English R1A

Reading & Composition: Electoral Fictions

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Session Course Areas
2 Summer 2017 Mansky, Joseph
TuWTh 1:00-3:30 85 Evans D

Book List

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay: The Federalist Papers; Naipaul, V. S.: The Suffrage of Elvira; Shakespeare, William: Coriolanus

Other Readings and Media

Course reader including short stories by Mark Twain, Isaac Asimov, Chinua Achebe, and Sterling A. Brown; speeches by Susan B. Anthony, Emmeline Pankhurst, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Barack Obama, among others; and a selection of recent articles and op-ed columns.

Television and Film: The West Wing (TV series, 1999-2006); House of Cards (TV series, 2013-present); No (film), dir. Pablo Larrain (2012).


In modern democracies, voting is the primary way in which the average citizen participates in politics. Throughout history and around the world, however, elections have been plagued by corruption and propaganda, racism and sexism. This course explores voting's power and problems across literature, speeches, polemic, television, and film. Who gets to vote? What can voting achieve? What are the limits of voting? We will read key texts from the women's suffrage movement and the civil rights movement; we will study Shakespeare, science fiction, and satire; we will examine works from the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa. Across these different cultures, historical moments, and political contexts, we will investigate voting not only as a form of political participation but also as a human practice inevitably bound up with issues of race, class, gender, and power. As we explore these questions over the course of the summer, you will hone your skills in critical reading and writing.

This 4-unit course will be taught in Session D, from July 5 to August 10.

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