English R1A

Reading and Composition: Language, Writing and the Self

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
10 Spring 2005 Richards, Diane
TuTh 3:30-5:00 104 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

"Crews, Frederick. The Random House Handbook

DeLillo, Don. White Noise

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying

Wolff, Tobias. Old School.

A course reader including short stories and critical essays by, among others, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, William Faulkner, Gish Jen, Raymond Carver, John Wideman, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Margaret Atwood. "


"The purpose of the course is to teach you what it means to ""think critically"" about sophisticated texts and how to express the results of this critical thinking in well-conceived, thesis-driven essays as well as orally. In working towards our goals, we will debunk the notion that good writing ""just happens"" to talented individuals and learn, rather, that good writing means rewriting (and hard work). Formal writing assignments will emphasize various phases of writing as a process: brainstorming and outlining, drafting and revision. Drafts will be required for each essay. If you have the time and the desire, you will have unlimited opportunity to revise your essays, as long as your revisions are substantive and not merely cosmetic. Reading and critiquing the essays of your fellow students will also be an essential part of the course, since it is often easier to recognize what works (or doesn't) in someone else's writing. Class discussion will provide an additional forum to hone your critical thinking skills by enabling you to question and evaluate your own ideas in the context of those of your classmates.

The texts for the course were chosen for their ability to require attention to the nuances of linguistic usage as well as to inspire critical thinking about language and its role in shaping the individual self. We will begin with a selection of short stories and go on to read three relatively short full-length works which focus both implicitly and explicitly on the intersection between language and the formation of the self as it plays out in a variety of cultural milieux. We'll begin with Tobias Wolff and DeLillo and build up to the linguistic density of Faulkner's modernist tour de force.

Writing Requirements: three formal essays of progressively increasing lengths; one required revision; one in-class essay; drafts (ungraded) for each formal essay; graded peer evaluations, and informal written responses for each reading assignment. "

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