College Seminar I, Fall 2000
Jody Cohen (Thomas 223, ext. 5396; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Anne Dalke (English House 205; ext. 5308; email@example.com)
“Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated . . . .”
T.S. Eliot, “East Coker,” Four Quartets (1935)
“It was only when I was off in college, away from my native surroundings, that I could see myself like somebody else and stand off and look at my garment.”
Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men (also 1935)
This course, which was co-designed by members of the Education and English Departments, explores the concept of transition, both as a characteristic of our lives and as a rich metaphor of our search for understanding. We will begin by examining our own relocation from home to college, which we will set in the context of other contemporary and mythic accounts of individual passage. We will end by considering various physical processes of metamorphosis and their implications for learning. Betwixt and between, we will negotiate an interview, take a trip into an unfamiliar cultural setting, and reconsider what home’s got to do with it. We will also read narratives of those who have been unhoused: Dorothy Allison’s Two or Three Things I Know for Sure, Toni Morrison’s Beloved and William Shakespeare’s King Lear, asking what they are taught, and what we might learn, from the disruption of their settled habits.
We will take multiple guides on this exploration of what educational theorist Paulo Freire calls our “unfinishedness” as human beings. Walker Percy, Edward Said and Cynthia Ozick will use the imagery of travel and exile to explain what it means to do academic work, while Maria Lugones, Adrienne Rich, bell hooks and Minnie Bruce Pratt will draw on their life narratives to argue for a politics of location. Anthropologists Victor Turner, Clifford Geertz, Renaldo Rosaldo and Ruth Behar will explore the issues of methodology and ethics which arise in the endeavor to understand cultural “others.” Eleanor Duckworth will guide us in becoming fresh observers of everyday phenomena; finally, Loren Eiseley will help us place these queries in a larger, evolutionary perspective that encompasses the non-human world.
Transition and Location, p.2
Reading Assignments include a number of books and articles that you will be expected to read thoroughly and be prepared to discuss and write about. Readings should be completed by the due date in the syllabus.
Writing Assignments are designed to build on the reading, writing, and thinking skills you bring with you to college and to help you move you beyond them. Assignments explore key issues in the course; they require creative, reflective, critical and analytical work and will ask you to draw on life experiences as well as on assigned readings and class discussions. Writing assignments include weekly drafts, due in typewritten form in the basket outside Anne’s office (second floor front, English House) by noon each Tuesday; and the submission of two portfolios of work revised for grading at the midpoint and end of the semester. Each assignment will be discussed in detail during class over the course of the semester.
Conferences and Class Meetings
We understand writing as both an individual and a collaborative activity, one which involves ongoing drafting and revising. There will be two regular forums for conferences about your writing: bi-monthly meetings with your professor, in her office; and regular small group meetings with each other in class, to offer constructive responses to one another's writing. We hope you’ll also talk informally with one another, share drafts of your work, and make use of the services offered by the Writing Center.
All members of the seminar are also expected to participate actively in class-wide discussions. The quality of our work together rests on our collective commitment to reading and writing, speaking and listening attentively with each other.
