English R1B

Reading and Composition: Race, Violence, and Paranoia

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
19 Spring 2007 Jesse Costantino
TTh 3:30-5:00 pm 2030 Valley LSB

Other Readings and Media

"William Faulkner, Light in August (1932)

Boris Vian, I Spit on Your Graves (1946)

Chester Himes, A Rage in Harlem (1957)

Gene Wolfe, The Fifth Head of Cerberus (1972)


The Searchers (1956)

Sweet Sweetback?s Baadasssss Song (1971)

Rocky (1976) "


"As the title suggests, this course will consider the relationship between race, violence, and paranoia. Often when narratives (whether novels or films) explore racial difference, depictions of violence are not far removed. The texts I?ve assembled for this course identify paranoia as the fundamental link between race and violence. It will be our job to attempt to identify how and why these authors and filmmakers link race to violence through the lens of paranoia.

Additionally, almost all of these texts come from the US. The only exception is I Spit on Your Graves, which was written by a French author who claimed to have translated this novel from one written by an African-American. Hence, we will also consider the relevance of American culture to this intersection. Richard Hofstadter?s 1964 essay, ?The Paranoid Style of American Politics? presents us with a useful starting point: the paranoid ?does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised . . . [W]hat is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish.? This sentiment and its relevance to American culture will be a guidepost for us throughout the semester.

Above all, this is a writing course, so your primary goal will be to refine and develop analytical writing skills. You will be expected to write a series of progressively longer and more complicated essays throughout the semester. In addition, this course carries a research component; you will learn basic research methods (library, internet, etc.) and apply them to your writing. You will also be required to purchase a course reader that includes literature and relevant literary criticism not listed below. "

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