Fall 2014


Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-113


Frederick T. Griffiths (Section 01)


With a focus on close reading and persuasive argumentation, we ask two linked questions: How has Western culture defined itself through tales and declarations of liberation? How have such texts even in affirming freedom also imposed constraining norms of gender, class, ethnicity, and sexuality?

We start with the slave narratives of Frederick Douglass and Mary Prince, and then look back to ancient accounts of deliverance, including Homer’s Odyssey; the Books of Genesis, Exodus, and Isaiah; and the Gospel of Matthew. From the modern era we read Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger. We also analyze the act of claiming freedom in the American Declaration of Independence, Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women, and documents and films from liberation movements.    

This seminar aims to develop critical skills and expresssive range through discussion, as informed by questions and comments submitted before class, and through writing five essays of increasing complexity in consultation with the instructor. Students regularly collaborate in groups to debate and lead discussion, and learn to use the resources of the Writing Center and Library.

Fall semester. Professor Griffiths.


2021-22: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014