English R1A

Reading & Composition: Writing the Civil War

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2008 Cody Marrs
MWF 3-4 222 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Charles Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales ; E.L. Doctorow, The March ; W.E.B. Dubois, Black Reconstruction in America ; Herman Melville, Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War ; Walt Whitman, Poetry and Prose; Strunk and White, The Elements of Style ; A course reader


"This course will explore writing in two ways: first, by examining how literary responses to the Civil War have shaped, and continue to shape, Americans� sense of racial and national history; and second, by studying the process of argumentative exposition. To disclose the effects of what Walt Whitman called America�s �real parturition years� and to consider how writing, more generally, responds to trauma, we will look at novels, lyrics, films, folktales and narrative histories about the Civil War. Beginning with Herman Melville�s Battle-Pieces and ending with E.L. Doctorow�s The March, we will examine the various ways in which representations of the Civil War, both literary and visual, are intimately bound up with questions about race, nationalism, and political ideals in the United States.

Taking these texts as occasions to produce further writing about the war, students will write a series of short papers (each 4-5 pages long), three of which will be workshopped and peer-edited. Considerable emphasis will be placed on learning the mechanics of essay writing: lectures and in-class workshops on topics ranging from thesis statements to transitions and sentence construction will be frequent. "

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