Instructor: Marlen Elliot Harrison, PhD, MA
Course: English 101–003, 013, 017
Schedule: MWF 8:00-8:50; 11:15-12:05; 12:20-1:10
Class Room: Leonard Hall, Rm 202
Office: 201 G Leonard Hall
Office Hours: M/W/F 9am-11am or by appointment (please email me)
Mailbox: Faculty mailbox in Leonard 110
The Sensory Self: What is I?
Course Description and Rationale: “Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul” (from The Picture of Dorian Gray). We experience and interpret our worlds in unique ways by employing each of our five senses, sometimes individually, often collaboratively. In this course, students will keep classroom blogs and develop essays inspired by an examination of the five senses (is there a sixth?), inquiries that will serve as introductions to the various genres, conventions and structures of English composition. Such writing will also aid us in a deeper understanding of the ways we experience the world and what we bring to our writing. We’ll begin with a Japanese folktale, as told by Dr. Hayao Kawai, that asks the question “What is I?” and use Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses as our main text. From there, we’ll examine a diverse array of texts from Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” to Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate. Through self-directed writing projects; sensory workshops (such as taste and smell testing); small group and instructor-student discussion; and writing, reading, and revising activities, students will be introduced to qualitative inquiry and achieve a greater understanding of how they come to know themselves and the worlds in which they inhabit. The course will culminate in a final autoethnographic work that uses the sensory essays as data for analysis to answer the question “What IS I?”, offering an introduction to phenomenological research.