turn, a nation, a culture or a time period is understood and talked about as an organic form, living, growing, decaying and dying. By what process does a phenomenon take on its inevitable, ironic character within the larger historical narrative? To put it differently and bluntly, how do we recognize when an era begins and ends, when the world as we’ve known it dissipates in anticipation of a world we’ve yet to know? “Be not afeard,” the brave monster Caliban assures the shipwrecked visitors:

The isle is full of noises,

Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments

Will hum about mine ears, and sometimes voices

That, if I then had waked after long sleep,

Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,

The clouds methought would open and show riches

Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked

I cried to dream again. (The Tempest. III.ii. 137-145)

The texts in this course will show us, shipmasters and boatswains stranded and lost, the strange and surprisingly familiar imaginings of new and old worlds; tell us about the anxiety of discovery and of world-weariness; and bring us into experiences as foreign as they are intimately within. You will be asked to choose a text early on and sustain an ongoing research project throughout the semester. You will present your research writing in two stages, a preliminary proposal (5-7 pages) with an oral presentation and a final paper (10-12 pages) with at least two critical sources.


Reading and Composition: Indecision

English R1B

Section: 5
Instructor: Ty, Michelle
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Eugenides, Jeffrey: Middlesex; Euripedes: Oresteia; Kafka, Franz: Parables and Paradoxes; Plato: Crito; Shakespeare, William: Hamlet; Walser, Robert: Selected Stories; Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway

Other Readings and Media

Film: Kurosawa's Rashomon

Available in a course reader:

Stein, "An Elucidation"; selected poetry of Dickinson, Yeats, and Eliot; Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener"; and selected photographs by Claude Cahun.

And selections from the following: Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Scepticism; Descartes's Discourse on Method; Goncharov's Oblomov; Carl Schmitt's The Concept of the Political; Kierkegaard's Either/Or; Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics; I Ching; Freud's Ego and the Id and "The Uncanny"; Cartier-Bresson's "The Decisive Moment"; Derrida's Politics of Friendship; Breton's Nadja.

NOTE:  The books will be available at University Press Bookstore on Bancroft Ave.

Description

This course will ask its students to take up a strangely double task: to practice how to craft an argument—how to take a position in writing—while spending time reflecting on what it means to be, and to remain, undecided.  

We will begin by examining various incarnations of indecision in classical philosophy—in the antique traditions of skepticism and stoicism, and in Aristotle’s suggestion that decision is “the principle of action.”  In addition to considering how indecision might be lamented as a tragic flaw—a feature opposed to the strength and valor of the decisive act—we will explore how the experience of being undecided later comes to be associated with, if not partly constitutive of, modern subjectivity itself, with special attention to Hamlet’s famous bout of inaction and existentialism’s insistence that freedom is exercised through (semi-sovereign) choice.

In the latter part of the course, we will mull over indecision within the context of a whole host of related concepts, including psychic ambivalence; literary ambiguity; gender indeterminacy and androgyny; as well as the accusation of “waffling” or “flip-flopping” that is now prevalent in contemporary political discourse.

We will also consider the implications of thinking about artistic form as the manifestation of decision-making, and following this, will inquire how artists have sought alternatives to the imperative of choice—for instance, in the deliberate practice of leaving things to chance.

Requirements for the course include the following: one two-page response paper at the semester's beginning; an in-class presentation, relevant to the selected week's readings, which will become the basis for a 2-page paper, due the following week; one paper, 3-5 pages, which will be revised; annotated bibliography; one-page research paper prospectus; a final research paper, 8-10 pages.


Reading and Composition: Early American Literature - Pessimism and Unease

English R1B

Section: 6
Instructor: Junkerman, Nicholas
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Brown, Charles Brockden: Wieland; Crevecour, J. Hector St. John de: Letters from an American Farmer; Rowson, Susanna: Charlotte Temple

Other Readings and Media

A course reader featuring 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?

As we explore these issues, we will also be working to develop tools and strategies for effective reading, writing and research.  This will take place alongside and in dialogue with the works that we encounter throughout the semester.  Students will write several papers, including a final research paper.  We will take the longer papers through the crucial stages of drafting and revision, a process which will include peer review sessions and meetings with the instructor.           


