English R1B

Reading & Composition: Unprotected Texts: Tales Told and Retold

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
13 Spring 2014 Hsu, Sharon
MW 4-5:30 222 Wheeler

Book List

Austen, Jane: Emma; Forster, E.M.: Howards End; Shakespeare, William: Twelfth Night; Smith, Zadie: On Beauty

Other Readings and Media

A course reader will include excerpts from Homer's Odyssey and James Joyce's Ulysses.  Critical essays will be distributed via bSpace.

Films: She's the Man; Clueless; O Brother, Where Art Thou?


What does it mean to re-imagine a Modernist novel as a series of e-mails?  Or to put the words of a beloved Jane Austen heroine into the mouth of a teenage valley girl?  And why do so many film versions of Shakespeare's plays take place in high schools?  In this course, we will explore a series of texts and what we might call their counter-texts – novels and films that speak back to or against the original work by reimagining its themes, characters, or settings in a significant way.  In doing so, we will ask questions such as: Why do some texts lend themselves to this kind of counter-textuality more than others?  How does a counter-text comment on, critique, or subvert its original?  And is it ever possible to read a counter-text apart from its original text? 

The purpose of this class is to refine comprehension and analytical skills, improve writing, and broaden the scope of your essays to include research. To that end, we will devote considerable class time to learning how to find and analyze what others have written about a text (another form of counter-text, if you will) and how to respond thoughtfully to these other writers.  The efforts of this class will culminate in a large research paper of the student's own design.

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