English 111 A - Spring 2015: Time Travel, Trauma, & Cultural Memory
“Maybe some of them also hurtle through time and see war, war, war. Maybe we’re all in this together.”
-Zits in Sherman Alexie’s Flight
How do societies use literature to work through collective traumas, and what does that have to do with a writing course? Part of what you learn to do in college is make sense of the world around you, and, more importantly, make sense of yourself and how you fit into that world. Writing is communication. Writing is expression. Our course will focus on critically reading and writing about fiction by authors from diverse backgrounds. Each of the course texts employs time travel as a narrative device to create, preserve, and explore cultural memory. You will use literature as the starting point to generate original lines of inquiry through your own work in sophisticated, college-level writing.
This is not a grammar class. While effective writing requires clear, grammatically coherent prose, a college writing course is more concerned with the quality of the ideas that you present in your writing and how you present them. Your goal for this course is not simply to earn a good grade and move on; rather, you will work to develop skills that you will take with you to any course, any job, and any social interaction you will encounter for the rest of your life. This is not a lecture class. You cannot memorize the correct answers. You will return to the same skills again and again, and the only way you will improve is by practicing. Good writers practice every day. The best writers are critical thinkers and critical readers first.