English R1B

Reading & Composition: American Beauties

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
16 Spring 2014 Fleishman, Kathryn
TTh 9:30-11 225 Wheeler

Book List

Eugenides, Jeffrey: The Virgin Suicides; Mailer, Norman: An American Dream; Nabokov, Vladimir: [The Annotated] Lolita

Other Readings and Media

There will be a course reader available at the beginning of the semester.


This course will explore the crystallization and dissemination of a set of uniquely American aesthetic ideals over the past seventy years of U.S. cultural production. We will take “the short American century” as our sample period to address how ideas of beauty are produced in cultural and temporal experience. In particular, we will consider issues of gender and sexuality and how they are bound up with an insistence upon violence in contemporary American art, as well as why the very texts that most disturb us often form the locus of beauty in our cultural imagination. (Please note that in our exploration of these questions, we will look at a number of novels, films, and works of art containing sexually explicit and/or violent scenes. If you think you will find exposure to such works unpalatable, you may wish to consider another R1B section.)

  • R1B is a writing-intensive course designed to hone your skills in reading, rhetoric, and research. As such, we will engage a variety of texts across genres (novels, film, television, art, & criticism). We will also practice responding to such texts variously, writing analytically, critically, and personally about aesthetics in America. The semester will conclude with an 8-10 page research paper on a topic of your own devising.


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