Reading and Composition: The English of France

English R1B

Section: 7
Instructor: Perry, R. D.
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Waiting for Godot: Bilingual Edition; Chaucer, Geoffrey: Dream Visions and Other Poems; Gower, John: The French Balades; Shakespeare, William: Henry V

Other Readings and Media

Additional primary readings on b-space from John Gower, Thomas Hoccleve, John Lydgate, Christine de Pizan, and someone who may be Geoffrey Chaucer.  Secondary material also on b-space by James Simpson, D. Vance Smith, Ardis Butterfield, Fredric Jameson, Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, and Hannah Arendt.

Films: Carl Theodor Dreyer's Passion of Joan of Arc, Kenneth Branagh's Henry V, Laurence Olivier's Henry V, and Bela Tarr's The Man from London.

Description

To say that the English have a complicated relationship to their French neighbors is probably a bit of an understatement.  There has historically been a great deal of political cooperation between these two nations, but there has been a great deal of animosity and cultural chauvinism as well.  Part of the complexity springs from the fact that the two almost became one nation at several different points in their shared history.  This course will focus on the way that complex political and cultural relationship emerges in works of art.  In some instances, the works will be thematically interested in this relationship, and in other instances international politics will help shape the work’s formal characteristics.  Although we will be interested in the long historical development of this relationship, we will pay particular attention to the medieval period, especially those years during the Hundred Years War, the period where the difference between England and France is least distinct. 

So, international relations are the subject of our course, but not the work of the course.  The purpose of R1B is to focus on your writing, specifically in the form of research papers.  We will spend a lot of time in class talking about how one uses material of one sort (perhaps historical, or from political theory) to discuss work of another sort (literary, in this instance).  We will discuss the basics of research methods and how best to incorporate research into the shaping of an argument.  You will write 3 different papers over the course of the semester.


Reading and Composition: Ethnicizing America

English R1B

Section: 8
Instructor: Xiang, Sunny
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 89 Dwinelle


Book List

Diaz, Junot: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Great Gatsby; Hamid, Mohsin: The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Lee, Chang-rae: Native Speaker

Description

Why are we a “nation of immigrants”? What does it mean to possess “the audacity of hope”? How are we “post-race” but not post-ethnicity? This course examines the mythos of America through (mostly) contemporary literature. The form of Americaness at issue is one that has ostensibly eclipsed what W.E.B. Du Bois had deemed a twentieth-century problem – that is, the problem of the color line, or, put differently, of race. Through literary, historical, and critical texts, we will trace familiar themes – hard work, perseverance, opportunity, equality, and, of course, hope – with an especial focus on the potency of  “voice” as a political metaphor. To what extent can “one voice can change a room, . . .  a city, . . . a state, . . . a nation, and . . . the world” (to quote Barack Obama)? How do we read immigrant voices in relation to literary voices? What conditions influence our capacity as readers not only to listen to narratorial voices but also to trust and to heed them? In our approach to these inquiries, we will try to complicate the more general relationship between art and politics, text and context, and form and content.  

This course requires you to complete two essays, a research project, and short writing assignments and responses.  It will also guide you through a process of outlining, drafting, editing, and revising to build a repertoire of critical reading and writing skills.


Reading and Composition: This is Not Real.

English R1B

Section: 10
Instructor: Creasy, CFS
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 222 Wheeler


Book List

Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary; James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw & In the Cage; Johnson, B.S.: Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry;

Recommended: Churchill, Caryl: A Number; Duras, Marguerite: The Ravishing of Lol Stein

Other Readings and Media

A film screening to be determined.
 
A course reader that may include excerpts from Cervantes’s Don Quixote, short texts by Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, and Samuel Beckett, and theoretical excerpts from G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, and Georges Duthuit and Samuel Beckett.
 

