English R1A

Reading and Composition: Constraints: Physical, Social, Aesthetic

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Fall 2017 Valella, Daniel
MW 5-6:30 89 Dwinelle Reading and Composition

Book List

Dorfman, Ariel: Death and the Maiden; Hamid, Mohsin: The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Hansberry, Lorraine: A Raisin in the Sun; Melville, Herman: Billy Budd, Sailor

Other Readings and Media

Required Films:

Rope (dir. Alfred Hitchock, 1940); 12 Angry Men (dir. Sidney Lumet, 1957); La Noire de… (dir. Ousmane Sembène, 1966); Night of the Living Dead (dir. George A. Romero, 1968); Dog Day Afternoon (dir. Sidney Lumet, 1975); One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (dir. Miloš Forman, 1975); Clue (dir. Jonathan Lynn, 1985); Festen (The Celebration) (dir. Thomas Vinterberg, 1998)


What kinds of boundaries, classifications, and restrictions do we experience in our daily lives? What are our legal obligations; our material confines; our ethnic, gender, and sexual identities; our financial limitations; our diagnoses; our requirements for citizenship or residency? How, if at all, might we escape these many regulations?

When we write—or create art—what rules of grammar, form, and communication must we follow? How do we work with deadlines, word counts, time limits, budgets, and finite resources?

In this course, we will explore these questions as we read, watch, and evaluate artistic works that ensnare us in physical spaces—from cramped apartments to ships at sea to mental hospitals to “safe houses” in a zombie apocalypse. In some cases, these spaces of entrapment or isolation alleviate the social constraints people typically face; in other cases, these spaces intensify such constraints. How might the conditions of the characters, as well as the conditions of the writers and artists, converge with or diverge from our own?

As we analyze the various aesthetic strategies that our authors/directors use to illuminate, resist, or “make the best of” the oppressions of physical and social confinement, we will work on developing our own strategies of critical writing that can do the same. We will begin with two short exercises that emphasize sentence craft and close reading, then shift our focus toward conceptualizing and outlining essay-length arguments, and conclude with work on drafting, revising, and “finalizing” scholarly papers (one 3-page, one 5-page, and one 7-page) in their full form.

Please be advised that all readings and films in the course are required; some texts include graphic violence and sexually explicit subject matter.

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