English R1B

Reading and Composition: Living Pasts: Cultural Memory and Historical Narrative

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Spring 2019 Cho, Jennifer
MWF 11-12 233 Dwinelle


This course explores what it means to encounter seemingly "dead" pasts, often traumatic, through artistic and cultural productions and how, through that encounter, such pasts are relived and reimagined. Together we will examine narratives of cultural and historical trauma that attempt to represent what cannot be represented. Clinically defined, trauma is an occurrence that misses psychic registration and returns as a series of haunting symptoms, and we will explore how certain writers have created a space for those symptoms to manifest in the stories they tell. 

These questions may frame our line of inquiry as you also take on the task of becoming adept scholars: How do writers attempt to capture what defies representation, and why might they be compelled to impart their "trauma" narratives to their audience? How might we better understand how and why certain communities rally around traumatic histories to further cement group identity? What kind of ethical response do these narratives inspire since, as consumers of these narratives, we are choosing to bear witness? How might the way we choose to remember affect our perceived loyalty as citizens?

Writing assignments for this course will include two short essays and a longer argument-driven, research project. Weekly written responses, in-class writing workshops, and peer review and collaboration will also be incorporated. 

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