WRPR 110b Medical Narrative
Attention to literature and the arts helps to develop and nurture skills of observation, analysis, empathy, and self-reflection––skills that are essential for humane medical care,” suggests Felice Aull (a founder of the Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database). This course is designed to foster such skills, but it will do so by turning our very notion of “humane medical care” into an object for reflection and analysis. Our exploration of texts will admit uncertainty about what degrees of empathy, self-reflection, or indeed humaneness are reachable. Do communications about illness offer us a special route to knowledge of the self, whether our own or someone else’s? Do they induce detachment even as they summon empathy? (Do “clinical tales” inevitably prompt us to feel, in the words of Oliver Sacks, like “an anthropologist on Mars”?) Reading across a broad spectrum of fiction and nonfiction works, we will take a clinical view of medical story-telling itself. What linguistic strategies do various medical narratives employ? What are the texts’ apparent purposes? Are there therapeutic effects to be found in writing or reading narratives of illness––and, if so, by whom: the patient? the medical professional? the third-party observer? Using close reading as our primary tool, we will explore quandaries of personhood in the context of health struggles.
WRPR 122a Writing in Public Health
The study of public health and the development of public health policy are multidisciplinary activities which engage students and practitioners in the areas of science, medicine, mathematics, public policy, economics and politics. This course will address both national and global public health issues. In the first half of the semester, students will read and write about the increasing rate at which Americans are afflicted with type 2 diabetes, analyze why it preferentially affects certain racial and ethnic groups and develop their own ideas about how to ameliorate this incipient public health disaster. The second half of the course will focus on the ongoing problem of infectious disease in America and in the countries of the third world. Despite more than a century of research, we have still not solved the global health problems associated with influenza, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Students will learn about the biology of some of these diseases and study the mechanisms which are currently being used to minimize their impact on the health of different populations. [Carries credit towards the Health Studies minor and cross-listed as BIOL 122a.]
WRPR 128a/RELG 128a Reading Sacred Texts
An introduction to reading sacred texts in an academic setting. In this course we will apply a variety of methodological approaches--literary, historical, sociological, anthropological or philosophical--to the reading of religious texts, documents and materials. [Cross listed in Religion.]
WRPR 141a, b The Future of the Book in the Digital Age
Jeff Jarvis bluntly declared in 2005: "Print is where words go to die," asserting that the dynamism and hypertextuality of digital media render books and other print formats obsolete. On the other hand, William H. Gass and Christine Rosen argue that physical books crucially safeguard the individuality of the author's voice and the deep immersion of their readers. This seminar will engage the debate by exploring what the book represents today—both as a means of communication and as a physical artifact—while seeking to envision the future of books and e-books from the perspective of its readers, authors, publishers, printers, illustrators, and conservators. We'll start by placing the current digital revolution against the backdrop of revolutions and evolutions in the methods of textual transmission from ancient papyri to the printing press to early experiments in print hypertextuality. With this new appreciation of prior upheavals, we'll ask whether the print-versus-digital debate represents a false dichotomy, or whether the shift to digital media signals a fundamental transformation in how society organizes and transmits information. To find our answers, we will explore several fascinating textual experiments that illustrate the limitations and possibilities of physical and digital books––such texts as Lynd Ward’s novel in woodcuts God’s Man (1929), Italo Calvino’s recursive novel If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979), Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse’s hologramatic work of poetry Between Page and Screen (2012), and Chris Ware’s multi-format graphic novel Building Stories (2012).
WRPR 150a-01 Introduction to Literary Analysis: 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 Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, to Martin Amis' novel, Time's 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. [Carries credit toward the English major.]
WRPR 150a, b-02 Introduction to Literary Analysis: Transformations
From the humbling of Odysseus in Homer's The Odyssey to the erosion of gay subculture in Samuel Delany’s 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 Homer’s The Odyssey, we'll explore the work of transformation in William Shakespeare’s Winters Tale, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Samuel Delany’s 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. [Carries credit towards the English major.]
WRPR 150a,b-03 Introduction to Literary Analysis: The Poetics of Power
This writing course is designed to develop students’ critical reading and analytical writing skills while introducing them to the discipline of literary studies. Our thematic focus explores ideas about power as they are reflected in selected literary texts, ranging from ancient Greece to the modern era, examining concepts about power in the context of those who are traditionally empowered and “from the bottom up,” listening to the voices of those who feel power’s effects and inequities most acutely. Among the issues we will discuss are: What is power? Where does it originate? What are power’s effects? How does power relate to the central categories of race, gender, and class? What role does religion play in struggles for power? As we tackle these and many more questions, we will be seeking both perennial and carefully historicized answers to the problems power raises, looking for “universals” while differentiating between our contemporary experiences and lives far removed from our own in circumstance, distance, and time. Among the works we will discuss are Homer’s Odyssey, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life, and James Joyce’s Dubliners. Prerequisite: Open only to first year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing. [Carries Humanities divisional credit. Carries credit toward the English major.]
