English R1B

Reading & Composition: On the Case

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
21 Spring 2014 Cordes Selbin, Jesse
TTh 5-6:30 222 Wheeler

Book List

Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone; Stevenson, Robert Louis: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Other Readings and Media

A course reader will contain additional readings; more information about where to purchase this will be supplied on the first day of class. 


Do we gain a new perspective when we represent something as a "case"? How do we narrate the development and confines of a case? Is a case intended to showcase the unusual or extraordinary or, perhaps conversely, the typical or the real? This course examines the case form in a variety of novels, poems, stories, and non-fictional texts. A substantial portion of the course will focus on cases in mystery and detective fiction, including 19th-century works by Wilkie Collins, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Browning, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Edgar Allan Poe, as well as in mid-20th-century films such as North by Northwest and The Birds. A secondary portion of the course will take us on a detour through the Victorian realist case, for which we will read works by George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Harriet Martineau, and Henry Mayhew. In addition, we will occasionally read secondary critical accounts by theorists of the case form, from Adam Smith to Lauren Berlant.

Building on general skills of exposition and argumentation learned in R1A, this R1B course focuses on the more specific demands of research practices and research writing. As a broad conceptual framework for this pursuit we will spend the semester exploring the analogy between research and detective work, looking both at where the metaphor holds and where it breaks down. Students in this course will outline, draft, workshop, write, and rewrite multiple papers of increasing length, culminating in a final project involving substantial research in the library and online.

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