Description

This is a course about a strange, perhaps essentially aesthetic form of experience. From daydreamers and romantics to addicts and the insane, these works confront us with figures whose experiences put in question any stable notion of reality. What do such experiences mean for our conception of literature, and our conception of something like a ‘real world’? And what if, instead of being exceptions, these experiences are instead the rule, or perhaps make it impossible to maintain the terms ‘exception’ and ‘rule’? In focusing on works drawn from the second half of the 19th century and from throughout the 20th, we will address with the ways in which these texts thematize and formalize problems of the real and the unreal—how they are about this relation, and how they somehow create the same problem anew for us in our experience of them.
 
Building on what you have already learned in the first of the Reading and Composition courses, this second course will use the questions that this material poses of us, as well as those we pose of it, to develop your critical reflection as well as your writing and research skills that will culminate in a larger research paper at the end of the semester. Our attention will be devoted in large part to approaching a research paper as a series of cumulative but individually small and manageable pieces. Supplementing the successively longer and successively more revised essays, these intermediate steps will include things like peer editing, an annotated bibliography, and a draft outline.


Reading and Composition: The Sonic Artifact

English R1B

Section: 11
Instructor: Le, Serena
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Shelley, Percy Bysshe: Prometheus Unbound; Wordsworth, William: Lyrical Ballads

Other Readings and Media

A course reader containing additional poems by Matthew Arnold, John Keats, Charlotte Smith, Shelley, Wordsworth, and Coleridge, essays by Arnold and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and excerpts from contemporary criticism in acoustics and ethnomusicology.

Listenings (including recordings of birdsong) available through library databases and other online resources.

Description

“How canst thou hear / Who knowest not the language of the dead?” This is the question Earth has for Prometheus in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound. Prometheus, inhabitant of the mortal world and not yet dead, should be deaf to Earth’s voice, which is the voice of all lived history, the sediment of nature and civilization turned to layers of planetary crust. Somehow, miraculously, Prometheus hears. Lacking similar miracles, how do we? This course is interested in sound as archaeology, in the crash of waves and the flutter of birdsong that become, in literature, a seeming portal to lost or absent time. From the poets of Romanticism, who insist on the quality of natural sound as that which allows them to hear through the ages, to modernist writers likewise predisposed, we will discuss sound as elusive object and persistent artifact, and the texts that, map-like, seem to bid us find it.

Written work for this course will consist of several essays of varying length, culminating in a research paper on a topic of the student’s own design. Students should expect to refine basic skills in researching and developing extended critical commentary.


Reading and Composition: Asian American Speculative Realism

English R1B

Section: 12
Instructor: Fan, Christopher Tzechung
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 223 Wheeler


Book List

Choi, Susan: A Person of Interest; Hong, Cathy Park: Dance, Dance, Revolution; Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go; Kingston, Maxine Hong: The Woman Warrior; Yu, Charles: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Description

Asian American literature hasn’t always gotten along with realism. As a literature read through the lens of ethnicity, it is saddled with the responsibility of realistically portraying ethnicity. Is Asian American realism therefore ultimately only about something called “Asian America?” This is the central question we will be dealing with in this course. In order to even begin formulating an answer, however, we must first answer some more fundamental questions. What is “Asian America?” Does such a thing exist? If so, when was it invented, and what purpose does it serve? What is “realism,” and what is the “reality” it purports to represent? As the title of this course indicates, we will be approaching this last question in a rather unconventional way: through the paradoxical figure of a speculative realism. Does realism always have to be about an actually existing or past reality? Or do the future and the imagination also constitute our reality in some important way?


Reading and Composition: Difficult Literature

English R1B

Section: 13
Instructor: Taylor, Bradford Alden
Time: MWF 3-4
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Barnes, Djuna: Nightwood; Eliot, T.S.: The Waste Land; Sebald, W.G.: The Rings of Saturn

Description

“Poets in our civilization, as it exists at present, must be difficult.” Or so thought T.S. Eliot in 1921. Whether poets must be difficult is an open question, but the fact is that a lot of what we call literature is not exactly easy to read. Strange words, incomprehensible characters, unnecessary scenes, inscrutable systems, irascible narrators: all of these things can be very frustrating, so why do we keep coming back for more? What about difficulty is enticing and important? Why can’t literature just tell it how it is? Why must literature be difficult?

