English R1A

Reading & Composition: History and Form

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
17 Fall 2012 Garcia, Marcos Albert
TTh 3:30-5 35 Evans

Book List

Defoe, Daniel: A Journal of the Plague Year; Gower, John: Confessio Amantis, Volume 1; MacMillan, Margaret: Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History; Portelli, Alessandro: The Death of Luigi Trastulli, and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History; Shakespeare, Wm.: Richard III; White, Hayden: The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation

Other Readings and Media

Course Packet:  Comparative selections of ancient, medieval, and early modern epics, chronicles, biographies, autobiographies, romances, and world, national, and ecclesiastical histories, with an emphasis on texts produced in England.  Short theoretical selections from Marx, Ranke, Benjamin, de Certeau, etc.


The goal of this course is to explore the conventions, contexts, and uses of writing about the past.  We will investigate historical "writing" in a variety of media (oral recitation, chronicles, poetry, plays, novels, film, etc.) and historical periods (ancient, medieval, early modern, contemporary, etc.), concentrating on the manner in which particular linguistic, rhetorical, generic, visual, and technical conventions produce distinctive conceptions of the past that reflect and respond to specific historical conditions and crises.  This will mean learning some principles of literary criticism (both historicist and formalist), and applying them to a wide range of texts both in our class discussions and in the written assignments.  The readings will consist on the one hand of several theoretical works to frame our discussions of the problems, and on the other of samplings from ancient, medieval, and early modern history writing, culminating in three longer works by Gower, Shakespeare, and Defoe. 

The written assignments will primarily be analyses of particular texts or problems, but one assignment will involve producing an actual historical text. You will write a 2-page diagnostic essay early in the semester.  You will then write three 4-page papers, each of which you will revise one time.  Finally, you will choose one of those 4-page papers to revise and expand into a final 6-page paper.

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