English R1A

Reading and Composition: �Reason is but choosing�: Ethical Dilemmas and Literary Form

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Fall 2006 Penelope Anderson
TTh 2-3.30 204 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Ccourse reader: Genesis, the story of Abraham and Isaac (in KJV translation)

Lucy Hutchinson, Order and Disorder, Canto 15

selected essays

John Milton, Samson Agonistes

Sophocles, Antigone

Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (selections)

Cesare Pavese, The House on the Hill

Dai Sijie, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Tony Kushner, Angels in America

Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers (5e) "


"John Milton, arguing against the governmental oversight of book printing in Areopagitica, tells us that �reason is but choosing.� He also tells us, famously, of another choice: that �from out the rind of one apple tasted, . . . the knowledge of good and evill as two twins cleaving together leapt forth into the World.� The wonderful duality of that word �cleaving� � to come together, to rend asunder � shows us that even choices we consider absolute carry the specter of the unchosen option with them. In this course, we will consider ethical dilemmas in two forms: firstly the choice to act, often violently, and its consequences; secondly the legal stipulation that �not doing is no trespass� and whether inaction frees us from blame.

Writing is one of the best ways of coming to terms with the ideas and forms of literary texts; consequently, the course will require frequent writing, in a variety of styles, designed both to help you develop your ideas about the texts and to convey those ideas in writing. As a seminar on the consequences of persuasion and choice, many of these assignments will take the form of short position papers asking you to argue on one side or the other of a question. These assignments aim to develop your argumentative writing skills by suiting different forms of persuasive speech to different occasions, preparing you to write in a wide variety of situations, though focusing primarily on the academic essay. You will be writing and rewriting every week, both in class and out. To that end, a portion of each class period will focus on grammar, using Diana Hacker�s Rules for Writers, with additional online exercises. "

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