By reading poetry, novels, and essays about writers and writing we will begin to talk about what literature is and what it is for. Aesthetic elements will be prominent in our discussion, but we will also focus on the political and social effects of literature. In particular, we will discuss the rules of literature and of writing.What are the rules? Why do they exist? What can be done within the constraints of rules and forms. How and why do writers break them? We will also consider the use of imagery and genre as elements of form. To discuss the the "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" of writing we will begin by reading a selection of ars poetica (poems about poetry). As you begin writing essays for the class, we will read some other essayists discussions of non-fiction prose writing and reading before moving on to reading a novel (or two) to discuss genre, imagery, authorship, and form.
As part of this course meditating on the effects and purposes of writing, you will be required to write two essays: One 4 page midterm, and one 6 page final essay. Both essays will go through draft and revision processes with teacher and peer review. Participation in these review process will be part of our developing conversation on the theme of the course. The writing and revision requirements for this course fulfill the W credit. This course also fills the VLPA requirement.
Grade calculation will be roughly:
25% Essay 1 (4 pages)
40% Essay 2 (6 pages)
15% Participation (based on pop-quizzes, 2-3 discussion questions submitted over the course of the quarter, participation in in-class discussion in small and large groups)
10% Peer Review paper
10% In-class presentation.
Reading selections are subject to change, but are likely to include:
Poetry: Pablo Neruda "?Poetry", Robert Hass, "Meditation at Lagunitas" Marianne Moore "Poetry", Horace "Ars Poetica", Alexander Pope "Sound and Sense" and/or "Essay on Criticism", Wallace Stevens "The Idea of Order at Key West", Nikki Giovanni "kidnap poem" and "My Poem".
Novels: (we definitely won't read all of these): Italo Calvino If On a Winters' Night a Traveler, Vladimir Nabokov Pale Fire, or Orhan Pamuk Black Book.