This class will look at a range of poems and novels that are often considered difficult. We will tackle these texts with a combination of close reading skills, secondary literature, and a sense of humor. We will learn how being confused can be a good thing, and we will work together to clarify and channel this confusion into literary critical essays.


Reading and Composition: Revelation and Revision

English R1B

Section: 14
Instructor: O'Connor, Megan
Time: MW 4-5:30
Location: 104 Dwinelle


Book List

Austen, Jane: Persuasion; Douglass, Frederick: My Bondage and My Freedom; Hacker, Diana: Rules for Writers; Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet Letter; James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories; Melville, Herman: Billy Budd, Sailor and Selected Tales

Other Readings and Media

Course reader that may include shorter texts by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe, and Walt Whitman.

Description

“… now with the scales dropped from his eyes…”

-       Herman Melville, “Benito Cereno”

As an R&C course, this R1B course will continue to build on the writing practices developed in R1A.  As students further refine the skills of exposition and argumentation, this course will also focus on more complex and sustained arguments.  The writing assignments will be longer than in R1A and the papers will incorporate a research component. 

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 revelation and revision.  How do these texts present moments of understanding or flashes of insight?  What are the effects of such events in perception?  What kinds of relationships can we see between an individual revelation and one recognized by a larger community?  After a moment of insight, how do these texts present the transformation and interpretation of vision into memory or in the process of communicating the insight to others?  What kind of revision process might that moment of vision undergo?  How does literary form privilege or undermine vision as truth or, alternatively, present it as merely ostensible revelation?

Requirements

• 3-page diagnostic paper

• Research component to papers

• 16 pages each of preliminary drafts/revisions and final drafts


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

English R1B

Section: 15
Instructor: Richards, Jill
Time: TTh 8-9:30
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Bolaño, 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

Description

Hannah Arendt once claimed that the modern concept of revolution involves a sometimes mistaken sense of history beginning anew. For Arendt, this notion of a new day, of  “an entirely new story, a story never known or told before” is inevitably intertwined with revolutionary action, because revolutionary action must always confront the political problem of beginning anew. Though we will not always take Arendt at her word, this class will take a closer look at the stories of new days and new worlds that emerge amidst moments of political upheaval. Beginning in revolutionary France, we will travel through the long twentieth century, moving across anarchist cabals in turn of the century London, the Spanish Civil War, Pinochet’s counter-revolution in Chile, Iran’s White Revolution, and the Arab Spring. Through close readings of prose poems, detective stories, manifestos, agitprop posters, cinema, and the graphic novel, we will look at the way that literary forms speak through and for the moments of historical rupture that they take as their subject. We will ask: How does the imagination of a new day or new world necessitate new ways of saying and doing? Can a text take a clear stand as for or against? Would we want it to?

This class will focus on analyzing and writing about literary texts. 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 ask ourselves this question while moving through literary, cinematic, and historical texts. We will disagree, agree, persuade, and generally wander in and around these materials to better understand how they are put together. 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 in a full-length paper.  This section of the course will be geared toward honing your skills to create an original, argumentative thesis, organize a paper, incorporate secondary sources, and avoid common grammatical mistakes. Even if you are not an English major, this course should provide you with the foundational skills you will need in your future studies. 


Reading and Composition: “So this is Dyoublong?”: Reading Modern Ireland

English R1B

Section: 16
Instructor: Tazudeen, Rasheed
Time: TTh 9:30-11
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Waiting for Godot; Bowen, Elizabeth: The Last September; Enright, Anne: What Are You Like?; Harrington, John P.: Modern Irish Drama; Joyce, James: Dubliners; Wilde, Oscar: The Importance of Being Earnest

Other Readings and Media

Neil Jordan, The Crying Game (film); Ken Loach, The Wind that Shakes the Barley (film); Course Reader with selections from Samuel Beckett, Seamus Deane, Lady Augusta Gregory, Seamus Heaney, Douglas Hyde, Declan Kiberd, J.M. Synge, and W.B. Yeats.  All titles subject to change.

