English R1A

Reading & Composition: What Have I Done ?

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Fall 2012 Creasy, CFS
MWF 12-1 222 Wheeler

Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable; Ford, Ford Madox: The Good Soldier; Freud, Sigmund: Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria; Grene, David: Sophocles I: Oedipus The King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone; Poe, Edgar Allan: The Portable Edgar Allan Poe; Stevenson, Robert Louis: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales

Other Readings and Media

A film screening of either Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger or Blow-up.

An online course reader with theoretical excerpts that may include G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Lacan, and Carlo Ginzburg.


This course will examine the problematic interactions between experience, action, and knowledge. Focusing primarily on the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, we will read mostly narrative literary works that address a problem of knowledge and self-knowledge that seems to hinge, paradoxically, on a moment of error. To the casual observer, these works might be taken to be so many detective stories. Nothing is less certain. Thus, we will flirt mercilessly with that generic convention, as well as the not unrelated convention of the tragic, but we will refuse to allow ourselves to mistake either for truth, since it is the truth we seek. The relationship between literature and other discourses presumably concerned with truth (e.g. philosophy and something like science) also will be at stake, but above all we will address the ways in which these texts thematize and formalize problems of the relationship between knowledge, self-knowledge, action, and error—how they are about these problems, and how they create these problems for us as we confront them.

Beyond the intrinsic interest of these works, our readings will open onto the underlying pragmatic goal of this course, which is to facilitate the development of your critical reflection and writing skills. We will use the questions that this material poses of us, as well as those we pose of it, to construct persuasive and cogent arguments, writing progressively larger essays with progressively more sophisticated conceptual substance. The semester will begin with a short diagnostic essay, followed by three papers of increasing length. A peer review process will help you as you revise at least two of these papers. In all, you will produce at least thirty-two pages of writing over the semester—including drafts and revisions.

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