The Craft of Writing
R1B-006 | CCN: 24414
Instructor: Pe Feijo & William Morgan
T/TH 5:00 – 6:30 PM, Dwinelle 223 ///
Jorge Luis Borges once wrote that “there is no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is one.” In this course, we will consider the nature and implications of Borges’ labyrinthine proposition about existence: to what extent is life labyrinthine? And if it is so, to what extent will the continued accumulation of facts and information help us or not help us chart a way out of said labyrinth? Does such a fabled “way out” of our labyrinth even exist at all, or is seeking an exit the very wrong course that entraps us further? What ought be our relationship to the mysteriousness promised in the labyrinth?
In this course, we will pursue these threads and others, reading the tales of J.L. Borges alongside diverse philosophical, literary, poetic, and aesthetic interlocutors to do so. We will consider not only the construction and creation of labyrinths, but also their creaturely inhabitants, asking after these beings’ likeness, their attributes, and their affects: who lurks within the maze? Why are they there? What secrets do they know? Who navigates the labyrinth well? And what does it mean to navigate it well? What can we learn from those dextrous beings? Finally, we will conclude by asking, to what extent we too find ourselves ensnared in labyrinthine formations in our own daily lives, and importantly what effects this ensnarement has upon us and what we might do about it. In this way we will engage in a discussion of the present, the techno-political changes it portends for the macropolitical socius and the micropolitical body with the labyrinth as both a conceptual tool and optical metaphor.
Over the course of the semester, we will develop research and argumentative skills through our exploration of theoretical and literary texts that transverse and connect knowledge, power, colonialism, feminism, technology, and monstrosity. We will build on the skills already acquired in the R1A course and introduce new skills for conducting research; evaluating and engaging with outside sources; and composing progressively longer papers that cite those sources. Writing assignments will include short in-class and online writing exercises, peer-review, a midterm paper, and a 10-12 page final paper. The midterm and the final papers will include a research component for which students will need to independently consult and engage with secondary materials outside of the course reader.