Final Syllabus

English 125, sections 302 and 303, Jack Lynch and Karen Schiff.


Monday, 26 February:

Assignment: Choose one of the essays you've written this semester and revise it thoroughly.

Readings: Randy Shilts, "Talking AIDS to Death"; Joyce Carol Oates, "On Boxing."

Wednesday, 28 February:

Readings: Ann Hodgman, Paul Fussell, "Being Reviewed: The A.B.M. and Its Theory"; "No Wonder They Call Me a Bitch."

Monday, 4 March:

Assignment: (1) Write an essay that deals with an illness you or someone you know has experienced. Go beyond mere descriptions; make your essay into a commentary (e.g., an indictment of hospital practices, a speculation on the way of conceptualizing disease in the culture you're discussing), or (2) Confess to a guilty pleasure.

Readings: David Rieff, "Victims, All?"; Ronald Dworkin, "Liberty and Pornography."

Wednesday, 6 March:

Readings: Jacques Barzun, "The Paradoxes of Creativity"; Julian Barnes, "The Follies of Writer Worship."

Monday, 11 March:

(Spring Break)

Wednesday, 13 March:

(Spring Break)

Monday, 18 March:

Assignment: Write an essay on your own notions or experience of "creativity."

Readings: Dave Barry, "Introducing: Mr. Humor Person," "English, As It Were"; Russell Baker, "New Age Babble"; Calvin Trillin, "Damp in the Afternoon."

Wednesday, 20 March:

Readings: Orwell, "Politics & the English Language"; Didion, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem."

Monday, 25 March:

Assignment: (1) Write an essay that pokes fun at an aspect of culture that we take for granted because it's so common (e.g., shaking hands), or (2) Approach some topic everyone else is too uncomfortable to come near.

Readings: Paul Fussell, "Notes on Class," "My War."

Both of the week's workshop sessions will be held today to leave extra time for Fussell's visit.

Wednesday, 27 March:

Readings: Paul Fussell, "Thank God for the Atom Bomb," "Indy."

Visit from Paul Fussell.

Monday, 1 April:

Assignment: Write a 1,000-word review of the book, CD, movie, concert, restaurant, &c. of your choice. Take the length limitation seriously: 1,000 words means between 950 and 1,050 words.

Readings: Maxine Hong Kingston, "No Name Woman"; Amy Tan, "Mother Tongue."

Wednesday, 3 April:

Readings: Alice Walker, "A Thousand Words: A Writer's Pictures of China"; William Gass, "China Still Lifes."

Monday, 8 April:

Assignment: Write about China. Don't begin your essay, "I went to China..." or "I have never been to China." Take something that you associate with China as a starting point, whether you have been there or not.

Readings: Jamaica Kincaid, "On Seeing England for the First Time"; Gretel Erlich, "The Solace of Open Spaces."

Wednesday, 10 April:

Readings: E. B. White, "The Winter of the Great Snows," "Death of a Pig"; Annie Dillard, "Total Eclipse."

Monday, 15 April:

Assignment: (1) Write an essay that invokes a sense of place, or (2) Find something widely beloved and show why it's bad, or vice versa. Examples: "Why Beethoven Sucks"; "In Praise of Discrimination"; "Disney Is Ruining Our Youth."

Readings: Alice Walker, "Beauty, When the Other Dancer is the Self"; Adrienne Rich, "Split at the Root."

Wednesday, 17 April:

Readings: Adrienne Rich, "Notes on Women and Lying"; Gertrude Stein, "Is Dead," "Let Us Describe."

Monday, 22 April:

Assignment: Stretch the essay to the breaking point -- maybe beyond -- and find the boundaries of the form. The topic itself is your choice.

Readings: Anna Quindlan (title TBA); James Baldwin, "Fifth Avenue, Uptown: Letter from Harlem."

Wednesday, 24 April:

Readings: Edward Hoagland, "To the Point: Truths Only Essays Can Tell."