English R1B

Reading and Composition: Sick

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2022 Cohan, Nathan
MWF 10-11 122 Wheeler

Book List

Butler, Octavia: Clay's Ark (978-1538751503); Lorde, Audre: The Cancer Journals (978-0143135203); Sontag, Susan: Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors (978-0312420130)


This course teaches reading, writing, and researching skills through a survey of sickness as a bodily and social condition and as a literary resource and mode. Students will practice formal analysis of texts in a variety of media including fiction, memoir, poetry, and film, and will enter existing critical conversations after reading some theories of sickness as a cultural phenomenon and as an ambivalently communicable experience. Topics will include historical conceptions of the body and disease, the healthiness or sickness of literature in general, and fictional, sometimes fantastical diseases. Readings include works by Giovanni Boccaccio, John Donne, Virginia Woolf, Susan Sontag, Audre Lorde, and Octavia Butler; viewings include works by Forugh Farrokhzad, Marlon Riggs, Todd Haynes, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Students will write, peer-review, and rewrite a series of literary-critical essays, with the goal of fostering attentive reading and viewing, imaginative analysis, and bold writing. As this course fulfills the R1B requirement, we will focus on scaling progressively longer essays and incorporating research.

Back to Semester List