E. Laurie George
Explores the workings and evolution of non-fiction prose, Introduces the distinct styles and purposes on non-fiction prose such as autobiography, biography, personal essay, reflective and meditative writing, social and scientific inquiry, and persuasive writing. Recommended: one introductory literature course.
For AUTUMN 2007:
“Good prose is like a window-pane.”
They shut me up in prose— / As when a little girl / They put me in the closet— / Because they liked me "still."
Prose was born yesterday—this is what we must tell ourselves. Poetry is pre-eminently the medium of past literatures. All the metrical combinations have been tried but nothing like this can be said of prose.
“A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out.”
Prose has conventionally been downgraded as “factual,” “straightforward,” “less than poetic,” and “intellectually imaginative”; although any number of poets and playwrights practice the “art” of prose and laud it, critics still debate its value in our culture’s current hierarchy of literary genres. We’ll analyze some of the reasons why as well as investigate the underlying assumptions about the aesthetic and culural values of reading prose in a multitude of forms: fiction, essays, travel biographies, graphic stories, as well as print stories adapted into film.
Print texts include the following: Ann Charters, The Story and its Writer; Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild; Susan Sontag, On Photography.
Student learning goals
Close literary reading and analysis skills for reading prose in print as well as in audiovisual formats
Understanding and articulating literary theory and cultural norms that inform genre standards and literary canons
General method of instruction
Class sessions will be a short lecture and, primarily, critical discussion in small and large groups.
Class assignments and grading
Weekly short objective quizzes and/or short analytical and argumentative/interpretive writing about that week's reading; a longer essay final exam that includes an objective "fact" section about the texts we'll have read.
Class discussion and attendance, quizzes, final exam--this is a class that requires your weekly participation in the discussion.