English R1B

Reading & Composition: Reader's Block

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
20 Spring 2014 Vandeloo, David Conigliaro
TTh 3:30-5 225 Wheeler

Book List

Chaucer, Geoffrey: Canterbury Tales (selected); Eliot, T.S.: The Wasteland; James, Henry: Turn of the Screw; James, Henry: What Maisie Knew; MacLow, Jackson: 154 Forties; Markson, David: Reader's Block; Marlowe, Christopher: Dr. Faustus; Pynchon, Thomas: The Crying of Lot 49; Stein, Gertrude: Tender Buttons

Other Readings and Media

Various handouts, diagrams and supplemental readings.  


This course takes its title from David Markson’s novel—which itself takes its title from some experience we have all probably felt some time or another. Yet such a ubiquitous feeling is difficult to come to terms with. The intensity of reader’s block seems to emerge somewhere between a compulsion and exhaustion, where, at least speculatively, we might say exhaustion is both the possibility of logic’s physicality and a complex of energies independent from tiredness. In this course we will read texts that exhaust us and themselves, texts that challenge us (exhaustively) to put pressure on what we mean when we say we are reading—and thus, what we may mean when we say we are not reading what we are reading. We will read across times and borders, we will read texts reading texts, texts reading our writings of the text we are reading, and texts writing somewhere between what we are not reading and what we can’t read, if only because what we are reading hasn’t been written yet. However, whether we are reading and/or not reading, whether we are a merely attempting to think with what we become as we dream our thinking, we will constantly return to one simple question: How do we read what we are reading and maybe not reading?  By giving our ears to this basic refrain we will ask ourselves if we can hear what we haven’t heard? What happens to these ears we give to what eludes representation, to what eludes anything that figures the impossibility of eluding?

Throughout the semester we will work together on research skills, writing, critical thinking, conversation and reading, through readings, conversations, analyses, speculations, writings, group presentations and research.  

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