Reading & Composition

Reading & Composition

Found Documents
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Molly Bronstein
8-9:30 am
4104 Dwinelle

In this course, we will examine found documents as a literary device, i.e., stories that are told through an accumulation of texts, often “found” and assembled by the author or narrator.  Our readings will include examples of epistolary literature as well as experimental tales told through pieces of poetry, critical reviews, footnotes, and gallery labels.  We will also consider horror writers’ particular fondness for found documents, and cases when the mysterious sources of certain materials — and the gaps between texts — represent encounters with the unknown.  Many of our texts will feel rather like puzzles that require a great deal of exertion and involvement from the reader, resulting in a reading practice that can feel highly dialogic.  Students will learn to carefully conduct close readings while considering differences between form and content (e.g., why an author might choose a particular form, such as the letter, or an invented academic text, etc.) and generate persuasive arguments from these readings. 

Since this is a Reading & Composition course (counting towards the second half of the university’s R&C requirement), you can expect to:

-Develop as a close reader — which will require careful and attentive reading and re-reading!

-Learn to construct a unique thesis statement and organized argument, drawing from your close readings.

-Revise your work.  You will read each other’s writing, develop your analytical eye through peer review exercises, and respond to your classmates’ feedback.

-Incorporate outside research into your writing.


Texts may include:

Selections from Ovid’s Heroides

Selections from Dracula by Bram Stoker

Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Kristine Ong Muslim, We Bury the Landscape

Elizabeth Hand, Wylding Hall 

Short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, Sofia Samatar, Carmen Maria Machado, Helen Oyeyemi