English R1B

Reading and Composition: Realisms and Aesthetic Experience

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2004 Jennifer Scappettone
MWF 1-2 80 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

"Chesnutt, C. selections from The Conjure Woman

Harris, J.C. selections from Nights with Uncle Remus

Gilman, C.P. The Yellow Wallpaper

James, H. selections from The American Scene

Toomer, J. Cane

Dos Passos, J. The 42nd Parallel

Darwish, M. Memory for Forgetfulness

Joseph W. Williams, Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity & Grace, 5th edition

A course reader (to be printed by Odin Readers on Center St. and Oxford) containing: this syllabus, poems by Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Hart Crane, George Oppen, Juliana Spahr strategies for close reading, peer editing instructions, paper guidelines, & common errors, as well as critical and poetic works

Recommended texts: John Berger, J. Ways of Seeing Queneau, R. Exercises in Style "


"In this course we will experiment with reading against traditional notions of ?realism? in order both to grasp the central concerns of realist literature composed over the turn of the 20th century and to broaden our analytical horizons. This will mean reading against tendencies with which you may be most comfortable, which view literary characters and narrative voices as the driving forces of literary works and as the repositories of reliable information and/or unencumbered choice . We will approach a number of works which stress the role of external forces of circumstance?historical, economic, geographical, racial, sexual, cultural?in steering experience. We will pay special attention to our authors? obsessions with the shaping power of space and place in an urbanizing landscape. And because many of these writers, surrounded by an unprecedented onslaught of images, are obsessed with the vagaries of appearance, we will watch as their texts negotiate the difference between experience regarded as aesthetic and experience of an unmediated ?actuality.? We will try to think about what spaces and images do to or for subjects in addition to the more familiar focus on what subjects do within or with them. We will also discuss whether, and how, realist ?documentary? modes and ?aesthetic? modes of writing diverge or dovetail.

The course?s theme resonates with our focus on research and composition. As we learn to write, we realize how profoundly un?realistic,? how artful, are our practices of containing and sorting the commotion of our surroundings. By viewing channels of ?information? with a critical eye, we will learn to critique and hone our own modes of perception and its reportage. We will try our collective hand at writing on a number of genres. Documenting the development of our own ideas, we will try to responsibly address those aspects of circumstance which our writing crops or foregrounds, and thus to become more aware and dialectically rigorous thinkers. We will develop two research papers over the course of the semester, moving from drafts through revisions to polished work. "

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