English R1A

Reading and Composition: Bringing the Dead Paper to Life

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Spring 2005 Kristin Fujie
T/TH 8-9:30 103 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Henry James: 'The Figure in the Carpet'

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: 'The Yellow Wallpaper'

Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness

Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse

Andrea A. Lunsford: The Everyday Writer

*Students will also be required to purchase a course reader. "


"This course is an introduction to the mechanics and pleasures of critical reading and writing. We will explore what your professors mean when they ask you to read texts 'critically,' and what they want when they ask you to write a 'critical' essay. If you're not sure how critical reading and writing differ from other kinds of reading and writing, don't despair! That's precisely what we're here to figure out. We will begin by abandoning the idea that writing-creative or critical-just happens, and instead approach it as a series of careful and strategic choices. Thus, with respect to both the texts we read (see list below) and the texts you write (see writing requirement below), we will think very carefully about how little decisions such as word choice, verb tense, or the ordering of events/ideas, can influence the overall meaning and effect of a sentence, paragraph or even an entire work. By becoming more conscious of words as active creators of meaning, rather than passive transmitters of information, you will become more perceptive readers and more skillful writers by the end of the semester.

You will also, I hope, find that a critical approach to the words on the page animates the experiences of reading and writing, that it brings, (to borrow words from one of our texts), the 'dead paper' to life. Indeed, the core texts for this course made the cut precisely because they challenge their readers, in a variety of ways, to bring them to life, to make them meaningful. Whether the diary of a woman driven to despair by the detestable wallpaper in her room, or the story of a man obsessed with his wife's perfectly white teeth, each of these texts uses its language to veil, delay and disperse meaning. Refusing to arrive at a clear 'point,' these stories and novels invite their readers to complete them, to participate in the process of making their meaning. Our project this semester, then, will be to accept the invitation. Dense language makes for rich reading, and we will therefore read slowly, both for the sake of sanity and maximum enjoyment! Students will read thoroughly, write furiously, and participate earnestly in class discussion.

Writing Requirement: The formal writing for this course will break into approximately five essays of increasing length and complexity. At least two of these papers will undergo serious revision. Informal writing will include weekly reading responses, peer-editing, and anything else I can think of to get your pens to paper. "

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