English R1B

Reading and Composition: Hollywood Babylon—The Art of the Episodic in TV and Lit

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Spring 2020 Walter, David
MWF 1-2 233 Dwinelle


In this course we pull out the guts of stories to try and understand how storytellers craft works that grip us. In the process we examine classic attempts to say what makes good storytelling and put to the test the idea that any story has certain “rules” that make it successful. 

With an emphasis on understanding the structures that underpin the TV drama, we will study writers' drafts of The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, learning to interpret screenplay conventions on our way to understanding the complex move from script to screen. We will also read works of fiction, journalism, and memoir whose episodic structuring is suggestive of the arc of the TV season. Such works may include Perez-Reverte’s Queen of the South, Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Saviano’s Gomorrah, and Atwood’s Alias Grace.

In order to prepare students for the writing typically required in college-level courses and in civic discourse, this class teaches the composition of thesis-driven argumentative essays. Students will gain practice in composing brief to medium-length arguments that are focused, clearly organized, well supported and based on accurate critical reading of assigned materials. Students will turn in three formal essays, which they will develop out of written reflections and drafts, In addition, they will make class presentations, and collaborate on final group projects designed to creatively tie together the themes of the class.

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