Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness; Jacobs, Harriet: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Marryat, Florence: The Blood of the Vampire
Other texts may include: "A Subtlety," Kara Walker; "We Ate the Birds," Margaret Atwood; "Tales from the Breast," Hiromi Goto; The Blob, dir. Chuck Russell; and other selected films, poems, and short stories.
In this course we will collectively re-think what we think we know about eating bodies. We will build and share nuanced analyses of the many meanings of food, practices of eating, and bodies who eat, as well as bodies who eat other bodies. To guide our exploration, we will consider frameworks from feminist fat studies, postcolonial studies, critical race studies, disability studies, and queer-of-color critique. We will ask: who gets to eat and what do they eat? What counts as “eating”? When is eating understood to be normal, healthy, and wholesome, and when is it represented as excessive, addictive, immoral, disruptive, horrifying, and/or pathological? Whose bodies supply food and sustenance for other bodies? Whose bodies are categorized as parasitic, vampiric, cannibalistic, or otherwise unruly eaters? We will seek out texts (books, but also films, short stories, art installations, and other cultural artifacts) and practice interpretive strategies that help us dig into the strange, complex, and multidimensional meanings of eating bodies. We’ll begin our exploration with a cluster of late-nineteenth-century texts, focusing on the racialized and gendered history of eating bodies in the context of imperialism and slavery. Midway through the course, students (that’s you) will nominate and vote on texts for us to study together. We will develop our critical and analytical skills through reading, writing, and other rhetorical modes that enable exploration, argumentation, and critique. We will work together to tackle the challenge of developing and revising interesting, substantive projects that change over time to reflect our emerging ideas.
More information about this section of English R1A will be posted here once it is available.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, Wordsworth, William: Lyrical Ballads; Eliot, George: Silas Marner; Flaubert, Gustave: Madame Bovary; Smith, Zadie: White Teeth
A course packet including all other readings will be available for purchase.
How have writers attempted to depict “real life” from the 19th century to today? This course explores the relationship between life (“the real”) and literature (“realism”). We’ll explore a variety of realism’s modes, beginning with 19th-century realism as practiced by William Wordsworth, Gustave Flaubert, and George Eliot and then moving through Naturalism, the Modernist recasting of realism, magical realism, cinematic neorealism, and what has been characterized as the “hysterical realism” of our contemporary moment. In addition to the major texts listed above, the course reader will also include texts by practitioners and critics of realism such as Charles Baudelaire, Emile Zola, Virginia Woolf, Jorge Luis Borges, Roland Barthes, James Wood, and Nicholas Dames.
The primary goal of this class is to develop the skills for effective scholarly writing, to which end we will write and rewrite frequently. We will reflect upon processes of rewriting, considering how texts get written into and out of what constitutes reality as such. Expository and argumentative writing are two practical modes that you’ll develop in your own writing in this course. Alongside our reflections on narrative in works of the 19th and 20th centuries, we’ll also think about our own work as creators of contemporary scholarly narratives. Throughout the semester, students will produce several papers of varying length and will work through the stages of outlining, drafting, editing, peer-review, and revising.
Due to the unconventional reading list, there will a reader instead of a book list for this course. Authors read, however, will include Giovanni Boccaccio, Shakespeare, Franz Kafka, Edgar Allan Poe, and Emily Dickinson, as well as William Carlos Williams, Margaret Atwood, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, John Updike and Junot Diaz, among others.
In an 1846 essay on composition, Edgar Allan Poe wrote, “If any literary work is too long to be read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable from unity of impression—for, if two sittings be required, the affairs of the world interfere, and every thing like totality is at once destroyed.” If any time has taken this advice to heart, it is our own. Not only does most of the prose we consume take one sitting, but often stretches no longer than the length of our computer and smart phone screens. The demands of the information age break our time into smaller and smaller segments, encouraging what Poe once endorsed: stories designed for the in-between of “the affairs of the world.” While some lament this perpetual truncation of expression—perhaps rightly—there have never been more platforms for short narrative. Not only does the short story rule contemporary fiction, but also digital journalism and social media platforms, which have invented an entirely new form of aphoristic self-expression. In more ways than one, we live in the age of short stories and, in this course, we will examine how “short form,” broadly defined, has shaped our contemporary notions of writing, rhetoric and composition. Why—now and in the past—have short forms been particularly valued? What does it mean to value the short over the long? We will examine a range of examples from across literary and cultural history—the literary short story, the fable, the short essay, the short film, flash fiction, blog posts, listiciles, Tweets, FaceBook statuses, Vines, pop songs, sonnets, the short lyric, short-form digital journalism, TV episodes and their online counterpart, “webisodes.”
