English R50

Freshman and Sophomore Studies: Forms of Minority Writing

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2010 Townsend, Sarah
Townsend, Sarah
TTh 2-3:30 222 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Dangarembga, T: Nervous Conditions; Defoe, D: Robinson Crusoe; Islas, A: The Rain God

Recommended: Booth, W: The Craft of Research


This course will explore the formal interests and strategies of minority authors. “Minority” here is taken not in the U.S. ethnic sense of the word but broadly, and the authors we will examine represent diverse arenas of world literature. Each of the course’s primary texts—Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, Arturo Islas’s The Rain God, Derek Walcott’s Pantomime, and a handful of poems by Eavan Boland, Nuala ni Dhomhnaill, and Medbh McGuckian—takes an outsider’s stance toward canonical literary forms and traditions. We will examine how these texts do so through formal innovation.

English R50 will build upon your R1A training in textual analysis and composition, and it will provide an introduction to literary research. The course is divided into four units to facilitate the integration of reading and research. In each unit we will examine a literary work alongside a variety of research materials that animate the text. Secondary materials will include, but are not limited to, historical and biographical information, the author’s source materials, studies on the development of particular literary forms, works of literary criticism, and other texts or cultural objects to which our authors address themselves. Some of these materials will be distributed in class; you will collect the remainder during the course of your research. Assignments include a research bibliography for each of the four units; an argumentative essay for each of the four units; one research report and oral class presentation; and periodic short writing exercises.

English R50 is intended for students who are planning to be English majors and who have already taken R1A. It satisfies the College’s R1B requirement.

This course may not be counted as one of the twelve courses required for the English major.

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