English | Projects In Reading and Writing
W170 | 8158-8159 | Taylor


TOPIC:		History, Mystery, and Conspiracy: Secret Societies
and the Stories We Tell About  Them
INSTRUCTOR:	Arwen Taylor

8158		MWF	8:00am  8:50am	SY 212
8159		MWF	9:05am  9:55am	SY 001

Secret societies have been skulking in the corners of Western
civilization since ancient Greece at least, but popular discourse
about them has enjoyed a particular upswing in the last decade with
the appearance of films and novels like The DaVinci Code and
National Treasure. This course will engage a variety of primary
texts, from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Dan Brown to The Simpsons, in
order to examine the cultural meaning of such famous secret
societies as the Templars, the Freemasons, and the Skull and Bones,
as well as the secret-society status of phenomena such as the Greek
system or social networking clubs. Through a series of assignments
designed to develop analytical and writing skills, we will consider
the qualities and function of both the secret societies themselves
and the discourse surrounding them. What are the characteristics of
a secret society? What desires are represented and fulfilled by
secret societies; what anxieties are present in the way they are
portrayed? Students will also be given an opportunity to conduct
their own research into a secret society of their choice, designing
and carrying out their own research project as the capstone to the
course.