This course is intended to help you become a better writer, a careful reader, and a critical thinker. It will prepare you for the kind of reading, writing, and thinking that will be expected of you in your college classes. This course requires that you 1) write a lot; 2) read ALL material carefully and critically; 3) complete all assigned work; 4) take responsibility for your own learning.
Our topic for this semester focuses on contemporary views of fact and fiction. We will examine a variety of genres—journalism, reality television, and literature—and we’ll discuss how texts from these genres blur the line between fact and fiction. Questions we’ll consider include the following: What is “truth” in the first place and can we have access to it? Can fictional “truth” be as true as historical or “factual” truth? Is it even useful to try to make a distinction between fact and fiction? What are the ethics of blurring the line between the two? How have these philosophical considerations of fact and fiction played out in real-life controversies? One of the highlights of the course will be a campus visit by author Edward P. Jones, who will present a college-wide talk on Tuesday, November 1. All of you should have received Jones’ novel The Known World this summer, which is the book chosen for this year’s “The College Reads” program.
The course, unlike most of your other classes, meets four hours a week. The fourth hour (scheduled from 2-3 on Wednesday afternoons), will mostly serve as a lab session, in which we will focus very specifically on student writing. In these labs, students will often read and comment on each others’ work, and we will focus on the nuts and bolts of good writing.
Your own written work will consist of six out-of-class papers, one of which is a group annotated bibliography and another of which will count as your final exam. Most of the out-of-class papers will first be turned in as drafts, commented on by myself and fellow students in workshop sessions, and then revised and turned in as finished papers. I will give you more information about each paper, including a written assignment sheet, well in advance of its due date. Coursework will also include several peer evaluations of classmates’ papers and informal writing on our class blog.
- The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
- The Known World, Edward P. Jones
- Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson OR A Million Little Pieces, James Frey
- Other readings for the course will be posted on class website