Description

James Joyce claimed in a 1907 lecture that “No one who has any self-respect stays in Ireland, but flees afar as though from a country that has undergone the visitation of an angered Jove.” Literary critic Declan Kiberd writes that the Irish in the early twentieth century “suffered from a homeless mind.”  As both a colony of England and an agent of the British Empire that participated in England’s colonial missions abroad and its wars in Europe, as a country comprised of both a “native” Irish-Catholic population and an Anglo-Protestant settler class each vying for political and cultural dominance over the other, and as a population of citizens who more often left Ireland and claimed identification with America, England, and the European continent than remained in the country, Ireland had no simple and self-evident national identity to fall back on.  The response of several of the writers we will explore in this course, from Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, and James Joyce in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, and Anne Enright at the turn of the millennium, was to use literature and drama to invent an Irish identity out of this chaotic tangle of competing national, cultural, religious, sexual, racial, and ethnic affiliations.  In this course, we will explore the role of literature in producing and contesting ideas of “Irish” identity, challenging the racial, sexual, and cultural norms of both English imperialism and Irish nationalism, and above all, asking the pervasive and timeless question: what does it mean to belong?

The primary goal of this class is to improve your writing skills and your ability to construct complex ideas and interesting arguments and develop them in your essays.  We will concentrate on mechanics and style, learning 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 and culminating in a longer research paper. 


Reading and Composition: Creation and Creativity

English R1B

Section: 17
Instructor: Saltzman, Benjamin A.
Time: TTh 11-12:30
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Alexander (trans.), G.: Sidney's 'The Defence of Poesy' and Selected Renaissance Literary Criticism (Penguin Classics); Kaufman and Sternberg: The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity; Murray and Dorsch (trans.): Classical Literary Criticism (Penguin Classics); Robinson, K.: Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative; Strunk and White: The Elements of Style

Other Readings and Media

Students will also be required to purchase a reader containing material from Augustine, Bede, Chaucer, Genesis, Milton, Plato, and Shakespeare.

Description

“It is only good for God to create without toil; that which man can create without toil is worthless.” – John Ruskin

Creativity was not always a concept applied to the human potential to conceive of something original, to invent something novel, to produce something out of nothing. Aristotle regarded poetic creativity as primarily a mimetic (imitative) process. In the Middle Ages, creativity (from Latin ‘creare’ [to produce]) seems to have belonged predominantly to the domain of God—the Creator of the universe, the Poet of the world. And it has been argued that “the Renaissance discovery of creativity” was an application of the medieval Christian idea of God as the ultimate Creator—having created the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing)—to the work of human ingenuity. The Renaissance application of this idea to human endeavors—supposing that humans too could create something out of nothing—is largely responsible, so the argument goes, for the way we conceive of creativity in the western world today. Two problems arise: first, the Middle Ages and the conceptions of creativity (both divine and otherwise) developed therein are not so simple; and second, how we think of creativity in the western world today has come under serious consideration from scholars of various disciplines (e.g., psychology, history, education). This course will examine classical, medieval, and early-modern ideas of creativity, narratives of creation, and a even few creative products (e.g., poems, sculptures, plays) in order to gain a deeper understanding of what it actually means to “create.” We will also survey the current state of the field of creativity studies. Over the course of the semester, each student will develop a unique research project that investigates some aspect or manifestation of creativity, whether ancient or modern.

Good research requires creativity. In this course, we will encounter the fundamental (and often paradoxical) burden of the researcher: on the one hand, the researcher must gather knowledge and take stock of what research and ideas have come before; on the other, in order for research to be significant, it must be “original,” it must uncover something new about the topic at hand, and it must—above all—produce new knowledge. While honing our reading and interpretive skills, we will have an opportunity to experience that burden and to discover the great joy of producing original research. 


