English R1A

Reading & Composition: Life on the Inside and Outside

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2014 Alexander, Edward Sterling
TTh 12:30-2 222 Wheeler

Book List

Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary; James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw; Shakespeare, William: A Midsummer Night's Dream; Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway; Wordsworth, William: The Major Works

Other Readings and Media

Course reader with writings by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, and Mina Loy, and others. 


Everyone knows that thoughts occur in our heads and refer to the world “out there.”  We may also know that what we experience and refer to as “my head” is a product of what takes place “in” our actual head.  Our actual head we believe to be “out there” in an external world that exists outside of the experience our minds produce.  Debates on the relationship between things-as-they-really-are and things-as-they-appear-to-us have been going on for a long time but show no sign of letting up. Such disputes are threaded through the history of western philosophy from Plato’s allegory of the cave to recent discussions within the fields of cognitive science and the philosophy of mind.

This course will examine the strange reversals of a life viewed alternately from the inside and from the outside.  Each of the works we will consider this semester offers a unique perspective on notions of interiority and exteriority and on the shifting boundaries that separate our versions of the world from the world itself.  In reading these works we will endeavor to think clearly about both our participation in the world and the challenge of genuinely honoring its independence from our vantage points.  Part of your experience in this class will involve interiorizing the course materials as you develop close-reading and critical analysis skills and exteriorizing the products of your mental endeavors in the form of written essays. Students will develop these skills through a series of writing assignments, followed by editing and revision exercises.  Course work includes in-class exercises, peer review, and the production of an abstract and drafts for final papers. 

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