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

In this class we will examine early philosophies of nature and natural history from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, especially those that focused attention on the human being as a species and the question of its relationship to the environment, in order to analyze their impact on works of literature.

Reading & Composition (closed)

Reading & Composition

In this course we will explore the notion of style across fashion, film, and writing in order to grapple with what is at stake in a surface.

Reading & Composition

Under the regime of idleness, to kill the time, which

kills us second by second, there will be shows and

theatrical performances always and always.

—Paul Lafargue, “The Right to Be Lazy”

 

Was ever idleness like this?

—Emily Dickinson

 

Reading & Composition

The project of reading always involves assuming some authority on the part of the narrator from whose point of view the text unfolds. But just how far does that authority extend? In this course we will explore texts from a wide range of linguistic traditions and historical periods that have particularly complicated relationships with narrative authority and point of view. We will begin with straightforward examples of unreliable narrators who directly or deliberately mislead their readers.

Reading & Composition

Marriages in myths and fairy tales are rarely without extensive trials; folklore is full of lost and monstrous husbands, women’s journeys to retrieve them, and their efforts to flee them.  In this course we will read a core set of narratives about supernatural or otherwise strange relationships — such as Cupid and Psyche, Tam Lin, Beauty and the Beast, and Bluebeard — and think about what these tales do, and what subsequent authors do to them.

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 (closed)

Reading & Composition

Writing strategies and expectations vary among cultures. Spanish writers, for instance, may be surprised to discover that their thoughtful attempts at emphasizing an idea can be seen by English readers as unnecessary repetitions. They may also find themselves wondering why a general reflection, intended to highlight the argument’s complexity, can be perceived, instead, as a digression.

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