English R1A

Reading & Composition: Amnesia and Anamnesis

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2008 Talissa Ford
TTh 11-12:30 222 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Auster, P.: Travels in the Scriptorium: A Novel ; Beckett, S.: Waiting for Godot ; Dick, P.K.: Valis ; Ishiguro, K.: The Unconsoled ; Lethem, J.: Amnesia Moon ;


"A narrative trope and a metaphor for fractured identity, the condition of amnesia has taken on cultural weight. Memory is coded as progress; haunted by the warning that �those who forget history are doomed to repeat it,� we as a society struggle to learn from our mistakes, to compare now to then: Is Iraq another Vietnam? Is this generation more rebellious than the last? To forget, then, is to lose identity, or to regress, or to more generally fail; amnesia is finally the loss of both culture and self. Anamnesis, then, is our salvation. The sudden lifting of amnesia, �anamnesis� is generally used to describe a spiritual revelation, but in this course we will take up the phenomenon both as a description of a more general enlightenment and as a metaphor for the process of reading. Reading is always a negotiation between receiving and producing knowledge; like the uncovering of a forgotten memory, what reading communicates is to some extent already known. This course will consider how amnesia and anamnesis work in popular discourse, and how, as descriptors, they shape our values and identities. Reading widely in scientific, autobiographical and fictional accounts of amnesia and anamnesis, we will also interrogate the corresponding ways in which amnesia and anamnesis might be productive, exploring their potentials for producing new narratives and new identities.

Writing Requirements: four essays, three revisions, peer-review workshops, weekly blog postings "

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