English R1A

Reading and Composition: Bad Managements

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Fall 2007 Jami Bartlett
TTh 11-12:30 203 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"William Makepeace Thackeray, Barry Lyndon (1844)

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence (1920)

Graham Greene, The End of the Affair (1951)

John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces (1978)

Martin Scorsese, The Age of Innocence (1993)

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, The Office (2001-03)

Andrea Lunsford, Easy Writer (2005)

Course reader from University Copy (2425 Channing Way; 510-549-2335)"


" This course begins your training in the systematic practice of reading and writing, with the aim of developing your critical attention and argumentation skills through short expository papers, in-class essays, and informal close readings. You will be responsible for writing and revising 3 papers (5-6 pages in length), two essay exams, three rounds of peer editing, and weekly responses to required reading.

The courses that comprise Berkeley�s reading and composition sequence have been designed to create a community of writers across the university curriculum: students read interdisciplinary texts, interact with colleagues from other departments, and write for many different audiences. To this end, �Bad Managements� will introduce you to many different kinds of writing, from student essays to game theory, business school literature on �the heart of leadership,� psychoanalytic approaches to trauma and self-management, and film and literary criticism. My hope is that a topic like this, with its stress on the forms that we use to contain and express ourselves, will bring us closer to the compromises of and in our own writing.

What is course is about:

I enjoy seeing the lengths to which bad managements go to preserve what they call their independence�which really just means their jobs.

-Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal (1987)

To cast in my lot with Jekyll was to die to those appetites which I had long secretly indulged and had of late begun to pamper. To cast it in with Hyde was to die to a thousand interests and aspirations, and to become, at a blow and for ever, despised and friendless.

-Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

One of the most striking absences in my Stevenson epigraph is the identity of its �I,� for as even a casual familiarity with the story tells us, Jekyll and Hyde are the same person. In order to cast in my lot with one or the other I�d have to transcend them both, making the decision as pointless as the novel would be without its drama. This course will begin with the assumption that stories about self-management (including the stories we tell to and about ourselves) are driven by this kind of foreclosure, a friction that develops after we already know what we are. Donald Trump, no stranger to the kinds of management-speak that means �jobs� when it says �independence,� wouldn�t be wrong to think of Jekyll and Hyde as a kind of corporation, a body with bodies inside. For just as euphemisms do two kinds of work�syntactically using words like �independence� to stand in for a group of correlated interests while pragmatically clueing us into the vulnerable �jobs� beneath them�the logic of incorporation puts its bodies to work in unequal and often unrewarding roles. If the choice of becoming-Jekyll or becoming-Hyde requires incompatible costs, we know they aren�t equivalent, and that it�s only after one incorporates the other that it becomes impossible to be both.

Each of the novels we�ll be reading this semester dramatizes the negotiation that takes place once its roles have been assigned, and looks for new ways to maintain them: Thackeray�s con artist misrecognizes himself, Wharton�s Newland struggles with submission, and Stevenson and Toole work to contain their characters� disgusting�and disgustingly literal�leakiness. These are perspectives with real costs: the ethics of personal and social relationships, identities, and obligations are clearly at stake, so while we will never see the successful transgression that the illusion of �I� (or its �independence�) promises, we will always feel its corporate weight. A closer look at these �bad managements� will reveal all the friction there is in a done deal, giving us cause to review the knotty organization of our own self-expression, and the energy to be found in a foreclosed place. "

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