English R1A

Reading & Composition: Writing About Literarary Experience

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Spring 2012 Jordan, Joseph P
Jordan, Joe
TTh 9:30-11 222 Wheeler

Book List

Chekhov , Anton: The Essential Tales of Chekhov; Dickens, Charles: Oliver Twist; Gibaldi, Joseph: MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers; Shakespeare, William: Macbeth


In this course we will read and write about markedly different kinds of literature—one novel, one play, a good deal of verse, some short stories, some contemporary song lyrics—with the aim of coming to some conclusions about what makes great literature great and why we should care about it.

I’ve chosen not to organize this class around a single theme, first, because the course is by definition a writing course and I don’t want to pretend otherwise. I also want us to resist the urge to compartmentalize experience. It is common for people to like different sorts of literature, but uncommon for students and teachers to think about what, for example, the experiences of little poems and big novels have in common. In this class we will try to make connections between seemingly unlike things—not only between the works on the reading list, but between those works and examples of contemporary popular art forms like country music song lyrics, television sitcoms, movies (and so on). The class will push the notion that the history of English literature is in large part the history of popular English literature—a fact that justifies our giving serious consideration to some things that academic-types usually don’t take seriously.

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