English R1B

Reading and Composition: The Art of Conscience

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2015 Yu, Esther
MWF 2-3 225 Wheeler

Book List

Defoe, Daniel: Moll Flanders; Dickens, Charles: Hard Times; Shakespeare, William: Hamlet

Other Readings and Media

A course reader will include selections from the Bible and Shakespeare's sonnets; additional critical readings will also be provided.


What kind of knowledge, or science, does the conscience impart, and how does it make this knowledge manifest? What evidentiary standards apply to this kind of knowledge? This course will examine such questions through the lens of the literary imagination. For all its associations with the cognitive faculties, the conscience has often been endowed with a peculiar responsiveness to fiction. The conscience, given its ability to fire the imagination, might even be figured as a creative principle of fiction itself. In the course of the semester, we'll acquaint ourselves with the conscience in its various guises, from the relentless prosecutor who induces paranoia to the silent companion who stirs in the twilight of life. Along the way, we'll reflect upon its shifting locus (from external to internal and back again), and consider its relationship to consciousness. The entanglement of conscience in both the arts and the sciences will further suggest avenues for reconciling our literary pursuits with the work of other disciplines.

The critical writing skills which are the focus of R1A will be supplemented in this course with training in research methods. Students in this course will produce at least two essays and one longer, research-based paper.



Back to Semester List