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Criticism's Possible Futures

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number WRTNG-UG1044
Section 001
Instructor Ben Ratliff
Days R
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Units 4
Level U



Cultural criticism, first, is an impulse: taking the full measure of what’s before you. Then it is a method: looking at what’s underneath the subject, how it connects with what else you know, questioning assumptions and received wisdom. But it is not a form or style. In this course you’ll focus on the ways that criticism can go (and has long gone) beyond the classical review or argumentative-essay model, and toward other modes: philosophy; memoir; journalism; poetry; link-oriented blog post; biography or eulogy of a person, thing, place, or idea; interrogative or satirical exercise. Readings may include Oscar Wilde, Teju Cole, Rebecca Solnit, John Berger, June Jordan, James Baldwin, Wayne Koestenbaum, George Orwell, and Anne Carson. Written work consists of one essay exploring your attraction to and/or frustration with the way you see general-audience criticism; two essays responding to syllabus readings; and two more on original topics.


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Course Type

Advanced Writing Courses (WRTNG-UG)