Reading & Composition

This class will consider gestures in both their literal and figurative senses. We’ll think about physical gestures that come from the body, and we’ll think about what it means to “gesture towards” an idea, practice, or community. When do these literal and figurative senses overlap? How do gestures speak alongside words, at the limits of words, or even when words are not an option?

 

Reading & Composition

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live...” so Joan Didion. For poet Ocean Vuong, a story is a “virtual reality into another world, out of the present” and essayist Rebecca Solnit writes that “stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, … and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of the world.”

Reading & Composition

This course will examine literature and the visual arts alongside and through the rapidly growing field of virtual technologies, emphasizing their medial relationships to literary artwork. Assigned texts will be read alongside and compared to recent adaptations of texts in their various new mediations. This course will also integrate texts and theory drawing from art history, philosophy, computer science, anthropology, cognitive studies, and literary criticism with innovative technologies where such disparate ideas might generate new critical modes and analytical methods.

Reading & Composition

What do we do when we dream? Why do we dream, and what are we to do with our dreams in the morning? Dreams are our hopes and ambitions, but also delusions, fears, and hidden desires. They can furnish us with important messages from our gods, or reveal to us premonitions of the future. Inspiration, whether poetic or scientific, is often said to come from dreams, and we might often call a real-world calamity a nightmare— although a terrifying nightmare can certainly feel like the greatest calamity of all.

Reading & Composition

In this course we pull out the guts of stories to try and understand how storytellers craft works that grip us. In the process we examine classic attempts to say what makes good storytelling and put to the test the idea that any story has certain “rules” that make it successful. 

Reading & Composition

Imagine that you are reading a book and, at some point in the story, you learn that what you are reading is actually the translation of a work written in an ancient language by an author from a faraway land. How would this affect your relation to the book? Would you now consider the story more interesting and valuable? Or would you start suspecting that the translator may have made changes and additions to the story? Would you be worried—or perhaps excited—about the possibility that the text may have alternative interpretations?

Reading & Composition

Reading & Composition

Any mention of ‘landscape’ will usually evoke an image: a photograph, illustration or painting, more horizontal than it is vertical, and bounded by a single, rectangular frame. This course begins with the premise that ‘landscape’ is as useful a concept for thinking through visual art as it is for examining literature. As a class, we will consider how written ‘landscapes’ aestheticize the nonhuman, and what this means when set against other human relationships to the ‘environment’ having to do with histories of agriculture, settlement, industrialization, partition, and war.

Reading & Composition

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.” - Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House (1959)

Reading & Composition

The island is a territory of the imagination that cuts across linguistic and cultural boundaries: a fantasy land of conquest, domination, punishment, and the place of new beginnings outside all that we know. Furthermore, certain islands are defined and expressed, paradoxically enough, through movements, flows, transits, and migrations. In this course we will think together about what makes the island such a rich territory and a site of multiple (and often times contradictory!) expressions. Through a selection (by

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