English R1B

Reading and Composition: Have You Lost Your Mind? Contesting Impressions in Literature, 1873-1973

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
16 Spring 2016 Creasy, CFS
TTh 2-3:30 222 Wheeler

Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable; Johnson, B.S.: Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry; Joyce, James: Dubliners; Woolf, Virginia: To the Lighthouse

Other Readings and Media

A film screening T.B.D.

A course reader with excerpts from Walter Pater, W.B. Yeats, Roger Fry, Rebecca West, Wyndham Lewis, Djuna Barnes, T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, and various literary critics of these authors.


Virginia Woolf famously wrote that “on or about December 1910, human character changed.” In her view, the exciting and experimental works of modernism—written by authors like T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Woolf herself—came out of the search for new ways to express this new human character. Many have followed Woolf in considering the masterworks of modernism in terms of changes of the modern age: new ideas about psychology and the inner experience of the individual, war, technology, and an increasingly complex and urban world. In this course, we will spend time thinking about the (often uncritically assumed) emphasis on character, inner experience, and the individual. Not only will we trace the ways that it is illuminating about what makes modernist works so daring, so emotionally powerful, and so difficult; we will also try to think about ways that modernism and its heirs think beyond, beneath, or in opposition to the individual, the character, and interiority.

Building on what you have already learned in the first of the Reading and Composition courses, this second course will use the questions that this material poses of us, as well as those we pose of it, to develop your critical reflection as well as your writing and research skills that will culminate in a larger research paper at the end of the semester. Our attention will be devoted in large part to approaching a research paper as a series of cumulative but individually small and manageable pieces. Supplementing the successively longer and successively more revised essays, these intermediate steps will include things like peer editing, an annotated bibliography, and a draft outline.

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