English | Discovering Literature
L111 | 30957 | Tarez Graban

Tarez Graban

30957 - 9:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m. TR (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

TOPIC:  "Living Literature/Documenting Reality"

What gives literature its “documentary” qualities and what role can
documentaries play in redirecting our beliefs? How do they challenge
or reinforce our expectations of what’s culturally “right,”
socially “ill,” or morally “good”? Are ironic, impassioned, or
satirical depictions of real events any less genuine, authentic,
or “real”? This semester, we will consider these and other questions
as we investigate different writers’ “realities” by reading,
analyzing, and building our own theories about the possibilities and
limitations of the documentary as a rhetorical and literary form.

The semester will be divided into four units, representing different
purposes and complexities of documentary literature, including
social and political critique, uplift, enculturation, and defining
the “good” life. Within each unit, we’ll focus on key concepts to
help us think more about how documentary literature may stem from a
longer tradition of using texts to make a public record and deliver
urgent messages for urgent times. Our covering of genres is eclectic
and vast—including long fiction, polemical essay, memoir, graphic
novel, and film—and some of them have highly persuasive aims. We
will actively explore how texts can be functional and aesthetic, and
how and why various writers have chosen their genres to deliver
messages that were perhaps not so easy to talk about and sometimes
less easy to read. We will conclude the semester by considering how
we should read them, and what kind of audiences we are called to be.

Course Requirements
•	Regular reading, active and engaged participation.
•	Paired presentation. Everyone will have the opportunity to
pair up with a classmate and become a resident “expert” on a
particular concept or term for the semester, which you will then
deliver to the class in 10-minute presentation.
•	3 short critical essays (2-3 pages each)
•	Final exam