Composition I

The American linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf once said, “Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.” In this course, we will shed light on Whorf’s quote by examining how writing and storytelling construct the world around us, and how through writing we become part of this process. Specifically, we will focus on fairy tales, a genre often conceived of as socializing and helping to educate children (and, sometimes, adults as well). We will read classic fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault but also examine more recent adaptations to discuss how conceptions, audiences, and morals have changed over time. More generally, we will explore the politics, or ideologies, implicit in those tales to gain a better understanding of how stories and writing help to shape how we see the world. We will read Emma Donoghue’s KISSING THE WITCH: OLD TALES IN NEW SKINS and watch two fairy-tale films, EVER AFTER and FREEWAY.

You will write five formal papers over the course of the semester: a personal narrative, a fairy-tale revision, a film review, a compare-and-contrast essay, and a literary analysis. Because revision is an integral part of the writing process, drafts of the five formal papers will be reviewed in peer groups, and participation in these groups is essential.

Required Texts:

  • Diana Hacker’s A POCKET STYLE MANUAL, available at Revolution Books.
  • Emma Donoghue’s KISSING THE WITCH, available at Revolution Books.
  • A Course Reader, available at the Campus Copy Center.