English | Intro to Writing & Study of Literature 2
L142 | 1908-1914 | John L. Schilb
Topic: "GOING PUBLIC: PRIVATE LIVES AND PUBLIC GENRES"
Currently, we seem to live in an age of disclosure. Through
television shows, films, and books, we learn all sorts of things that
people used to hold private. For example, news reports of the
Clinton/Lewinsky scandal gave us startling details of the President's
sex life, and most any episode of "Jerry Springer" exposes intimate
family traumas. This course will focus on the issues raised by such
revelations. In particular, we will ponder the ethics of keeping and
revealing secrets, even as we bear in mind that the "truth" can be
hard to identify. We will examine a variety of novels, plays, poems,
autobiographies, and films, including works from earlier periods.
The course will be divided into four units. First, we will look at
two well-known texts about family secrets, Henrik Ibsen's play "A
Doll's House" and Toni Morrison's novel, THE BLUEST EYE. Next, we
will read a pair of novels, J.D. Salinger's THE CATCHER IN THE RYE and
Albert Camus' THE FALL, both of which leave readers figuring out how
to judge a confession's reliability. In the third unit, we will look
back at the 1950s, when the U.S. government forced many Americans to
confess their involvement with leftist organizations and name other
members of them. Specifically, we will relate Arthur Miller's play
"The Crucible" and Elia Kazan's film, "On the Waterfront" to this era.
The last part of the course will center on newer works in which
personal stories become public, including Tim O'Brien's novel, IN THE
LAKE OF THE WOODS, Mary Gordon's memoir, "The Shadow Man," the
television adaptation of Donald Margulies' play "Collected Stories,"
and Paul Auster's novel CITY OF GLASS.
Since this is also a composition course, the lectures and the class
discussions will spend much time considering how to write about the
material we analyze. Writing assignments will include four short
position statements (2 pages each) and two longer papers (3-4 pages
each). There will also be midterm and final examinations.
Section 1908 - lecture. Sections 1909-1914 - discussions.