English R1B

Reading & Composition: Secrecy and Detection

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
14 Fall 2008 Dan Clinton
TTh 3:30-5 225 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Sigmund Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria; Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Henry James, Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers; Herman Melville, Billy Budd and Other Tales. Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings. Course Reader.

Screenings: Rear Window (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1954), The Mad Detective (dir. Johnnie To, 2007), or possibly other films. "


"The critical reader may easily fall into the habit of regarding even the most innocent tale as a case awaiting solution, such that every bright country cottage or society salon becomes a crime scene to be scrutinized by the inch. Leaving aside the question of whether any tale is entirely innocent, this course will fully indulge the forensic impulse by examining texts that explicitly organize themselves around secrets (some dirtier than others). We will trace this theme through a variety of genres, from the detective story to the medical case history, in order to investigate how these authors began to decode human behavior and social systems. Throughout the course, detection will serve as a functional metaphor for reading, one that often allows authors to reflect on their practices of composition.

While many of the course readings will obsess over obfuscation, this course has as its primary aim the development of critical writing skills that will require a minimal effort of decryption on the reader�s part. Expect one short diagnostic essay followed by two progressively longer papers, in addition to exercises on topics such as thesis development, argumentation, sentence construction, and research."

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