This course takes as its theme “madness and desire” as depicted within a range of literary genres, including short stories, plays, poems, and two novels. In particular, we will use the “ways of reading” model (reader-text-world) to consider the way in which readers, texts, and societies express, channel, and regulate desire and mark it as excessive and abnormal. Formal and informal class assignments will emphasize close reading and the use of theoretical “lenses” to cultivate critical thinking skills and enhance the pleasure derived from sustained engagement with literary texts. A non-traditional assignment will provide students with the opportunity to respond to one of the novels we have read by crafting a postscript. Students should come to each class expecting to engage thoughtfully and rigorously with the assigned readings. Course requirements include various informal writings and homework assignments, reading quizzes, three formal essays, one creative work, a learning portfolio, and a final exam.