English R1A

Reading and Composition: Sympathy and The Social Contract

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Fall 2004 D. Rae Greiner
Tuesday/Thursday 12:30-2:00 103 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Bront?, E. Wuthering Heights

Conrad, J. The Nigger of the ?Narcissus?: A Tale of the Sea

Hacker, D. A Writer?s Reference

Hardy, T. Tess of the D?Urbervilles

Sontag, S. Regarding the Pain of Others

Course Reader, available at University Copy (2425 Channing Way)

Contains theoretical essays, short stories and poems, as well as material pertaining directly to rhetorical strategies, organizational and argumentative strategies, and examples of expository writing. "


In this course, we will be using a wide variety of pre-Romantic, Romantic, Victorian and contemporary texts in order to examine the changing function of rhetorical strategies across disciplines and across centuries. In particular, we will be asking questions about the role of ?fellow-feeling,? or sympathy, in the attempt to build a free and democratic society. We will pay close attention to the ways in which language and narrative operate, examining not only what kind of stories get told but how they are told. We will notice, for example, that in order for one fictional character to ?sympathize? with another (and in order for readers to sympathize with characters), narratives must enact certain kinds of violence on their subjects?we seem to be able to ?feel? the most for others only when those others are made to suffer?and that this violence produces ?subjects in distress.? These subjects are sometimes, and quite literally, ?monstrous,? and are often broken, mutilated, damaged, or brutalized in some way . . . and we want to know why! Finally, we will turn from late 18th century discussions of sympathy?s social role to more modern texts to consider the ways in which sympathy is deployed in our own cultural and historical moment. Because this class is reading and writing intensive, you will be asked to do many different kinds of writing, and will be required to do full revision of two major assignments. In addition, you will be required to keep up with the reading and take reading quizzes on a daily basis.

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