Reading and Composition: The Parallel Discourses of Sex and Race: The Problems of Othering Sexuality

English R1B

Section: 18
Instructor: Seeger, Andrea Yolande
Time: TTh 12:30-2
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Allison, Dorothy: Bastard out of Carolina; Baldwin, James: Go Tell It on the Mountain; Faulkner, William: The Sound and the Fury; Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye

Other Readings and Media

secondary reading TBA

Description

James Baldwin once said, “The sexual question and the racial question have always been entwined, you know.  If Americans can mature on the level of racism, then they have to mature on the level of sexuality.” This course will be invested in explaining and exploring how the discourses of race and sexuality interact with and construct a culturally prevalent dialogue based on scientific racism, misinformation, fantastic social assumptions, counter-factual evidence, privilege, and power—we will utilize these discourses to theorize how twentieth-century American writers engage with and deconstruct the legacies of scientific racism, class prejudice, and misogyny in their fictional writing about race and sexuality in general and incest in particular.

The writing fundamentals of the course build on the basic writing tenets introduced in R1A by essaying longer expository and argumentative pieces with an emphasis on learning and utilizing research skills.  Students will write and rewrite progressively longer essays as the course progresses, culminating with a ten-page research essay.  This class places a premium on peer editing and student workshopping.


Reading and Composition: U.S. Latina/o Literature and Culture

English R1B

Section: 19
Instructor: Maese-Cohen, Marcelle
Time: TTh 2-3:30
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Alvarez, Julia: In the Time of the Butterflies ; Davalos, Karen Mary: Yolanda M López; Diaz, Junot: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Thomas, Piri: Down These Mean Streets

Other Readings and Media

Required Viewing:
Luis Valdez. Zoot Suit. (1981)
Lourdes Portillo. The Devil Never Sleeps. (1994)
Iris Moralis. Palante, siempre palante! The Young Lords (1996)
Peter Bratt. La Mission. (2009)

Course Reader: M. Jacqui Alexander, alurista, Gloria Anzaldúa, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzáles, Audre Lorde, Cherríe Moraga, selections from The Afro-Latin@Reader (Miriam Jiménez Roman and Juan Flores, eds.)

Description

This course will move toward a collaborative writing practice through in-class presentations designed to create a shared responsibility for understanding the reading, peer-editing, and group office hours. We will also learn the various stages of the research process and conclude with a mini-conference where students will present their work to the class before submitting the final research paper. Our assigned reading will begin with an introduction to queer of color and feminist theories of intersectionality. In this way, we will situate our study of Chican@/Latin@ Literature and Culture through the interlocked and contested terrains of race, labor, sexuality, and nation. In particular, we will consider representations of indigeneity and Afro-Latinidad in relation to spirituality, discourses of social justice, and the (post)colonial history of the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.


Reading and Composition: A Poetic Education in the American Grain

English R1B

Section: 20
Instructor: Miller, Christopher Patrick
Time: TTh 3:30-5
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Ashbery, John: Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror; Bishop, Elizabeth: Poems; Frost, Robert: North of Boston; Howe, Susan: Souls of the Labradie Tract; Hughes, Langston: Selected Poems; Stein, Gertrude: Selected Writings; Whitman, Walt: Poetry and Prose; Williams, William Carlos: Imaginations

Description

Why is there education, there is education because the two tables which are folding are not tied together with a ribbon, string is used and string being used there is a necessity for another one and another one not being used to hearing shows no ordinary use of any evening and yet there is no disgrace in looking, none at all.  This came to separate when there was simple selection of an entire pre-occupation… A curtain, a curtain which is fastened discloses mourning, this does not mean sparrows or elocution or even a whole preparation, it means that there are ears and very often much more altogether.

            - Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons (1914)

At a time when the role and structure of education is being redefined in the United States, we will investigate what role poetry and poetic thinking has in the formation both of individuals and of a national identity.  The challenge will be to develop language for what "poetic" speech can accomplish and how it might make available different ways of learning, knowing, belief, and care.

The class will be divided into two sections: a brief history of American poetry and "poetic" renditions of America's cultural and historical formation.  We will also read some foundational texts about poetics.  The goal of the class is to establish how poetry works and what kinds of models of personhood, value, and social/political life it imagines.  With some concrete examples in place, we will then attempt to understand how these poets mobilize these concepts to re-interpret notions of historical progress and national formation.

