English R1B

Reading & Composition: Paranoia

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
25 Spring 2012 Ahmed, Adam
TTh 3:30-5 106 Mulford

Book List

Austen, Jane: Northanger Abbey; Dick, Philip K. : The Philip K. Dick Reader; Kafka, Franz: The Trial; Pynchon, Thomas: The Crying of Lot 49

Other Readings and Media

A course reader, including poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno,” selections from Judge Schreber’s journals, selections from Freud’s The Schreber Case, and some stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe.

Films: The Conversation (1974), Rear Window (1954), Videodrome (1983), and The Ghost Writer (2010)



We all recognize its symptoms: feelings of persecution, irrational thinking, fear that others are plotting against you. We see its plots in popular culture -- dystopian fiction, political thrillers, and suspense films all move the story along with a deep-seated feeling that something is not right. We know its delusions, so why do we remain suspicious?  Of course we usually designate delusion from suspicion by the credibility of its proof; but even when it remains unverified, paranoia is grounded in some version of the credible. In this class, we will examine this strange overlap between the delusional and the credible -- from 19th century writing on superstition to 20th century plots in which the protagonist is the center of some great network of forces trying to make him (or her) disappear.

While we read these unverified and imaginative descriptions of the world, the goal of this class will be to make sure your arguments do not suffer the same fate. As an R1B, this course will reinforce students’ grasp of grammar and argument, while introducing them to some of the scholarly and analytical techniques for research writing. Through themed groupings of material and several researched essays, students will learn how analyze outside source material and craft their own original theses.

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