English R1A

Reading and Composition: Transmission, Tradition, Translation

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
13 Fall 2013 Alexander, Edward Sterling
TTh 2-3:30 222 Wheeler

Book List

Alighieri , Dante: La Vita Nuova; Blake, William: Songs of Innocence and of Experience; Carson, Anne: If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho; Cather, Willa: My Antonia; Ginsberg, Allen: Howl and Other Poems; Pynchon, Thomas: The Crying of Lot 49; Shakespeare, William: Hamlet

Other Readings and Media

Course reader with writings from Walter Benjamin, John Milton, John Keats, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Gary Snyder, Denise Levertov and others. 


How, and to what extent, can one person’s experiences be transmitted to another person?  What would it mean for a made object to enable an encounter in which the perspectives and concerns unique to someone in profoundly distant circumstances somehow seem to become one’s own?  This course will explore the act of imaginative writing as an instance of transmission: a craft of making particular ways of seeing available to others across differences of time and space, culture and media.  In pursuing various transmissions from the literary tradition, we will inevitably circle around the questions of why we read literature and how it can come to matter for us personally. 

One implication of the principle of transmission that we will consider throughout the semester is the notion that all instances of reception entail a corresponding act of translation on the part of the audience, whether we take “translation” in a strict linguistic sense or in the broader sense of making something from one context relevant to another context.  We will therefore consider this strange dynamic through which something is shared by becoming different as it is exemplified in texts that have been translated by other writers, as well as in works that thematically and stylistically deal with experiences of specific artworks.  

Over the course of the semester, students will also develop and hone their skills in academic writing through a series of written assignments, revisions, in-class exercises, and peer workshops. 

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