English R1B

Reading and Composition: Thematics and Forms of Obsession in Literature

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Fall 2005 Eleanor Johnson
TTh 3:30-5 41 Evans

Other Readings and Media

"Pope, A.: Rape of the Lock

Shakespeare, W.: Hamlet

Coleridge, S. T.: Rime of the Ancient Mariner

James, H.: The Beast in the Jungle, The Turn of the Screw

Nabokov, V.: Lolita

Course Reade includes:

Chaucer, G.: ""The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale,"" from The Canterbury Tales

The Pearl-Poet

Greenblatt, S.: ?Remember Me?

Milton, J.: Lycidas

Jonson, S.: ?Lycidas?

Freud, S.: ?Notes Upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis?

Sedgwick, E. K.: ?The Beast in the Closet?

Required Films:

Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, (Morris and Hoover)

Trekkies, (Nygard)


Strunk and White: Strunk and White?s Manual of Style

Hacker, D.: A Writer?s Reference "


"This course will focus on literature and the craft of critical writing through an exploration of obsession as a principle of narration. We will begin in the late Middle Ages with selections from Chaucer and will finish off over 600 years later with Nabokov's Lolita and the documentaries Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control and Trekkies.

We will think through the problem of genre in obsessive texts?are they generally tragic? Can they be comic? What happens to the audience's emotions in reading an obsessive text? What about the emotions of the narrator? We will also explore the various thematics of obsession in these works, asking what kinds of obsessions (self, work, past, love object, etc.) tend to become the object of literary inquiry. And, finally, we will pay special attention to the forms and devices that authors use to express obsession, asking how (lists, repetitions, exclamations, exaggerations, etc.) these texts represent obsession.

In addition to our focus on literary analysis in class, each week we will approach a problem or strategy of writing: thesis construction, amassing proof in an argument, grammatical structures, rhetorical strategies, close readings, etc.

The writing you will produce in this class will require close reading of individual texts, as well as synthetic analysis across works. Your first essay will be a short diagnostic essay, and there will be two further essays assigned during term (one 6-8 pages and one 10-12 pages in length). These papers will be designed to emphasize outlining, drafting, writing, revising, and rewriting. The third paper will include a research component, oriented around the topic of the course. You will develop a more specific area of inquiry in consultation with me, and you will be required to bring in secondary material in your analysis. We will tour the library and explore its research resources prior to your undertaking your research project.

Grades will also be determined by active participation in class, peer reviewing of papers, and one brief oral presentation.

Toward the end of term, we will screen two films in the evening, at a time when most students can attend. Those who cannot attend will be responsible for renting the movies and screening them independently. "

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