English R1B

Reading and Composition: Conspiracy and Detection

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Fall 2018 Cohan, Nathan
MWF 12-1 45 Evans

Book List

Pynchon, Thomas: The Crying of Lot 49; Reed, Ishmael: Mumbo-Jumbo; Ross, Fran: Oreo

Other Readings and Media

Course reader

John Carpenter, They Live and/or Frances Ford Coppola, The Conversation


This course teaches critical analysis and research skills through their doubles: forensic detection and conspiracy theory. We will therefore consider the disciplinary demands of academic writing in tandem with indisciplined forms of knowledge-production: paranoia, passion project, wild goose chase, hyperstition. Taking the detective as a literary mode rather than as a genre, our main course texts are incompletely generic novels from post-modern America. Alongside scholarly accounts of the generalization of conspiracy-theorizing and shorter literary texts of the paranoiac canon, they will free us up to ask about such topics as: genres of policing as well as the policing of genres; the private detective and corporate conspiracy; documentary evidence and modernist fragmentation; and the cop inside your head.

Students will write, peer-review, and revise a series of progressively longer (2, 5, and 9 page) essays, with the goal of integrating sophisticated and creative readings of literary texts into an existing critical conversation.

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