ENGL 2011 Sections: Spring 2016

ENGL 2011 (Honors I: Literary Study through Reading and Research) is a four-credit Honors introduction to writing across the curriculum, and it fulfills the freshman English requirement for Honors students.

First-year Honors students who have not satisfied the freshman English requirement through AP, ECE, or transfer credit for ENGL 1010/1011 must take ENGL 2011 (instead of 1010 or 1011) in order to earn Sophomore Honors. This course is also strongly recommended for all first-year Honors students. Study of literature—and the development of important critical reading, writing, and information literacy skills—in the university setting is essential preparation for further study in a wide variety of fields.

There are two themed “pods” of ENGL 2011 for this semester, each of which consists of multiple sections supervised by an English faculty member.

Texts and Paratexts

“Texts and Paratexts” will examine the relationship between literary texts and their packaging broadly considered.  Paratexts refer to things like book bindings, cover matter, introductions, notes, illustrations, author interviews, critical editions, dramatic adaptations, films, and so on, the things that influence how we think about a text before we read it. A study of paratexts is a chapter in the larger study of the material history of the book.  We will consider how paratexts for a single text change over time, and each student will work on an individual case study that explores the history of paratexts related to a text of their choice.  Such case studies are a form of biography of the book.

James Baldwin

In this course we will study the life and work of James Baldwin, one of the most important American writers of the twentieth century. Baldwin was a novelist and playwright, literary and cultural critic, and one of the greatest essayists of all time. Best known for his work produced during the height of the Civil Rights era, Baldwin’s voice remains relevant today. Many of the topics that drew Baldwin’s keen attention remain critical topics of our public discussions: race and racism, economic and social equality, gender and sexual orientation, the social role of the artist, the political role of literary art, as well as alienation, love, and faith. We will read selected major works by Baldwin and delve into his incredible insights into American race relations in the 1950s and 1960s, but we will also discuss the relevance of his thinking and writing for our own time. The course allows us to take advantage of some timely opportunities taking place at UConn during the spring semester. A recently-restored version of the Baldwin documentary The Price of the Ticket will be shown on campus, and students in this course will have the unique opportunity to discuss the film with the filmmakers. Our study of Baldwin will also frame contributions to a university-wide discussion on race that will be facilitated through the 2015-2016 UConn Reads program. Students will read a portion of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and be encouraged to attend events related to UConn Reads.  Students should expect very regular assignments and opportunities for discussion.  Students will conduct guided research exercises and projects related to the study of Baldwin’s work and his impact on American literature and culture. The final grade will be based on regular assignments, a midterm exam, a research essay, and class participation (including online discussion through a course HuskyCT site).