Individual research projects can be designed to evaluate a body of poems or use the resources of poetry and poetics to interpret another generic form, historical moment, event, etc.

PROSPECTIVE READING LIST:

 

History of the Lyric:

Song of Myself – Walt Whitman

Three Lives & Everybody's Autobiography– Gertrude Stein

North of Boston – Robert Frost

Spring and All – William Carlos Williams

North and South – Elizabeth Bishop

Montage to a Dream Deferred – Langston Hughes

Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror – John Ashbery

Souls of the Labadie Tract – Susan Howe

 

Poetic Critics of the United States:

Democratic Vistas – Walt Whitman

Education of Henry Adams – Henry Adams

D.H. Lawrence on American Literature

The Making of Americans – Gertrude Stein

In the American Grain – William Carlos Williams

My Emily Dickinson – Susan Howe

 

In addition, we will also be reading selections of writings on poetics from Aristotle, Sydney, Wordsworth, Shelley, and others.


Reading and Composition: Bad Writing

English R1B

Section: 21
Instructor: Mansouri, Leila
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location: 225 Wheeler


Book List

Hacker, Diana: Rules for Writers, 7th Edition; Smith, Zadie: White Teeth; Twain, Mark: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Case Studies in Critical Controversy)

Other Readings and Media

Essays and short stories by David Foster Wallace, Henry James, William Dean Howells, Peter Ho Davies, James Wood, and others.

Description

This course asks students to become better writers by thinking – and writing – about why we call certain kinds of writing “bad” and other kinds “good.” Specifically, we’ll ask what writers, critics, and, yes, teachers have stood to gain by labeling certain styles of writing and certain writers as “bad,” and we’ll discuss why some authors have welcomed, even courted, the label. Along the way we’ll read two popular novels that have attracted more than their share of critics’ and readers’ ire – Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth – and we’ll talk about banned books, grammar SNOOTs, what makes “good” fiction, and why Nathaniel Hawthorne was so concerned that the America of his day was “wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women.” Your own research on what authors, critics, and readers have had to say about “bad writing” will become increasingly central to the class as the semester progresses, helping us to build an account of how definitions of “bad writing” have changed over time and continue to change even in the present day.

The point of all this is, of course, to make ourselves better writers even as we think more critically – and perhaps become a bit more circumspect – about just what, exactly, good writing and bad writing are. To that end, over the course of the semester a series of essay assignments culminating in a substantial research paper will ask you to develop your analytical and research skills. The peer-review and revision process for each essay will help you learn to fully develop your ideas in writing, to sharpen your prose, and, most importantly, to engage and persuade your audience.


Reading and Composition: Thinking Through Poetry

English R1B

Section: 22
Instructor: Lee, Richard Z
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location: 223 Wheeler


Book List

Lehman, David: The Oxford Book of American Poetry; Ricks, Christopher: The Oxford Book of English Verse;

Recommended: Eagleton, Terry: How to Read a Poem

Description

"Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."
"Poetry makes nothing happen."

Behind Percy Bysshe Shelley's exalted claim for poetry's shaping influence on the outside world and W.H. Auden's skeptical rejoinder lie the poems themselves and those that create them. Over the course of the semester, we'll take a fresh look at some major examples of the Anglophone poetic tradition of the past 500-plus years, as we attempt to situate our understanding of this literary form within the range of possibilities suggested by the very different claims of Shelley and Auden. In the process, we’ll introduce and develop students’ close reading skills, paying close attention to matters of form and content. Some of the more specific questions we’ll investigate as we proceed through the centuries will involve the role of poetic genre; the competing claims of the public and private worlds; and the political, commercial, and creative pressures poets have historically confronted. No experience with reading poetry is necessary—only a willingness to engage closely with rich and challenging material.

Through frequent composition, class discussions, and one-on-one conferences, this course will further develop students’ understanding of the process, discipline, and pleasures of writing. It will also familiarize them with the varied resources of the University library. Students will ultimately produce a total of at least thirty-two pages of writing across several essays, including a longer research assignment due at the end of the semester on a poet of their choice.