English R1A

Reading & Composition: Knocking Words Together, or Playing with Words

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2008 David Menilla
MWF 12-1 222 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

W.E. DuBois, Of Our Spiritual Strivings ; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway ; William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying ; Toni Morrison, Beloved ; Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior ; A course reader will include essays.


"�So, thought Septimus, looking up, they are signaling to me. Not indeed in actual words; that is, he could not read the language yet; but it was plain enough, this beauty, this exquisite beauty, and tears filled his eyes as he looked at the smoke words languishing and melting in the sky and bestowing upon him in their inexhaustible charity and laughing goodness one shape after another of unimaginable beauty and signaling their intention to provide him, for nothing, for ever, for looking merely, with beauty, more beauty! Tears ran down his cheeks.� Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

This course will introduce students to the process and practice of critical reading and writing. By becoming aware of the critical choices you make when you write a thesis, a sentence, or paragraph, you will become a more active participant in the creative process of writing, and reading. The texts we will read this semester ask us to be perceptive and skillful readers, to look closely at the stylistic choices the authors have made in their own creative process. We will enter the minds of unstable characters that are nonetheless given the power of narrative omniscience, and whose experiences question the rules of grammar. As �active� readers, our job will be to put the formal pieces together by understanding how the choices writers make at the syntactical level, word choice or verb tense, and linguistic, free-indirect style, structure the text�s meaning (For example, how is the excerpt above an example of free-indirect style?). The pleasure of these texts will be located in the work that you will do to interpret how the form produces the novel�s meaning, and in turn how that participation helps you to develop as a writer.

Writing Requirement: Reading and writing critically will take practice. We will engage with these texts critically through class discussion, close reading exercises, personal response papers and longer expository essays. I will assign four to five smaller papers of 2-4 pages each. We will also devote class time to brainstorming ideas, developing theses, and drafting and revising critical essays. Our goal is to become comfortable with the idea that writing critically and reading critically are part of one and the same process. "

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