English R1B

Holiday Literature

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2010 Drosdick, Alan
MWF 12-1 225 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”; James Joyce “The Dead”; David Sedaris Holidays on Ice; William Shakespeare Twelfth Night; Thomas Kane The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing; a Course Reader.


Holidays find much common ground with literature.  In their ways, both exist outside of time and place by means of their inherent, if relative, universality.  Thanksgiving is not celebrated around the globe, just as Donne is not read the world over, but both hold their places through shared perception and appreciation, their physical trappings– be they books or turkeys– merely symbols through which a greater project might be enacted, namely the poetry or the giving of thanks.  Holidays are strictly dictated by the calendar (Which do you call it, Independence Day or the 4th of July?), but by their very nature function external to the calendar, as one Halloween is the same as the one before it, and is on some level every Halloween.  When celebrating a holiday, we feel like we have stepped out of our lives, and, as Washington Irving puts it, we do not “regulate...time by hours, but by [the smoking of] pipes.”  In short, holidays are magical days when time both stands still and extends back centuries, when the power of symbolism is heightened, and when we feel that on this day we can see a larger picture of both ourselves and the world.  While we shall take holidays as the subject matter for the materials of this course, this is first and foremost a class on writing.  The class will not focus on the assigned literature, but on the students, who will rigorously develop their analytical thinking and writing skills.  Students will learn to develop a working thesis and expand it into a cohesive extended examination of relevant issues regarding the primary texts or films under scrutiny.  Through weekly writing assignments, students will learn to think through writing, improving their ability to assess a work critically and to express the intricacies of their observations.  The final project will ask that students produce a sustained, multifaceted argument, which interprets individually collected research, in the form of a ten-page essay.  The final goal of the course will be to challenge students to become clear, efficient, effective writers.

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