English R1B

Reading and Composition: Elegiac Modes - Authenticity and Mourning in Lyric, Monument, and Popular Culture

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
12 Spring 2007 Penelope Anderson
TTh 9.30-11.00am 103 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Sigmund Freud, ?Mourning and Melancholia?

Gwendolyn Brooks, In the Mecca

Alan Ball, Six Feet Under

Philip Levine, The Simple Truth

Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy (selections)

Selected lyric poems by Ben Jonson; Katherine Philips; John Donne; Lucy Hutchinson; John Milton; Andrew Marvell; Emily Dickinson; Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Gwendolyn Brooks; and Elizabeth Bishop "


"What do we expect from a work of art that takes death as its subject? How do we expect it to make us feel? Do we read it differently than, say, a love poem, or a comedy ? and what happens when love, comedy, and death intermix? What can the disappointment or fulfillment of our expectations tell us about how we read, and how we write?

This course takes works of art commemorating death as the starting point for an investigation of literary form and critical reading practice. We will attend not only to the ideas and images of the texts we study, but also to the difference it makes that they come to us in the forms that they do ? whether as lyric poems, physical monuments, or TV shows.

Our study of how these texts work will illuminate not only how we read, but also how our expectations and assumptions shape us as writers. Writing assignments will include: a pr?cis of Freud?s ?Mourning and Melancholia;? a close reading of a lyric poem; writing an obituary; an analysis of a physical monument; two short argumentative papers; and an extended research paper. Short research assignments will entail exploring newspaper debates about the Vietnam Veterans? Memorial and the World Trade Center memorial, using online archives of early printed books, and comparing contemporary and later reviews of poems. The shorter assignments of the course build toward your final research project, teaching you to plan your research, evaluate sources, and incorporate the results into an argumentative paper, with appropriate drafting and revision. In all cases the goal will be clear, grammatical English prose that communicates effectively. "

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