English R1B

Reading & Composition: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in the Long 20th Century

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
7 Fall 2012 Richards, Jill
TTh 8-9:30 109 Wheeler

Book List

Bolano, Roberto: By Night in Chile; Coetzee, Joseph: Waiting for the Barbarians; Collins, Suzanne: The Hunger Games; Conrad, Joseph: The Secret Agent; Lewis, Wyndham: BLAST 1; Satrapi, Marjane: The Complete Persepolis

Other Readings and Media

A course reader will include selections from Edmund Burke, Karl Marx, Arthur Rimbaud, Louise Michel, Kristin Ross, Janet Lyon, Emma Goldman, F.T. Marinetti, Mina Loy, Andre Breton, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Langston Hughes, W.H. Auden, Assata Shakur, and Giorgio Agamben. Films include Man With a Movie Camera dir. Dziga Vertov, Pan’s Labyrinth dir. Guillermo del Toro, and District Nine dir. Neil Blomkamp. 


In "Modernity and Revolution," Perry Anderson begins with a periodizing claim, arguing that “the haze of social revolution drifting across the horizon of this epoch gave it much of its apocalyptic light for those currents of modernism most unremittingly and violently radical in their rejection of the social order as a whole.” This class will take a closer look at these strains of modernism, beginning in revolutionary France and continuing into the Arab Spring. Moving across prose poems, detective stories, manifestos, agitprop posters, cinema, and the graphic novel, we will look at the way these works speak through and for moments of historical rupture. We will ask ourselves: How can a text tell a historical story? What is the difference between fiction and history? How might a given way of telling a story take sides in a larger conflict?  

To this end, we will think about the formal choices an author makes: Why write a character as flat or round? Why break the poetic line at any given point? Why use a really long sentence or a really short sentence? Why rhyme or not rhyme? What do these choices do?  In class we will disagree, agree, persuade, and generally wander in and around these materials to better understand how they work. These conversations will provide a model for what literary arguments can look like. A portion of the class will be spent working on the writing skills you need to convey such arguments clearly and effectively.  This section of the course will be geared towards creating an original, argumentative thesis, organizing a paper, and avoiding common grammatical mistakes. The writing assignments for the course will include one short diagnostic paper and two longer papers that combine analysis of primary texts with research from secondary sources. Much of this writing will pass through a process of drafting, peer workshop, and revision.

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