English R1B

Reading and Composition: Abject America

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
13 Spring 2011 Goodwin, Peter
Goodwin, Peter
TTh 9:30-11 225 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Edgar Allan Poe, Selected Writings; William Faulkner, Light in August; Oscar Zeta Acosta, The Revolt of the Cockroach People; Tony Kushner, Angels in America; course reader


In this course we will be exploring the converse of the American dream of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In texts spanning from the antebellum period to the 1990s, we’ll read stories of death, captivity, and the pursuit of misery. Julia Kristeva’s essay on abjection and Judith Butler’s work on subjection and subjectivity will provide a theoretical framework for our literary studies, while further readings from leaders in American movements for civil rights will provide a pragmatic orientation.

The primary goal of this course is to teach you how to conduct and present research in a clear and compelling way. With this in mind, the readings are designed to guide you in your own research about American experiences of captivity, shame, starvation, sexual violation, disease, and racial hatred. We will devote a considerable amount of class time to learning about the basic tools and techniques for writing a college research paper. Your final project will be a literary research paper on a topic of your own design.

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