English R1B

Reading and Composition: Silence

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2022 D'Silva, Eliot
MWF 12-1 233 Dwinelle
Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Waiting for Godot; Cage, John: Silence; Cusk, Rachel: Coventry; Scott, Judith: Bound and Unbound

Other Readings and Media

Cain, Susan: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking; Reichardt, Kelly: Wendy and Lucy


How do writers have words to describe silence? How does silence evade speech while also being produced by it? How does silence seek expression in language, metaphors and images? This course tracks the ways in which writers and artists have employed silence both as a literary technique and as a major theme in their works, from the 1950s to the present. We will read texts that engage silence not as an absence of language but as a product of power relations and as a response to the unknown, ineffable and aporetic aspects of existence. The course will also put these texts in dialogue with reflections on silence in affect theory, disability studies and narratology. As an R1B course, the course will provide opportunities for students to pose analytical questions, construct arguments supported by evidence and undertake scholarly research. Over the semester, students will complete assignments including annotated bibliographies, independent and collaborative close analysis, library visits, and a final paper on one of our texts. There might also be opportunities to respond to creative prompts that build on the key terms and concepts of the course, such as keeping a meditation journal. Readings and screenings will include work by Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Rachel Cusk, Kelly Reichardt and Judith Scott.

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