English R1B

Reading and Composition: Getting Real: Exploring Passing and Authenticity

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Fall 2007 D. Bednarska
TTh 2-3:30 206 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Passing by Nella Larsen

Tar Baby by Toni Morrison

Exile and Pride by Eli Clare

A Writer�s Reference by Diane Hacker

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

A course reader location TBD "


"This course will examine imperatives and anxieties about authenticity in relation to race, ethnicity, gender and disability. Concern about who is and is not a part of these social categories is not simply a contemporary phenomenon, but also a major theme within literary texts. We will investigate passing through posing such questions as what causes the pressure to pass as a particular ethnicity, race, gender or ability? How do these texts represent people passing or failing to pass? How do we as readers decide and what are the consequences? What do we mean when we talk about authenticity in relation to social identities? How does the meaning of authenticity change in relation to different texts and authors? What implications does authenticity have for notions of belonging? The goal of posing these questions will not be to arrive at one predetermined answer, but rather complicate and deepen our understanding of what it means when questions of authenticity are at stake. Through the assigned readings we will come to understand passing as a varied and context-dependent social practice. We will also interrogate the concept of authentic identity and look at formulations from the nineteenth century into the present day.

While exploring these themes of authenticity and passing you will also be developing as a writer and researcher. RIB is intended to build upon the writing and argumentation skills developed in RIA, while integrating effective research skills. You will be writing several short assignments based on the weekly reading that will lead to the development of a larger research project that you design. We will address thesis construction, developing and sustaining an argument, dealing with counterevidence, and organization as well as grammar, syntax and style. You will be asked to develop and apply these skills both to your own work and the work of others. "

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