Reading & Composition
Thinking with Literature, Art, and Film
Do poems take up truths? Can a novel be a way of thinking about something? What can you learn—about yourself, about others, about the world—from a film? This course considers the ways that literature, art, and film are not only a part of our creative imaginations but also central sources of insight into what is real and actual. How do fictional and imaginative works touch what is worldbound? How do they help us see, hear, and understand our world?
All of the course readings will help us think about central philosophical questions—Who are we? How should we live? What do we know?—in compelling ways. We will read broadly across genres, forms, and national traditions. Texts will include poetry (William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes), narrative (Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, J. M. Coetzee), film (Alfred Hitchcock, Agnès Varda), and cultural theory and philosophy (Plato, Nietzsche, Roland Barthes, Toni Morrison).
As a course in the Reading and Composition sequence, this class will focus on developing your skills in critical thinking and clear, graceful, persuasive written expression in the form of the academic essay. We will practice writing and reflect on writing regularly and frequently. Students will write two formal papers, each with revisions, and a final research paper. Other requirements include attendance, engaged and active class participation, and informal writing assignments. All are welcome.