English R1A

Reading and Composition: "Work Hard, Play Hard": Work, Leisure, the Victorians and Us

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Spring 2013 Larner-Lewis, Jonathan
TTh 12:30-2 222 Wheeler

Book List

Dickens, C.: Great Expectations; Hardy, T.: The Return of the Native


Work hard, play hard: it's the Berkeley way of life. 

But why do we work so hard? To get a job? To make money? To earn some leisure time? To give our lives meaning? We can shed light on all of these questions and many possible answers by studying an era distant from but strangely parallel to our own. Indeed, many of the kinds of work we do now, at the university and afterwards, and many of our own ways of thinking about work and leisure, came into being in the Victorian period. Certainly they came up for a lot of discussion. We will work over a series of texts (fiction, history, poetry and criticism) about work and leisure in order to spur our own thinking and writing around these issues.

At the same time we will work hard on our own writing, on how we construct sentences and paragraphs, and how we build arguments. Our assignments will progress through increasingly complex applications of these skills in academic discourse. We’ll write a short personal paper at the beginning of the semester, followed by three essays of increasing length, and make use of an extensive peer-review process. This will orient you to your audience, sharpen your critical skills, and improve your writing in the way only heavy revision can. No doubt: writing is hard work. (So why did many Victorians consider it a leisure activity?) 

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