English R1B

Reading and Composition: Representative Men

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Spring 2013 Dumont, Alex
MWF 10-11 225 Wheeler

Book List

Forster, E.M.: Howard's End; Gaskell, Elizabeth: Cranford; Thackeray, William Makepeace: Barry Lyndon; Wordsworth, William and Coleridge, Samuel Taylor: Lyrical Ballads

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings will be posted to bSpace, and will include works by Henry James, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Carlyle, Francis Galton, and others.


This class, which takes its title from a series of lectures by Ralph Waldo Emerson, will examine one of the most basic questions of literature—about whom should we write?—and consider the ways in which this seemingly simple question is not simple at all. Should the subjects of literature be extraordinary, or should they be average? And how, in fact, would we decide what an average person or experience is? Are there certain types of people (poets? workers? residents of the city or the country?) who are somehow more representative than others? We will also think about the ways in which certain texts are seen as representative of a genre, a time-period, or an author’s body of work.

This class is designed to further develop your reading and writing skills, and broaden the scope of your essays to include research. It should also help you to think about your work as part of a larger conversation; one that includes literary criticism, history, and writing in the sciences. To this end, much of our class will be devoted to learning how to make sense of what others have written about a text, and how to respond thoughtfully to these other writers—skills that should serve you well whether your major is in or outside of the humanities.


Back to Semester List