English R1B

Reading and Composition: note new topic: The Bonds of Taste

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
14 Fall 2013 Weiner, Joshua J
Weiner, Joshua
TTh 5-6:30 225 Wheeler

Book List

D'Aurevilly: Dandyism; Etherege: The Man of Mode; Miller: Place for Us; Proust: In Search of Lost Time, Vol. 1; Sontag: The Volcano Lover


What does it mean to cultivate "good taste" for oneself? What sorts of social relationships happen when we judge someone else's taste or recognize through their appreciations a kindred spirit? How is taste learned and taught? How does having taste appear as a problem, and how are subjects shaped around the duty to enjoy the cultures around them? Our course will be launched from the eighteenth-century critical texts that first took up taste as a key social problem. When it seems like common sense that each person's taste is different--everyone simply liking what they like--critics became very concerned with how people could like the "right," or at least predictable, things. Readings will be organized around four key figures that embody a will to good taste: the fop, the collector, the dandy, and the snob. As you respond to these materials, thinking about issues like the rise and persistence of consumer culture, the policing of class and gender through tacit judgment, and style as a social practice of selfhood, frequent writing assignments will stimulate you to cultivate your analytical skills. A final research assignment will invite you to reflect on how your own aesthetic judgments bond you to yourself and to others.

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