English R1B

Reading & Composition: In the Wake of War

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
13 Fall 2008 Gina Patnaik
TTh 2-3:30 225 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!; Spiegelman, Maus; William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, Illustrated; Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers; a course reader


Wars punctuate and define our history. Governments declare armistices, but do we ever really move past the moment of battle? In the wake of death, what new forms of living emerge? In this course, we?ll focus on texts which play out the days, months and years after war?s end. The works we will encounter grapple with the consequences of past violence and navigate the strangely unfamiliar terrain of the present. As T.S. Eliot writes shortly after the First World War, ?I had not thought death had undone so many.? Reflecting upon an England shell-shocked by WWI, an American South haunted by the Civil War, or even the contemporary situation of Guant?namo detainees, the authors we?ll read pick up the threads of everyday life after ? and perhaps in spite of ? the trauma of war. As we read, we?ll try to come up with answers for some of the following questions: how does memory-production (or even memory loss) play a role in the shaping of individual, cultural or national identities? How do we appropriately mourn the dead? Can we even imagine a future in the wake of devastating loss? This course is intended to equip you with the skills needed to think critically about poetry, fiction and non-fiction prose, graphic novels, and film. How might fiction (or film, or poetry, or newsmedia) capture the tensions of a post-war present in ways that other forms don?t? We?ll place literary texts in conversation with historical and theoretical accounts of war, mourning, and reparation from thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, and Giorgio Agamben. You?ll build upon the analytical thinking and writing skills you developed in R1A, refining argumentation and organization as you begin to integrate your own research into progressively longer writing assignments.

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