English R1A

Reading & Composition: Educating the Creature

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
21 Fall 2012 Naturale, Lauren
MWF 12-1 189 Dwinelle

Book List

Austen, Jane: Emma; Godwin, William: Caleb Williams; Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: Emile; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein; Wollstonecraft, Mary: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Other Readings and Media

Clueless. Dir. Amy Heckerling. Paramount, 1995. 


"Well, sir, after all, I cannot help feeling very uncomfortably as to my ideas of human nature, when I find that there is no dependence to be placed upon its perseverance, and that, at least among the illiterate, the most promising appearances may end in the foulest disgrace."

"You think, then, that literature and a cultivated mind are the only assurance for the constancy of our principles!"

"Humph!--why do you suppose, sir, that learning and ingenuity do not often serve people rather to hide their crimes than to restrain them from committing them? History tells us strange things in that respect."

-- William Godwin, Caleb Williams (1794)

This writing course focuses on theories of education. What power do books have (or not have) to shape a developing character? Does the way we are raised determine who we will become? If we want to enact radical change in the world, what changes do we need to make in the way we educate our citizens? These are broad questions, but our reading will be comparatively narrow: beginning with selections from Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (which argues not so much that women are equal, but that they *could* be equal if society was better organized) we will move to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and from there to Caleb Williams by William Godwin (Wollstonecraft's husband and Shelley's father). We'll conclude with two books by people who are, astonishingly, not related to Mary Shelley in any way: Rousseau's  Emile: or, on Education (excerpt)and Jane Austen's Emma, which takes a rather different look at the question of how one might learn to perceive the world accurately - - and in which the title character's own attempts to educate or fix her friend Harriet go disastrously awry. So: our somewhat nebulous topic will be anchored by a reading list organized tightly around a specific moment in time.

The goal of this class is to improve your writing! Students will complete one two page diagnostic essay and three subsequent short essays (each of which will be revised).


Back to Semester List