English 181: Friendship

“Friendship,” said Christopher Robin, “is a very comforting thing to have.”

— A.A. Milne

What does it mean to call a person friend?  What is friendship’s place in our modern world?  In this writing intensive course, students will investigate friendship — its origins, history, boundaries, and complexities — via literature, philosophy, criticism, and other pertinent avenues.  To that end, the course will include considerations of gender, “love poetry,” sovereignty, children’s literature, and contemporary culture.  In addition, students will study the particular influence of friendship and collaboration on the writing process — this is a composition course, after all — practicing textual criticism via classroom collaboration.  Ultimately, having worked together to enrich and improve their individual experiences of writing, students will establish/produce a classroom canon of friendship texts.

Student essays and responses will serve as major texts for this course.  Additional texts will be comprised of various genres and styles moving chronologically from creation mythology and classical rhetoric to televised drama and contemporary popular song.  We will also spend a great deal of time with early modern literature.  Texts may include Cicero’s De amicitia, selections from Aristotle’s Nicomachian Ethics, portions of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Michele de Montaigne’s “De l’Amitié,” Shakespeare’s Two Noble Kinsmen, Marlowe’s Edward II, John Donne’s Songs and Sonnets, George Herbert’s The Temple, portions of the Bible and Milton’s Paradise Lost, A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves, and episodes of Buffy the Vampire SlayerFriends, and Sex and the City.  Students are also encouraged to suggest or contribute texts (readings, songs, etc.) for our classroom experience.

Students can expect to write and extensively revise four major essays, at least one of which will include a research component. These essays, along with other projects, will be collected into a graded final portfolio.  Students will also write brief response papers, keep a journal, and respond reflectively to course content and their own writing processes via letters to the instructor.

Emory University, Spring 2013
For the collaborative course website, click here.