• Fall 2015 Expository Writing Syllabus

    Brooke Carlson (see profile)
    LLC 20th- and 21st-Century American
    American literature
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    “The short story is better suited to the demands of modern life than the novel.” Simon Prosser, Publishing Director, Hamish Hamilton Expository Writing is crafted to help students learn to write and think critically. In an effort to hone our critical minds and strengthen our writing, we will focus on the learned skills of summarizing, paraphrasing, quoting, evaluating, analyzing, synthesizing, and creative writing. In addition to several short essays and poems, you will also be writing a multi-source paper of greater length. In today’s fast-paced world, what do we read? Why do we read? The novel has long been the prized literary form, but as Simon Prosser suggests, perhaps we have outgrown the novel. Is the short story a better literary form in the twenty-first century? Why? And how so? Using contemporary American short stories as our primary texts, we will explore writing, the family and love. We will start with Rebecca Makkai’s “Painted Ocean, Painted Ship,” a story about writing, reading, teaching, nationality, culture, and love. Kevin Moffett’s “Further Reinterpretations of Real-Life Events” brings together writing and the family, or, more specifically, fathers and sons. At the center of telling stories is the family, as we will see in fiction by Charles Baxter and Marlin Barton. Two tales set in Africa, Jennifer Egan’s “Safari” and Tea Obreht’s “The Laugh,” raise questions about what it means to know and how families provide us safety. Lori Ostland’s “All Boy” shifts our focus from the family to gender and sexuality, leading into the second half of the semester and the theme of love. What is love? Brendan Matthews, Wayne Harrison, and Maggie Shipstead provide some answers, as well as lead us on to “Free Radicals” by Alice Munro and Kristiana Kahakauwila’s “Portrait of a Good Father.” These last two show us the lengths people will go (or not go) for love. In closing, our texts ask not only what we might do for love, but also who we are.
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