WRPR 118a Portraits of Disability and Difference
Rosemarie Garland-Thomson writes: "staring is an interrogative gesture that asks what’s going on and demands the story. The eyes hang on, working to recognize what seems illegible, order what seems unruly, know what seems strange." In this seminar we will explore visual and literary portraits and self-portraits of bodies marked by difference, bodies that often elicit stares. We will ask: What kinds of stories are told about these bodies? How do memoirs and self-portraits by people with disabilities draw on and challenge traditions of life writing and portraiture? How does this work enlarge cultural, aesthetic, and bioethical views of embodiment, disability, and difference? How do portraits of disability engage differences of gender, race, and class? Our seminar will host a visiting artist who will guide us through a digital self-portraiture project. Through close readings of essays, memoirs, paintings, and photographs, students will hone their descriptive and interpretive skills and develop their ability to craft clear and persuasive arguments. Prerequisite: Open only to first year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing. [Carries credit towards the minor in Heath Sciences.]
WRPR 133b The American West in Fact and Fiction: Cultural Landscapes and Civic Ideas
An examination of the imagery of the American West. Using visual and verbal images, this course explores such diverse aspects of the West as cowboys, cartography, water rights, race and social class, technology, religion, prostitution, and landscape painting. . Prerequisite: Open only to first year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing.
WRPR 140a WRPR 140a The Rhetoric of Argument
Polonius: My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?
Queen: More matter with less art.
—Shakespeare, Hamlet, II.ii.86-93; Polonius to the King and Queen
In this course you will learn how to write clear, concise, and elegant prose, analyze arguments, and compose arguments of your own. A good reader can analyze the logic of an argument, the way it solicits its audience, and the style of its presentation. Similarly, the good writer understands her audience, adopts a style appropriate to the situation, and crafts an argument that establishes grounds for possible agreement. A good writer is a better reader. For example, above, Polonius wastes time saying he won’t: “since brevity is the soul of wit / And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes / I will be brief…” He can’t even speak briefly of brevity but lards his own aphorism with redundant flourishes. If, like Polonius, you present your reader with tedious prose, you present yourself as tedious. And though few occasions warrant such a presentation—Shakespeare here expertly portrays Polonius’ lack of expertise—this course will supply you with the means to suit your words to different occasions and the power to read how others in turn both craft themselves and thus either succeed or fail to convince. Prerequisite: Open only to first year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing.
WRPR 150a-01 Deception, Recognition and Return
How does one distinguish truth from lies, pretense from authenticity? In this course, we will read texts that depict literal and symbolic journeys to strange, unrecognizable, lands. From Homers epic, The Odyssey, to Martin Amis novel, Times Arrow, characters struggle with experiences of loss and death, misidentification, temporal distortion, and tentative rediscovery. As we read a variety of works, including tales of deception from Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Christina Rossetti, and Melville, we will explore narrative complexities across genres: what literary devices do authors employ to deceive, persuade, and frustrate the reader? And how can students, as writers, co-opt these techniques for their own uses? In intensive small-group tutorials and class discussions, students will hone analytical and writing skills, while navigating the shadowy spaces between fiction and history. Prerequisite: Open only to first year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing. [Carries credit toward the English major.]
WRPR 150a-02 Introduction to Literary Analysis: Transformations
From the humbling of Odysseus in Homers The Odyssey to the erosion of gay subculture in Samuel Delanys Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, this course examines the literature of transformation. Working with classical and modern texts in a variety of literary genres, this course will ask: How do characters transform in the face of desire, longing, violence, trauma, and loss? How do social structures transform through individual and collective action? We will also track our own transformations over the course of the semester, asking how the practice of reading and writing literature and criticism transforms our senses of self and other. Particular attention will be paid to the politics of identity in the work of transformation, including sexuality, gender, race, and class. Beginning with Homers The Odyssey, well explore the work of transformation in William Shakespeares Winters Tale, Mary Shelleys Frankenstein, Walt Whitmans Leaves of Grass, Zora Neale Hurstons Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Samuel Delanys Times Square Red, Times Square Blue. We will also look at and experiment with contemporary adaptations of classical works, including film, video, and theater, asking how the meanings of classical works are transformed over time and across various media. Selected short critical readings from Carolyn Steedman, Elizabeth Freeman, and David Eng will offer some interpretive frameworks for us to approach a variety of historical and contemporary themes related to transformation, including the work of mourning, assimilation, biopolitics, and queer and transgender life. Prerequisite: Open only to members of the first-year class as assigned by the Director of College Writing. [Carries credit towards the English major and the concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies.]
WRPR 150a-03 Introduction to Literary Analysis: All’s Fair in Love and War
Throughout most of recorded history, war has been the business of men, while women have served variously as excuses for of conflict, prizes for successful warriors, distractions from battle, and embodiments of peace. We will consider various ways in which the tension between love and war has been figured across a range of historical periods, from classical to medieval to modern. Are there constants in the representation of this opposition across time? How do successive authors revise the tropes established by their predecessors? What happens to the theme of love and war as it moves between genres as varied as epic, romance, drama, lyric and novel? By engaging such questions in the context of a course focused on close reading, students will develop their skills as critical thinkers, readers and writers. Prerequisite: Open only to members of the first-year class as assigned by the Director of College Writing. [Carries credit toward the English major.]
