English R1B

Reading and Composition: Factual Fictions of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
25 Fall 2022 Struhl, Abigail
TuTh 6:30-8 Dwinelle 250

Book List

Equiano, Olaudah: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; Melville, Herman: Benito Cereno; NourbeSe Philip, M.: Zong!


Fake News! Alternative Facts! In recent years, our political discourse has been polarized, each side accusing the other of fudging the facts. But just what is a fact? And what if the opposite of fact isn’t understood as lying, but rather as fiction? This course will examine transatlantic case studies from and about the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries--the period in which fiction came to be recognized and celebrated as a creative resource, rather than denigrated as mere deception. Accounts of the Atlantic slave trade will be of particular interest for thinking through the question of what fiction can do to challenge and subvert accepted “facts” about who deserves to have authority in a radically unequal society.

Questions of genre and authority will also be at the forefront of discussions of our own academic writing as we work toward the writing of a research essay. What are the conventions of academic writing and research? How is this “factual” form of writing distinguished from other genres? What are the linguistic and conceptual markers of facticity? Is there any place for generic experimentation in the writing of an academic paper? And finally, what does it mean to write with authority in the college classroom, and, more generally, in today’s socially and politically polarized landscape?

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