Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

Reading in Slow Motion

01:090:294:04 Index# 13266
Professor Richard Miller, SAS - English
MW 1:10-2:30PM
Academic Building, Room 1100
College Ave Campus


Will Count Towards SAS - English Major and Minor

In this course, we will read one volume of nonfiction prose, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts. Nelson is a poet, memoirist, theorist, activist: her writing doesn’t settle comfortably into any one genre nor does the life she describes living. What is the Self? What is the body? How malleable are they? What is love? What is conformity? How much do stories shape our expectations of the lives we might live? Nelson gets her readers to consider these questions and more as she moves her mind over the patterns in her life.

Why one book? We learn not by reading, but by re-reading. And yet, you could scan university syllabi the world over and you would find few, if any, courses where the time is accorded to provide for the possibility of rereading a text that has already been covered. In this seminar, we will be learning about how we read by moving slowly through a text that is rich, challenging, and unsettling.

Why this book? The publisher’s page for Nelson’s book describes it as “a gender-bending memoir, a work of ‘autotheory’ offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language.” Nelson offers an extended meditation on the most fundamental question we can ask as a species, a question that bridges the humanities, the social sciences, the sciences, and the professions: what is a person?

What else will we read? We will build the rest of the reading list together as we move through Nelson’s text.

What will you do besides read? This is a course in essayistic thinking. As such, it is a course designed to cultivate curiosity and original, research-based writing. There will be brief response papers along the way, as we make our way through Nelson’s book. And there will be a final, research-based paper that explores a question of the student’s choosing.

Who should take this course? Anyone who wants to be a better reader. Anyone who wants to learn how to write creatively about the real world. Anyone who wants to acquire the habits of the creative mind.