English R1B

Reading and Composition: Octavia Butler: Writing the Body

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
14 Fall 2021 Homans-Turnbull, Marian
TTh 8-9:30 200 Wheeler

Book List

Butler, Octavia: Kindred; Butler , Octavia: Lilith's Brood; Butler , Octavia: Seed to Harvest

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings will be made available on bCourses.


How does a body relate to an inner self, a mind, or a person? How does a body relate to an outer world? 

This course will consider the particular ways in which fiction can explore these questions. We will focus on three novels by speculative fiction writer Octavia Butler: DawnWild Seed, and Kindred. With the help of a selection of critical and historical essays, we will consider Butler’s novels through the lenses of disability, race, and gender—and develop students’ research skills by using novels and essays to illuminate each other. Practicing critical reading skills, we will consider the arguments Butler’s stories make about human identity, and the role of literary and rhetorical techniques in making them. We will consider the ways critical arguments in turn make use of stories. 

We will be guided, finally, by the goal of developing your writing skills. We will talk not only about how course readings make arguments but also about how to identify compelling research questions, engage in critical conversations, and make persuasive arguments of your own. Student writing will constitute an important third category of course material: in addition to regular reading responses, you will develop, draft, peer-edit, and revise two essays including a final research essay. 

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