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A suggested syllabus

maht91's picture

The plan that I have for the rest of the semester includes looking at autobiographies of people under different circumstances and people in different periods in time. I would also like to look into documentaries that reflect either the life of a whole population or the experience of one person. I would be interested in focusing on either feminist film documentaries or conflict zone documentaries. The conflict zone documentaries usually involve a lot of emotion and can be partially biased, which might distort the truth and reality. I am also very interested in looking at journalism as a medium of reporting the truth. I am part of a radio show production on campus, War New Radio, and as journalists, I am wondering how much of the reality we are presenting to the public. Science journalism is also a branch of journalism I would be interested in exploring.

Here is the list of proposed books:

1.    1. THE DOUBLE HELIX by James D. Watson. After reading some of the reviews of the book, and a comment on Wikipedia: “The intimate first person account of scientific discovery was unusual for its time,” I thought that this could be a good combination of an autobiography with a scientific discovery. In reading such a text, we could see the difficulty, perhaps, of finding the truth in a book about the personal story or journey of a biologist in discovering the structure of DNA which is such a controversial issue. Science is usually right until proven otherwise, so science can be a controversial subject in terms of finding the full truth.

2.    2. THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK by W.E.B. Du Bois. The book is a collection of essays written by W.E.B about race, and those essays have been drawn from his own personal experience on being an African American in American society. It brings out a very serious issue in history and it is told from his point of view, and the question of truth is also brought up here since this issue has a lot of emotion involved.

3.    3. UP FROM SLAVERY: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Booker T. Washington. The book is an autobiography which started as a series of articles. The author also depicts his fight for African-American equality in America. It brings out a very serious issue in history and it is told from his point of view, and the question of truth is also brought up here since this issue has a lot of emotion involved.

4.    4. CHILDREN OF CRISIS by Robert Coles. This book invites the reader into the experience of one person in reflecting the crisis of children. It is a social study, which is a different from the genres we have covered. It gives an account of the crisis of children, heard from their own voices through the perspective and eyes of one person.

5.    5. A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN by Virginia Woolf. This is an extended essay written by Virginia Woolf. Wikipedia explains: “While this extended essay in fact employs a fictional narrator and narrative to explore women both as writers of and characters in fiction, the manuscript for the delivery of the series of lecture, titled “Women and Fiction”, and hence the essay, are considered non-fiction.” It sounds interesting to me. I think it will help us extend our understanding of non-fiction since it does explore women as characters in fiction and it employs a fictional narrator, so I think it would be interesting to look more into that and see if it expands our exploration of truth.

6.    6. I would really like to focus on a documentary but I don’t have a documentary in mind. Any ideas?

I am thinking that we would explore different genres, from autobiography, to documentaries, to collection of essays, to science reporting, to a social study in the 6-week period. We would give each piece of writing the amount of time it needs to study it, from one week to two weeks. In the combination of these different genres, we would be able to explore how we could find the truths in these different places, and explore if the differences in narration makes accepting the truth or finding the truth easier.


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