English R1A

Reading & Composition: The Ick Factor

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Fall 2015 Clark, Rebecca
TTh 12:30-2 222 Wheeler

Book List

Anderson, Sherwood: Winesburg, Ohio; O'Connor, Flannery: A Good Man is Hard to Find; West, Nathanael: Miss Lonelyhearts

Other Readings and Media

The Night of the Living Dead, dir. George Romero, 1968; South Park, dir. Matt Stone and Trey Parker: selected episodes; Broad City, dir. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, 2014: selected episodes.

A course reader will include selections from the likes of Charles Chesnutt, Edgar Allan Poe, Shirley Jackson, William Faulkner, and Sylvia Plath.


How does ickiness work? What makes something grotesque? Why, so often, are we also laughing? This course will examine various texts that have that special something that turns our tummies. We will look at novels, stories, and films that generate discomfort—digestive and otherwise—and explore the various lines they toe and tangle: between horror and humor, perversion and pathos, attraction and repulsion. Tackling issues of excess, deformity, and taboo, this course will explore how various ick factors, at specific historical junctures, confront and cross fraught boundaries—of gender, race, and sexuality, among others—and why we both love and loathe it so much when they do.

In this course, you will be asked to write several short essays of increasing length in order to develop your academic reading and writing skills. We will work on reading critically, posing analytical questions, and crafting and supporting well-reasoned arguments through both these papers and additional in-class exercises. Students will be asked to draft, revise, and peer-review their written assignments over the course of the semester.

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