English R1B

Reading & Composition: Storytelling

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
15 Spring 2012 Gordon, Zachary
MWF 11-12 129 Barrows

Book List

Calvino, Italo: If on a winter's night a traveller; David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen: Writing Analytically; Didion, Joan: Slouching Towards Bethlehem; West, Nathanael: Miss Lonelyhearts and the Day of the Locust


This course will develop your writing and research skills through careful study of works that, to varying degrees, concern the art of storytelling. We will closely read several authors ranging from Herodotus to Italo Calvino, all the while posing a number of questions to come to a collective understanding of the genre in its many forms: What assumptions do certain storytellers make about their audiences and themselves? Why do they arrange events in a certain order? What makes the events recounted worth communicating in the first place? In what sense do characters tell themselves stories, and what happens when they stop believing them? Many of these considerations will apply to the composition of your essays as well, and over the course of the semester we will work to make them part of the writing process.

As this is a writing intensive course, a significant portion of our time will be dedicated to refining your prose. You will be responsible for writing a total of three papers: a two-page diagnostic essay and two longer essays, both of which require substantial revisions. The final paper will incorporate independent research. In addition, there will be a number of shorter assignments designed to hone your skills as critical readers and writers.

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