English R1B

Reading and Composition: Record Keeping

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
10 Spring 2016 Lewis, Rachel Thayer
MW 4-5:30 225 Wheeler

Book List

Barthes, Roland: Camera Lucida; James, Henry: The Aspern Papers; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein; Wordsworth, Dorothy: The Grasmere Journals; Wordsworth, William: The Prelude

Other Readings and Media

Additional texts, along with video and audio files, will be posted to the bcourses site.  


This course will explore the ways in which we attempt to capture, preserve, and convey our experiences.  We will trace how these forms—or media—structure our memories, and how they may also obscure or distort past experience.  Reading across a variety of literary genres and other media, we will contextualize forms of expression in light of historical and cultural forces and consider how cultural, political, and technological conditions inflect various modes of representation.  Centering our study around two periods, the mid-nineteenth century, which witnessed the rise of photography and early sound recording, and more recent decades, which produced the internet, we will delve into what kinds of differences a medium makes. How does a poem on the page construct a different sort of record than an audio recording of a poem?  How does a print diary differ from a blog? 

The central aim of this course is to develop and refine critical thinking, reading, writing, and research skills.  While we will address issues of mechanics and style, the emphasis will be on how to gather evidence, organize and support claims, engage secondary materials, and ultimately formulate well-researched and well-reasoned arguments for clear, persuasive essays.  To that end, this course entails one short diagnostic essay (assigned during the first week of the semester) and three critical essays of increasing length, culminating in a final research project (~10 pages).  Students are responsible for careful completion of all reading and writing assignments as well as active participation in class discussion and peer review.  

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