English R1B

Reading and Composition: The Love Story

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Fall 2022 Choi, 최 Lindsay || Lindsay Chloe
MWF 11-12 DWIN263

Book List

Recommended: Barthes, Roland: A Lover's Discourse

Other Readings and Media

Course materials will be available as PDFs, or, upon request, course readers.


What does it mean, in Taylor Swift's 2008 hit single “Love Story,” when the besotted speaker declares, “It's a love story, baby, just say, 'Yes'” -- and what, in this declaration, is the difference between the love story and love itself?

Along these lines of inquiry, this course will teach critical reading and writing skills through the "love story" as a literary genre and as a narrative mode which attempts to describe a particular social relationship. In our investigation of the love story, we will learn to analyze the relationship between genre and our experience of the world, and more broadly, to interrogate the work of literature in mediating reality. Our readings will draw from a variety of forms and media, including poetry, letters, short stories, and, potentially, reality television. We will also engage in critical conversations after reading some literary criticism and cultural theory, including Roland Barthes's A Lover's Discourse. Among others to be determined, texts for this course will include sonnets from Petrarch and Shakespeare, selected love letters from Franz Kafka to his translator, Milena Jesenská, and excerpts from Madame de Lafayette's The Princess of Cleves. Some further questions we might consider include: Can "the love story" be historicized? How can language be used to narrate a romance? What makes for a "good" love story? Why do we care to hear about other people's love stories? 

The aim of this course will be to exercise our skills in reading and writing on literary texts, and to think critically about our analytic methods, as well as how, why, and to what end we might believe that they work. 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.

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