English R1B

Reading and Composition: Fessing Up

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
10 Spring 2005 Stephen Katz
TTH 8-9:30 204 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter

Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita

Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior

Dubus, Andre. Selected Stories

A course reader including excerpted works by St. Augustine, Abelard and Heloise, Geoffrey Chaucer, and critical essays. "


"The most casual glance at 'bad' television or print media is enough to confirm Michel Foucault's claim that 'Western man has become a confessing animal.' From Jerry Springer and Pete Rose to that inimitable Hilton heiress herself, public and truthful self-revelation has become synonymous with the act of confessing: the staged moment of coming clean (or at least its promise) that makes for a peculiar way of reflecting on a life. What are the rules for confessing, and what version of ourselves, including our pasts and our faults, does this bizarre form of autobiography depend on? The readings for this class each cash in on confession as a way of narrating a life story, with its sensationalistic potential, its guilty pleasures for us as readers, and its way of making acceptable the recounting of socially aberrant behavior. We'll be primarily interested in confession as a literary gambit, but we will also be attentive to the resonances of legal, therapeutic, and religious ideas within the various works. This range of concerns should offer you the opportunity to choose paper topics that intersect with your own academic interests.

Such issues will be our intellectual fodder as we address the writerly concerns of the R1B syllabus. Our common approach to texts as literary productions will allow us to consider the technical aspects of good writing (grammar, sentence and paragraph construction, thesis development, evidence, and style) in ways more pulse-quickening than such a list might at first suggest. Our common goal will be the mastery of those competencies necessary for the production of solid, analytical prose, and an introduction to the methods of academic research. All of this will acquaint you with the forms of argumentation that you will need at your disposal for such perils as one encounters in the classrooms of Berkeley, and beyond.

Over the course of the semester, you will be assigned three papers and a number of short take-home assignments. The final project will involve your writing a longer research paper that will draw on multiple sources. Each paper will involve a primary draft, peer editing, and a final revision and submission for a grade. You will receive a substantial amount of feedback from the instructor on all three essays.

Constant attendance, frequent in-class participation, and dedication to the reading are all required for this course. "

Back to Semester List