WRPR 150b-01 Introduction to Literary Analysis: Animate Objects
From the flesh of Pygmalion’s statue to the circuits of artificial intelligence, this course examines the literature of animation, or things coming to life. How can we understand the complex, often amorous relationships between persons and things, and what is the role of literature in helping us to imagine, navigate, and reconstruct those relationships? Working with classical and modern texts in a variety of genres, we’ll explore historically specific constructions of personhood, analyzing how language shapes and reshapes the boundaries between subjects and objects, the living and the dead, the still and moving. We’ll examine the role of race and gender in configuring relations of power, objectification, and commodification. And we’ll ponder our own role as writers in bringing ideas and concepts to life, attending carefully to the pleasure and responsibility this work entails. Beginning with Ovid’s Metamorphoses, we’ll explore the work of animation in William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady, and Richard Powers’s Galatea 2.2. Selected short critical readings from Sigmund Freud, Barbara Johnson, Jaron Lanier, and Karl Marx will help us approach humans and things through questions of desire, production, technological transformation, enslavement, and mourning. Prerequisite: Open only to members of the first-year class as assigned by the Director of College Writing. [Carries Humanities divisional credit. Carries credit toward the English major.]
WRPR 150b-02 Introduction to Literary Analysis: Reading Madness
Crazy, hysterical, paranoid, sick: this course focuses on literature in which characters acquire such labels by interpreting their surroundings, experiences or symptoms in ways that cause others to question not only their perceptions, but even their sanity. Why are we compelled repeatedly to tell this story? We will pursue this question by considering how such stories function at different historical moments and across various genres, including the Greek tragedy, the gothic novel, and the horror film. Our range of texts will include Sophocles' Oedipus the King; Shakespeare’s Hamlet; Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw; poems by John Keats and Emily Dickinson; stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Vladimir Nabokov; and Todd Haynes’s film Safe. Across these texts, we will map how labels such as madwoman or madman have been used to mark boundaries of behavior, expression and thought, often related especially to changing conceptions of gender and sexuality. At the same time, we will explore the spaces of reinvention richly rendered in literary presentations of madness—spaces that authors variously discourage or invite us, as readers, to enter. As we reflect on the different ways of acting, interpreting and reading that are portrayed, along with the labels invoked in response, we will also consider our own interpretive practices and standards of evidence, including those of our daily lives and those within the discipline of literary studies. Prerequisite: Open only to first year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing. [Carries credit toward the English major.]
WRPR 155a Drawing the Line: Autobiography as Graphic Narrative
In this course we will read a range of graphic novels that play out different modes of narrating one’s own life, from origin stories rivaling those of DC or Marvel superheroes, to war reportage as problematic witness. Comics invite us into the “gutter” (the formal term for the space between panels), and so reframe our vision as they draw upon visual iconographies that encode as well as subvert cultural norms. We will investigate the ways in which different works cast authorial voice and experience, even as we attend to rhetorical constructions of gender, class, race, and national identity. Students in this course will also work closely with visiting resident artist Pato Hebert, whose own work explores graphic novels as sites of transformative practice. Comics help us to see the world differently, and Hebert’s artistry, together with the exposure to graphic novels in this course, offer new vistas of envisioning one’s own life story. Prerequisite: Open only to first year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing.
WRPR 156a Good Guys and Gals? Quaker Imagery in Fiction
What have been the literary “uses” of Quaker ideas and images in fiction? How have these changed over time? Fiction-writers often use codified images such as Biblical characters, landscapes, serpents or other animals, in order to promote a certain mood or sub-text in their readers' minds. And religion is often the overt or hidden agenda for fiction-writers—with the “journey” through life, its concomitant challenges, and the conquest of those challenges bringing the reader to a dramatic conclusion. But Quakers, so few in number (only a few hundred thousand of us in the entire world!) don’t show up in fiction very often. This is partly because early Quakers banned the writing and reading of fiction. Yet, as early as 1810, Quakers DO appear in fiction—both as authors and characters. Here on the Haverford campus, with its Quaker heritage and traditions, is housed perhaps the largest collection of “Quaker” novels anywhere in the world—fiction by or about Quakers, often populated with characters whose “Quakerliness” is designed to evoke a certain mood, message, or subtext. For some authors, Quakers became stand-ins for virtue. For others, the Quaker image is of the troublemaker, the nay-sayer, the haughty, unbending zealot. In this course we will read excerpts from an array of Quaker fiction. Then, through class discussions, written essays, and through considering each others’ writing, students will explore how commentators have interpreted the meaning of "Quakerness" in literature." Though this is not a “history” course per se, students will emerge from the course with sharpened skills in historical inquiry and research. Prerequisite: Open only to first year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing.
