English R1A

Reading and Composition: Aspiring Minds and Expelling Bodies: A Brief Survey of Satire

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
10 Spring 2013 Jeziorek, Alek M
TTh 3:30-5 222 Wheeler

Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Happy Days; Conrad, Josef: The Secret Agent; Flaubert, Gustav: Bouvard and Pécuchet; More, Thomas: Utopia; Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver's Travels; Waugh, Evelyn: Vile Bodies

Other Readings and Media

"A Modest Proposal," by Jonathan Swift; Selections from "Wild Body" by Wyndham Lewis


As the first course in the Reading and Composition series, this class will work to develop your ability to read and write critically. To that end, this class requires that you write several short essays of increasing length and sophistication as well as other shorter writing assignments. In order to help you succeed, we’ll focus on reading closely, asking great questions, developing effective arguments, organizing paragraphs in structured and meaningful ways, and revising drafts.

Satire will frame our reading for the semester. We will explore satire’s vexed status as an ethical, political, and moral “corrective,” which almost always assumes the guise of the very thing it aims to critique. Satire seems to enjoy vice before it lampoons it. Our response, laughter, is, of course, a pleasant reaction of the body, but it implicates our own enjoyment of vice, too. While satire seems to tend asymptotically toward utopia, or the ideal, it constantly trips over bodies.  As we progress in our survey, we’ll begin to question our assumptions about satire and study it as a strange constellation of utopia and dystopia, the ideal and bodily, the good and the cruel. We might address the following questions. How does satire actually relate to those serious categories—ethics, politics and morality? Is satire ultimately conservative or subversive? Is satire serious and, if so, how do we ultimately relate its ridiculous methods to this high seriousness? Why are our bodies funny and why do they matter?

Back to Semester List