WRPR 150b-01 Introduction to Literary Analysis: 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, well 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. Well examine the role of race and gender in configuring relations of power, objectification, and commodification. And well 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 Winters 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. [Carries credit towards the English major.]
WRPR 155a 01 Drawing the Line: Origin Stories and Graphic Narratives
In this course we will read a range of graphic narratives ranging from Robert Crumb's illustration of The Book of Genesis to Alison Bechdel's "tragicomic" Fun Home to Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's reimagination of Kal-El's arrival on Earth in All Star Superman #1 to examine the ways in which comics draw upon archetypal stories and visual iconographies that encode as well as subvert cultural norms. We will investigate the ways in which different works invite us into the “gutter” (the formal term for the space between panels) through representations of origin stories -- creation myths, autobiographies, narratives of nation-building -- that delineate constructions of personal identity, configurations of family dynamics, declarations of national autonomy, and professions of faith. In addition to essays (textual and visual) for the class, students in this course will be working on individual and group projects that will be integrated into a spring exhibition in Magill Library curated by Charles Espinoza '15 that will be featuring Haverford's comics collection, and thus exploring their own roles as public intellectuals in the context of the scholarly communities on and beyond Haverford's campus; class visitors will include political cartoonists, Marvel editors, and free-range artists.
Book list: Alison Bechdel, Fun Home; Robert Crumb, The Book of Genesis, Illustrated; Joe Sacco, Safe Area Gorazde; Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis; Art Spiegelman, Maus; Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth.
WRPR 159a, b Memory, Monuments, and Urban Space
Whether as statues, walls, plaques, parks, or other commemorative structures, memorials and monuments are regular features of urban topography. Such “sites of memory” not only instruct us about significant events of the past, but do so in the space and time of the present. And yet, the historical memory of cities is also made legible through other modes of cultural expression and inscription – including literature, photography, graffiti, music, and street performance. Cycles of urban de-industrialization and renewal since the 1970s, as well as legacies of conflict and inequality, have exacerbated the need for alternate forms of commemoration. Increasingly, digital apps and websites increase access to elusive physical layers of memory, while reinforcing the loss associated with historical change. Collectively, sites of memory remind us that cities are places where we simultaneously innovate toward progress and attempt to heal traumas of the past. In this writing course, we will explore literary, cultural, and architectural approaches to urban historical memory. We will look to officially sanctioned monuments as well as countercultural expressions of memory to study the cultural life of cities. We will focus primarily on the period between 1968 and the present, considering the roles of race, gender, sexuality, and class in debates about cultural memory in such ongoing matters of historical reflection as: the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War, the War on Drugs, the MOVE bombing, the AIDS epidemic, and 9/11. In addition to regular writing assignments, we will take several field trips to sites of memory in Philadelphia, with the city serving as one of our primary sources for this course.
WRPR 160a, b Borders, Walls and Bridges: Cultural Approaches to Divided Cities
Urban spaces are sites of dynamic connection, but may also be defined by their established boundaries. Walls and fences are just some of the forms of demarcation; legacies of inequality also forcefully structure cities. From Berlin to Birmingham, modern history is rife with examples of urban segregation that is both architecturally built and socially inscribed. The daily life of a city includes zones of separation influenced by race, gender, sexuality, and class, while interaction across and within transnational cultural spaces remaps our understandings of global borders. Further, the expanding prison industrial complex is another prominent example of internal division in which narratives of freedom and repression are jointly expressed. But even with histories of struggle, cities continue to be ideal locales from which to transform communities, where individuals can work across lines of difference and pursue collective grassroots projects. Digital tools designed for cityscapes also offer new ways to explore and revise legacies of division. This writing course will approach the topic of divided cities through a range of interdisciplinary cultural approaches and comparative 20th- and 21st-century case studies. Our course readings include selections from such works as Carl Nightengale’s Segregation: A World History of Divided Cities, Teresa Caldeira’s City of Walls, Ruth Gilmore’s Golden Gulag, Michael Katz’s Why Don’t American Cities Burn, and Peter Schneider’s Wall Jumper. In addition to regular writing assignments, our class will take several class field trips to sites in Philadelphia, with the city serving as one of our primary sources for this course.
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.
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 member’s 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 world,something that reading and writing critically calls us to do, is 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; Twilight Los Angeles, Anna Deveare Smith; Mother Tongue, by Amy Tan; Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston; Notes of a Native Speaker, Eric Liu; Black Man in a White Court, Nelson Mandela ; Where Do Whites Fit In?, Nadine Gordimer,; Imaginary Homelands, Salman Rushdie (selection); Black Skin/White Masks, Franz Fanon (selection); Representation, Stuart Hall, et al., (selection); essays on writing, to be selected.