WRPR 162b 01, 02 Immigration and Representation
MW 11:30-1:00, 1:00-2:30
What does it mean to be an immigrant? What is lost and what is gained in the move from over there to over here? Who decides? In examining the questions raised by acts of migration across borders or countries, we will examine the assumptions that create community and conflict in the immigrant experience both in the US and abroad. We will read essays, short stories, and a novel or two that help showcase the rich diversity of the immigrant experience. To help ground our exploration, we will read theoretical texts that examine how identities are formed and policed across and within communities. The goals of developing critical thinking and writing skills are central to the course. Reading critically presents many perspectives, which may or may not be like our own. This course seeks to facilitate each class members discovery of their own awareness and relationship to the various perspectives presented explicitly and implicitly in the course materials and activities; the ability to interpret the worldsomething that reading and writing critically calls us to dois a crucial skill both inside and outside the classroom. Success in todays local and global living and working environments depends in large measure on ones ability to interpret, understand, and proactively integrate and negotiate the various aspects of diversity inherent in the human person. Possible readings: The Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian, Sherman Alexie; Borderlands/La Frontera, selections, Gloria Anzaldua; Twlight Los Angeles, Anna Deveare Smith; Mother Tongue, by Amy Tan; Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston; Notes of a Native Speaker, Eric Liu; Nelson Mandela, Black Man in a White Court; Nadine Gordimer, Where Do Whites Fit In?; Imaginary Homelands, Salman Rushdie (selection); Black Skin/White Masks, Franz Fanon (selection); Representation, Stuart Hall, et al., (selection); essays on writing, to be selected. . Prerequisite: Open only to first year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing.
WRPR 164a 01, 02 Peace Testimonies in Literature and Art
TTH 10:00-11:30, 1:00-2:30
In Virginia Woolf’s reading scrapbooks, compiled for her extensive pacifist project that includes the peace pamphlet Three Guineas, there is pasted a typed-out excerpt called War and Writers that addresses the interconnection between writing and political activism, between literature and the production of society. The writer, this passage argues, has a major responsibility to society because he or she can shape the consciousness of the people. Therefore, it is the writers job, War and Writers argues, to spread the spirit of peace. Thinking across the humanities, this course undertakes a study of the way in which writers, activists, and artists have utilized art and literature to spread the spirit of peace. It explores the peace testimonies embedded in literature and art. Peace Testimony is a Quaker term, signifying a lived action that manifests an inner belief. Investigating the relationship between belief and action, we will trace the way in which art and literature performs and promotes pacifist philosophies. Through the study of Muriel Rukeyser’s poetics, Virginia Woolf’s writings, Pablo Picassos paintings, and the Quaker relief effort during the Spanish Civil War, this course will begin uncovering the lost histories of pacifist thought and examine how artists, writers, and activists worked together to imagine and create a world without war. We will also consult thinkers such as Judith Butler and Jean-Paul Sartre to think through notions of responsibility, social engagement, and ethics. In addition to frequent smaller writing assignments and several formal essays, students are asked to participate regularly in class and give a 10-minute presentation. Prerequisite: Open only to members of the first-year class as assigned by the Director of College Writing. [Carries credit towards the concentration in Peace, Justice and Human Rights.]
WRPR 167b Globalization in the 21st Century
We will define and explore global interconnectedness from multiple disciplinary perspectives - political, economic, etc. - but will focus primarily on various complex social and cultural dimensions of globalization including local/global tensions, Westernization, cultural borrowing, cultural imperialism, cultural exploitation, tourism, and pop culture (music, movies, etc.), as analyzed in ethnographies set in various locations around the world. Most of these locations will be outside the US, and we will include a particular case study of Japan. We will consider questions like: Is there a global village? How does the nation-state matter both more and less in a globalized world? How does globalization impact existing socioeconomic inequalities? Who benefits from increasing global interdependence and who does not, and why. Prerequisite: Open only to members of the first-year class as assigned by the Director of College Writing.
WRPR 168b Madness and Wine in Classical Literature
The ancient Greeks founded Western Civilization as an exercise of reason and rationality, but their writings show an equal fascination with the irrational: for every Apollo a Dionysus. Their poetry, their religion, their philosophies...all pay equal honor both to reason and to madness and intoxication. This course will sample some foundational Western writings on madness in order to examine this apparent paradox. A close reading of Plato's Phaedrus will inform our exploration of the fragmentary poets of the archaic period in order to understand the complexity of the ecstatic experience. Nietzsche's false Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy will be deconstructed in our readings of Athenian tragedy. We will consult scientific theories of mental illness and the effects of psychoactive intoxicants. Topics to be discussed will include the importance of wine in Greek and Roman culture, the role of irrational thought in Greek mythology, the Eleusinian cult mysteries, the roots of drama in Dionysian religious observance, and the presence of madness at the heart of all personal poetry. Prerequisite: Open only to members of the first-year class as assigned by the Director of College Writing. [Counts towards the major in Classical Culture and Society.]