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First-Year Writing Seminar: Writers on Writing

Semester and Year FA 2015
Course Number FIRST-UG343
Section 001
Instructor June Foley
Days MW
Time 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


George Orwell named four reasons for writing: “egoism,” “aesthetic enthusiasm,” “historical impulse,” and “political purpose.” Franz Kafka stressed the emotional power of words in describing writing as “an ax for the frozen sea within us.” Gustave Flaubert stressed the limitations of language, as “a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when all the while we long to move the stars to pity.” In this course, students learn to write the academic essay while reading and analyzing writing  about  writing. Our texts, exemplary works in various genres, may include essays by Orwell and Joan Didion; Rainer Maria Rilke’s  Letters to a Young Poet ; Lillian Ross’s  New Yorker  profile of Ernest Hemingway; a speech and TV interview with Zadie Smith, an essay and TV interview with David Foster Wallace, and brief print interviews with Yiyun Li and Gary Shteyngart; Julian Barnes’s novel  Flaubert’s Parrot ; and short stories about the writing life by E.L. Doctorow, Grace Paley, Lorrie Moore, Etgar Keret, and Alice Munro. We may attend a reading, and a writer or editor will be our guest.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Writing Seminars (FIRST-UG)