English R1A

Reading & Composition: Perception and Revolution

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Fall 2012 O'Connor, Megan
MWF 2-3 222 Wheeler

Book List

Austen, Jane: Northanger Abbey; Melville, Herman: Billy Budd, Sailor and Selected Tales; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein

Other Readings and Media

Course Reader that may include shorter texts by Mary Wollstonecraft, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Jose Martí, Margaret Fuller, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman and others.


"But these enchantments were a little disenchanted as his eye fell on the corroded main-chains."                                                          - Herman Melville

As an R&C course, this R1A class will focus on writing skills.  We will practice and discuss the different elements that make up a strong paper, with special attention to argumentation and exposition.  Students will have multiple opportunities to edit and rework drafts of papers.

We will engage the assigned readings – novels, poems, short stories, and essays – as texts that challenge us to read with greater attention to detail, think more critically, write with more precision, and argue with greater nuance.  More specifically we will follow the assigned texts in asking questions about perception and what we might think of as revolutions in perception.  What happens when perception reaches a kind of crisis?  To what extent does a change in perception really produce change?  What are the advantages as well as limitations of visual metaphors?  We will pay particular attention to instances in the texts where perception is contested, unintelligible, altered, contradicted, and changed over the course of time or even an instant.  As we use our guiding concepts and metaphors of ‘perception’ and ‘revolution’ as a means for engaging the texts, we will also use the texts as ways of challenging our guiding concepts.


• Short diagnostic paper

• A minimum of 32 pages of writing, divided among papers of 2-4 pages in length

• Revisions of at least three of these papers

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