English R50

Freshman and Sophomore Studies: Textual Embodiment?What is a text? What is a body?

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2006 Edwards, Rebekah
TTh 2-3:30 246 Dwinelle

Other Readings and Media

"Shelley, M.: Frankenstein; Mootoo, S.: Cereus Blooms at Night; Course Reader; and the film Ma Vie En Rose

Recommended Texts: Eagleton, T.: Literary Theory; Butler, J.: Bodies that Matter; Thompson, R.: Extraordinary Bodies; Fausto-Sterling, A.: Sexing the Body "


"in order to see what a photograph is of, we must first repress the knowledge of what the photograph is?? George Batchen

This quote about the transparency of the photograph as object in relation to its photographic content is also a good description of the transparency of the literary text. Often, English students are expected to perform a task opposite to the repression Batchen comments on ? that is, students are expected to expose and negotiate what a text ?is? (for example, the relationship between the content, genre, and/or circumstances of production and reception of a literary text) ?in order to say something about what they understand the text to be ?of.? Human bodies, even more than photographs, and certainly more than literary texts, are often perceived as given, immutable, biologically real and therefore immediate ? exactly what they ?are.? Some thinkers contend, however, that the material, ?real? body is at least in part produced and maintained by various discourses, including those concerned with sex, gender, race and ability. What happens when literary texts are concerned with human bodies? When texts are about bodies, then reading them as texts inevitably opens questions about how bodies themselves are read, received, and produced as being of different genres (kinds). The primary texts we will read for this course -- novels, short stories and films -- are centrally concerned with bodies that disrupt ideas of physical/social normalcy; such disruptions inevitably expose underlying concerns with issues of subjectivity and humanness. These texts have been written about from within various modes of critical practice, enabling us to read a number of approaches to the same text and hence explore the possibilities of both the literary and the theoretical texts.

This is a course designed to introduce the future English major to various modes of literary critical practice both in our readings and in our written work, in order to develop and hone skills for writing about literary texts. The goal of the course is to help you develop your skills in critical reading, analytical writing and scholarly research. You will complete a number of different writing exercises, including: close-readings, developmental and explorative exercises, an annotated bibliography, and three analytical papers. This course assumes that revision is a key component to writing a strong paper; hence, revision strategies and practices will be a central focus of this course. "

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