English R1B

Reading & Composition: Quarrels with Ourselves

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2012 Emerson, Maude
MWF 1-2 225 Wheeler

Book List

Hacker, Diana: Rules for Writers, 6th edition ; Hass, Robert (ed.): Song of Myself and Other Poems by Walt Whitman; Larsen, Nella: Passing; Nabokov, Vladimir: Lolita;

Recommended: Yeats, W.B.: The Collected Poems

Other Readings and Media

A course reader containing selections from W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Edgar Allan Poe, Wallace Stevens, Countee Cullen, and Derek Walcott, in addition to some secondary and critical materials


“Out of our quarrels with others we make rhetoric. Out of our quarrels with ourselves we make poetry.” – W.B. Yeats

In this college writing course, we will study works of literature that record an author’s quarrels with his or herself. How do various literary genres accommodate different kinds of quarrels? What are the forces that can prevent a person from making up her mind? What does she stand to gain by sustaining ambivalence, and what does she risk losing? The authors we will read in this course find themselves divided on questions of love, identity, politics, and aesthetics. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which they give their dilemmas literary form, beginning with Yeats and the special status he claims for poetry before moving on to consider the essay, the story, and the novel. Through exploring the many modes of ambivalence, oscillation and indecision that literature can entertain, you will both hone your analytical skills and get acquainted with the language and structure of argument. You will practice using both of these skill sets, the analytical and the argumentative, in a number of essays and other writing assignments. This course also provides an introduction to research skills. At least one of the papers (and several of the shorter assignments) will ask you to find and evaluate secondary sources and incorporate them gracefully into your writing.

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