WRPR 163a 01, 02 Paris, Poetry and the ‘Work of Mourning’ and Recovery
TTH 10:00-11:30, 1:00-2:30
This year marks the 100th European anniversary of the First World War, which set the precedent for a twentieth century, that, says Bataille, “unfolded under the paradigm of war.” Europe’s Great War, what was at the time seen as the ‘war to end all wars,’ ushered in an era of unprecedented violence that left in its wake devastated civilian and soldier populations alike. The centennial commemorations throughout Europe call upon us to consider the ways in which we remember, mourn, and work through grief and trauma. In an age defined by a series of wars, in a perpetual cycle of ‘after tragedy,’ how is it that societies and individuals come to terms with the past? In this class, we will reach across the humanities to look at the relationship between literature and mourning, art and war, writing and recovery, and commemorating and remembering. Starting with the memorializing that is occurring across Europe, we will explore the way in which the past is brought into the present, and put these modes of remembering in conversation with the experimental art and literature that was produced or performed in Paris directly before and after the First World War. The 1920’s ushered in an era of much-anticipated peace to Europe, but it was also an era of mourning. Writers and thinkers produced work in an attempt to understand the world in a post-war Europe, to wrap their minds around and attempt to come to grips with what had happened. As a result, Paris of the 1920’s was a time of great artistic and literary innovation and will offer us an entrance into discourses interrogating the ‘work of mourning’ art and literature conduct. Brief, dense excerpts from thinkers such as Derrida, Freud, and Judith Herman will provide a framework for reading the poetry of Hope Mirrlees, the literature of Gertrude Stein, and the art of Pablo Picasso. 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.
WRPR 164b 01, 02 Peace Testimonies in Literature & 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
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 writer’s 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 Picasso’s 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. [Counts towards the Concentration in Peace, Justice and Human Rights.]
WRPR 165b 01, 02 Contemporary Narratives of American Violence
TTH 10:00-11:30, 1:00-2:30
“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer”
— D.H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature.
Lawrence’s claim is a response to the work of cherished American novelist James Fenimore Cooper, and it suggests a complex relationship between the three subjects announced in this course’s title: America, Violence, and Narrative. From the genocide of indigenous peoples to the enslavement of Africans to the imprisonment of millions, not to mention murders, wars, and everyday acts of “senseless” violence, American history is undeniably bloody. In this course, we will interrogate, question, and analyze how violence is imagined in 20th and 21st-century American culture. We will begin in the middle of the last century with a “non-fiction novel” of mass murder (Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood
) and then work our way up through the turn of the century by reading, viewing, and listening to a range of works that deal with subjects such as zombies, vampires, the psychological effects of war, the violence of the American Frontier, serial killers, and the post-9/11 landscape. We will test Lawrence’s claim and try to make sense of the ways that violence structures narrative and how narrative gives reason to violence, while remaining sensitive to the ways that ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality fundamentally determine American narratives of violence.
WRPR 166a 01, 02 Tuning In: Audiocultures, Music, and Soundscapes
TTH 10:00-11:30, 1:00-2:30
While listening to Louis Armstrong, the unnamed narrator of Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man discovers a "new" way to hear the "unheard sounds" between the beats, so that he is listening in time and space. Ellison’s novel, with its turn toward music to negotiate the visual ideologies of race, is located at a site of crossings and re-crossings, a site where the narrator realizes that “few really listen”—but even more than listening, it is a feeling of and in the space between the beats that most affects him, a feeling that permits the narrator to descend into the “underworld of sound.” In this course, we will follow Ellison’s lead and dive into this sonic underworld. We will begin by developing a critical vocabulary for the analysis of sound and then proceed to read and listen to a range of cultural production such as radio dramas, audiobooks, spoken word albums, and music. We will study the relationship between sonic experience and cultural formations, consider the role of sound recording in literary works, and analyze how visual artists represent sound. We will interrogate how acts of listening are culturally determined and mediated, and study media formats from gramophones to MP3s. Paying particular attention to the material facts of sonic experience, we will develop a deep appreciation for the ways that sound constitutes the self, community, space, race, gender, history, and politics.
WRPR 167b Globalization in the 21st Century
An exploration of global interconnectedness that considers multiple disciplinary perspectives - political, economic, etc. - but focuses on complex cultural dimensions of localization, westernization, cultural borrowing, cultural imperialism, cultural exploitation, tourism, pop culture (music, movies, etc.), peace, and conflict, in ethnographies set in different interesting locations around the world. For the most part these will be outside the US, with a particular case study of Japan. We will consider questions like: Is there a global village? and How does the nation-state matter both more and less in a globalized world?
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. [Counts towards the major in Classical Culture and Society.]