Reading & Composition

Reading & Composition

What does it mean to be the protagonist of a novel whose title bears your name? What loneliness occurs when another protagonist emerges, dividing the time in which you get to appear on the page by half? In this course, we will spend the semester reading Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina alongside several short texts of various genres that speak, in one way or another, to this central problem of division and loneliness.

Reading & Composition

Reading & Composition

This course will explore the construction of gender and the occult, considering the witch from the perspectives of different races and genders, cultures, time periods, and languages.  How does the witch transgress boundaries and norms across different cultures?  Where is she in possession of power, and where is her agency precluded? How do transgressive readings of witches undermine simplistic moral dichotomies of good and evil?

Reading & Composition

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 text? 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 there may be different versions of the text?

Reading & Composition

The frontier is a tricky place to define: within, yet apart; the same, yet different. It shouldn’t surprise us that literary and cinematic depictions of these peculiar spaces often contain unexpected contradictions. Think, for example, of the Hollywood western – the genre most famous for depicting the American frontier. These movies are set on the outskirts of Western civilization, in the forests and deserts of the American West, and yet they’re all about the things that make up civilization: law and order, financial stability, and the family.

Reading & Composition

Work. If you need to earn money to live you’ll have to do it. And it’s mandatory if you want to earn an undergraduate degree. But why do we have to work so hard? Are there any alternatives? And who gets a say in the conditions we work in anyway? These are some of the jumping off points for a class rooted in two ideas: first, that work and the paltry compensation that often accompanies it is too central to our lives to not talk about, and, second, that fictions are a way to think through these questions.

Reading & Composition

Reading & Composition

Misfits, outcasts, strangers, foreigners, and bohemians – writers frequently are, or are preoccupied with, weird people. An absolutely singular personality, character, or appearance remains perpetually fecund material for narrative fixation; conversely, such figures lend themselves to being captivating narrators, providing us with the opportunity to inhabit a truly alien point of view.

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