Fall 2012 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
This course offers undergraduate majors in the School of Arts and Humanities an advanced approach to the problems of interpretation central to artistic and humanistic practice, and the role of reading and writing in interpretation. The course will focus on developing specific skills in a series of writing exercises: exposition, interpretive close reading, formal analysis, and comparative analysis. The course will focus on a specific historical period and a body of selected writings in the various disciplines within A&H as a way to organize our approach to reading and writing. In this class we will be looking at post-World War II American texts, including novels, short stories, cultural criticism, philosophy, film, political thought, poetry, and sociology. By paying close attention to the common and divergent approaches in a wide array of genres, the class will also address the problem of historical interpretation and synthesis. Some themes arising in the texts of this era include: the Cold War and its cultural consequences; the Civil Rights movement and issues of racial equality; domestic concerns over the roles of men and women; consumerism and abundance; and the rise of a youth culture.
Possible texts include excerpts from:
James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son
David Riesman, The Lonely Crowd
Dwight Macdonald, "Masscult and Midcult"
Hannah Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism
Harold Rosenberg, Tradition of the New
Lionel Trilling, The Liberal Mind
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Irving Howe, The Age of Conformity
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The Vital Center
Poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, and others
Robert Frank, The Americans
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Class attendance and participation; four papers (from 2 pp. to 6-8 pp.), including one mandatory revision.