English R1B

Reading & Composition: Literature and the City

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
10 Fall 2008 Jasper Bernes
TTh 9:30-11 225 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Andr� Breton, Nadja; Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower; Phillip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly; Lisa Robertson, Occasional Work and Seven Walks Ed Roberson, City Eclogues; A course reader, including essays and poems by Baudelaire, Benjamin, Davis, Jameson, O�Hara and others.


"This course will consider the ways in which literature has responded to the city and its accompanying modes of life: alienating, unhealthful and frightening; thrilling, liberatory and glamorous; the site of torments and marvels; of endless workdays and boundless consumption. Among our various lines of inquiry, we will want to identify the ways in which literary form�whether that of the lyric poem, the prose poem, the essay, or the science-fiction novel�impacts and is impacted by the social and historical forces at work in the city.

To this end, we�ll hone our skills as critical readers, learning how to make observations about the problems and intricacies that these texts offer, to broaden these observations through careful analysis, and to combine our analyses into a critical essay shaped by a thesis. As such, we will devote a large portion of class time to the particulars of students� own essays, paying special attention to sentence mechanics, paragraph construction, thesis and argument. In addition, because one of the aims of an R1B course is to introduce you to research methods used in the humanities, each of our primary texts will serve as the entry-point for individual research from a wide variety of fields: literary criticism, history, cultural theory and urban studies. Students will conduct independent reading projects, report on their research to the class, and incorporate what they have learned into two 7-10 page research papers."

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