A collection of articles, book chapters, and other excerpts is available in class for purchase as a packet. Three texts are also available in the Bryn Mawr College Bookshop:
Dorothy Allison, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (Plume)
Toni Morrison, Beloved (Plume)
1. Tuesday, Sept 5 Introduction and Overview of the Course
Reading “The Pomegranate,” After Ovid;
“The Rape of Proserpine” &
“The Doctrines of Pythagoras,” Metamorphoses;
“Briar Rose” (two versions, by Grimm and Sexton)
DRAFT 1A: WRITE 4-5 pp.--create a myth of transformation; alternatively,
tell your own story of a time of transition
2. Tuesday, Sept. 12 small group writing workshop on your myths and stories
DRAFT 1B: WRITE 4-5 pp.—keyword analysis of Turner
3. Tuesday, Sept. 19 large group writing workshop on your keyword assignments
reading Two or Three Things I Know For Sure
4. Tuesday, Sept. 26 small group writing workshop on your retelling/analysis
reading Lugones and Said
DRAFT 2A: drawing on the model of the anthropologists,
6. Tuesday, Oct. 10 small writing workshops on your interviews
re-reading the anthropologists
Tuesday, Oct. 17 FALL VACATION
8. Tuesday, Oct. 31 read Beloved
9. Tuesday, Nov. 7 small group workshops on your field notes
re-read King Lear
Thursday, Nov.23 THANKSGIVING
12. Tuesday, Nov. 28 large group writing workshop on your observations
reading Percy and Duckworth
DRAFT 4B: WRITE 4-5 pp. field log of questions, observations and hypotheses
13. Tuesday, Dec. 5 small group writing workshops on your field logs reading Ozick and Homer
DRAFT 4C: WRITE 4-5 pp. exploring the implications of your observations
as a metaphor for schooling in transition
14. Tuesday, Dec. 12 large group writing workshop on your explorations
reading Auden and Eiseley
PORTFOLIOS DUE: revise papers 3&4 (D), and write a self-evaluation
Day 1 (September 5):
Boland, Eavan. “The Pomegranate.” After Ovid: New Metamorphoses. Ed. Michael Hofmann and James Lasdun. New York: Noonday Press, 1994. 140-141.
Ovid. “The Rape of Proserpine” and “The Doctrines of Pythagorus.” The Metamorphosis. 1-8 A.C.E.; rpt. and trans. A.D. Melville. New York: Oxford, 1986. 1-3, 109-116, 354-366, 381, 405-407, 460-463.
Grimm, Jakob and Wilhelm. “Little Briar-Rose (The Sleeping Beauty).” German Fairy Tales. Trans Margaret Hunt. New York: Continuum, 1985. 118-122.
Sexton, Anne. “Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty).” Transformations. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971. 107-112.
Day 2 (September 12):
Turner, Victor. “Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites of Passage.” The
Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967. 93-111.
Day 3 (September 19):
Allison, Dorothy. Two or Three Things I Know for Sure. New York: Plume, 1995.
Day 4 (September 26):
Lugones, Maria. “Playfulness, ‘World’-Travelling and Loving Perception.” Making Face, Making Soul=Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Women of Color. Ed. Gloria Anzaldua. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Foundation, 1990. 390-402.
Said, Edward. The World, the Text and the Critic. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1983. 5-8, 28-30.
Rosaldo, Renato. “Grief and a Headhunter’s Rage.” Culture and Truth: The Re-making of Social Analysis. Boston: Beacon, 1989. 1-21.
Behar, Ruth. “Introduction: The Talking Serpent.” Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza's story. Boston : Beacon Press, 1993. 1-20.
Transition and Location,
The Readings, p. 2
hooks, bell. “Homeplace: A Site of Resistance.” Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics. Boston: South End, 1990. 41-50.
Rich, Adrienne. “Notes towards a Politics of Location.” Blood, Bread, and Poetry: Selected Prose, 1979-1985. New York: Norton, 1986. 210-231.
Days 8-9 (October 31 & November 7):
Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York : Plume, 1988.
Days 10-11 (November 14 & 21):
Shakespeare, William. King Lear. 1608; rpt. The Arden Edition. New York: Metheun, 1972.
Day 12 (November 28):
Percy, Walker. “The Loss of the Creature.” The Message in the Bottle: How Queer Man Is, How Queer Language Is, and What One Has to Do with the Other. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1975. 46-63.
Duckworth, Eleanor. “The Having of Wonderful Ideas.” The Having of Wonderful Ideas and Other Essays on Teaching and Learning. New York: Teachers College Press, 1987. 1-14.
Day 13 (December 5):
Ozick, Cynthia. “Metaphor and Memory.” Metaphor and Memory: Essays. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1989. 265-283.
Homer. Book Seven. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Anchor, 1963. 111-116.
Day 14 (December 12):
Auden. W.H. “Introduction: Concerning the Unpredictable.” The Star Thrower. By Loren Eiseley. New York: Times, 1978. 15-24.
Eiseley, Loren. “The Star Thrower.” The Star Thrower. 169-185.
-----. “The Hidden Teacher.” The Star Thrower. 116-128.