English R1B

Reading & Composition: Modernism, Perception, and the Reader

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
22 Spring 2018 Clancy, Brian
MWF 1-2 122 Latimer

Book List

Aristotle: Poetics; Beckett, Samuel: Waiting for Godot; Eliot, T.S.: Four Quartets; Joyce, James: "The Dead"; Joyce, James: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Shakespeare, William: Macbeth; Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway

Other Readings and Media

Bertolt Brecht, "The German Drama: Pre-Hitler"; Walter Benjamin, "What Is Epic Theater?"; T.S. Eliot, "Hamlet and His Problems"; Virginia Woolf, "A Sketch of the Past," "The Mark on the Wall"


In this course, you will learn how to write a paper using the skills of analysis and argumentation. As we learn techniques to improve our critical reading and writing strategies, the course theme will largely examine the role perception plays within early-20th-century novels during a period known as modernism. Our focus on perception also entails how a reader relates to a story. In Aristotle's definitive work from antiquity The Poetics, dramatic literature derives its effectiveness from the creation of an emotional response in a spectator who then sympathizes with the fate of a tragic character. In contrast, modernism appears especially concerned with the other ways in which a reader might relate to a story. For example, a philosophy of perception (involving both the character's perception of things and the reader's connection to this mode of perception) plays an important role in James Joyce's modernist novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Here Stephen Dedalus presents us with the idea of an "epiphany." This visually perceived epiphany takes the form of an object (specifically, a basket) which stands out from other things in the story. Joyce thus encourages his readers to contemplate the appearances which Stephen sees. In Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway, the metaphor of a match struck in a sudden moment similarly plays a role in Clarissa Dalloway's perception of the external world. While also considering the work of modernist authors like T.S. Eliot, Bertolt Brecht, and Samuel Beckett, we will examine the concepts of perception and reading in relation to the concept of time.

During the semester, we will perform exercises in which students will learn to select specific quotations from the assigned reading and analyze these quotations for the sake of creating original arguments.

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