The Scriptorium: Masks and Metamorphoses (WRI2162.01)

Alex Creighton

“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”
― André Berthiaume

The Scriptorium, a “place for writing,” is a class for writers interested in improving their critical essay-writing skills. We will read to write and write to read. Much of our time will be occupied with writing and revising—essai means “trial” or “attempt”—as we work to create new habits and productive strategies for analytical writing. As we write in various essay structures with the aim of developing a persuasive, well-supported thesis statement, we will also revise collaboratively, improve our research and citation skills, and study grammar and style. We will strive for clarity, concision, and expressiveness as we read and respond to a variety of historical and contemporary texts.

This Scriptorium is about the complex relationship between who we are and who we present to the world, and how this relationship changes over time. We will think about this topic in a variety of contexts ranging from racial passing to gender and sexual covering to forms of becoming in contemporary fandom and transgender literature. When is masking necessary to survive or thrive? To what degree does masking involve concealing or revealing one’s identity? We will think about masks and metamorphoses in novels, short stories, poetry, drama, autobiographical prose, films and graphic novels. Our readings may include primary works by Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, Oscar Wilde, Eliza Haywood, Charlotte Charke, Shakespeare, Ovid, James Baldwin, Liana Finck, Casey Plett, Cameron Awkward-Rich, Ash Kreis; and critical texts by Judith Butler, Jack Halberstam, Hortense Spillers, Laura Mulvey, bell hooks, Danzy Senna, Jennifer Nash, Andrea Long Chu, and Caroline Bynum Walker.

Learning Outcomes:
Broadly speaking, this class will teach you how to engage with the discipline and practice of critical essay-writing. This breaks down into more specific learning outcomes, which are as follows:
* Masks and Metamorphoses. You will learn to think broadly about how masking and unmasking have long been connected to self-identity and self-creation.
* Writing and Revision. You will practice the skills that come with writing insightful essays, including analyzing texts, weaving analysis into an argument, writing thesis statements and topic sentences, and finding a compelling structure for your ideas. You will also practice grammar and revision skills that help you express those ideas with clarity and precision.
* Working with Critical Sources. You will learn to research online and in Crossett Library, read and annotate critical sources, and put sources in conversation with your own ideas and with other criticism.
* Collaboration. You will learn to be astute readers of and respondents to one another’s writing. You will participate in helping create a supportive and inclusive writing community where we all learn from each other.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 10:00AM - 11:50AM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: 2000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Writing
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