In terms of the content of this course, there will be two rules: 1) we will not read anything lengthier than the course’s longest writing assignment (a 5-7 page essay), 2) we will not listen to or watch anything with a run-time longer than a half-hour. This course will be true to its title: we will engage with short work. This does not mean, however, that our work will be short or easy; indeed, sustained thought and concentration will be required to draw out the themes and forms of these short works, perhaps more than that needed for longer works. Our meditation on the purpose, use and value of short forms will be inextricably tied to the writing assignments in this course, which (despite how one may feel the night before a paper is due) will be, like the vast majority of undergraduate essays, exercises in short form themselves. We will carry our discussions of the short form in literature and culture into our discussion of composition and ask questions of scale, form and content: how much can we expect to convey in a short essay? In what ways can we stretch form to convey more content in a shorter space? Is it even wise to try—and, yet, don’t we have to? There will be a 2-page short essay, followed by two critical essays, including extensive revisions; this will be supplemented by trying our hand at several of the short forms we will read, including the short story, flash fiction and the short personal essay. This class will be particularly concerned with arguments and making arguments in condensed spaces. Thus, we will examine first hand the long work of short work.
Dorfman, Ariel: Death and the Maiden; Hamid, Mohsin: The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Hansberry, Lorraine: A Raisin in the Sun; Melville, Herman: Billy Budd, Sailor
Rope (dir. Alfred Hitchock, 1940); 12 Angry Men (dir. Sidney Lumet, 1957); La Noire de… (dir. Ousmane Sembène, 1966); Night of the Living Dead (dir. George A. Romero, 1968); Dog Day Afternoon (dir. Sidney Lumet, 1975); One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (dir. Miloš Forman, 1975); Clue (dir. Jonathan Lynn, 1985); Festen (The Celebration) (dir. Thomas Vinterberg, 1998)
What kinds of boundaries, classifications, and restrictions do we experience in our daily lives? What are our legal obligations; our material confines; our ethnic, gender, and sexual identities; our financial limitations; our diagnoses; our requirements for citizenship or residency? How, if at all, might we escape these many regulations?
When we write—or create art—what rules of grammar, form, and communication must we follow? How do we work with deadlines, word counts, time limits, budgets, and finite resources?
In this course, we will explore these questions as we read, watch, and evaluate artistic works that ensnare us in physical spaces—from cramped apartments to ships at sea to mental hospitals to “safe houses” in a zombie apocalypse. In some cases, these spaces of entrapment or isolation alleviate the social constraints people typically face; in other cases, these spaces intensify such constraints. How might the conditions of the characters, as well as the conditions of the writers and artists, converge with or diverge from our own?
As we analyze the various aesthetic strategies that our authors/directors use to illuminate, resist, or “make the best of” the oppressions of physical and social confinement, we will work on developing our own strategies of critical writing that can do the same. We will begin with two short exercises that emphasize sentence craft and close reading, then shift our focus toward conceptualizing and outlining essay-length arguments, and conclude with work on drafting, revising, and “finalizing” scholarly papers (one 3-page, one 5-page, and one 7-page) in their full form.
Please be advised that all readings and films in the course are required; some texts include graphic violence and sexually explicit subject matter.
Armitage, Simon (translator): Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Morrison, Toni: A Mercy; Shakespeare, William: The Tempest
A course reader available from Copy Central (2576 Bancroft).
What does it mean to imagine another world? Is it an opportunity for unvarnished fantasy, or for critical reflection on your own society? Can you tell the truth when writing about an invented place? By way of an answer, this course traces a history of the other world from the later Middle Ages to the modern era. We will begin with literature that imagines places beyond our everyday experience: the landscape of dreams and fairyland. In the second half of the course, we will turn to literary reflections on settler colonialism – reflections informed by these earlier “marvelous” other-world journeys, but describing events with real ongoing consequences in modern life. Throughout the semester, we will examine the contexts – historical, political, literary, religious, and scientific – that help us to better understand these works.
This course is intended to teach you to pose analytical questions, develop complex and original arguments supported by textual evidence, and participate in an intellectual conversation with your colleagues. You will write and revise three substantial and original essays in this course. A number of shorter exercises will build skills in analysis and expository writing that will apply throughout your future career. Finally, you will be asked throughout the semester to share your own work, as well as to read and engage with your classmates’ writing.
Baker, Kyle: Nat Turner; Bechdel, Alison: Fun Home; Clowes, Daniel: Ghost World; Moore, Alan and Gibbons, Dave: Watchmen; Rankine, Claudia: Citizen; Sacco, Joe: Palestine; Tomine, Adrian: Shortcomings;
Recommended: Carson, Anne: Nox
Reader including works by John Keats, William Blake, William Carlos Williams, W.H. Auden, Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, Scott McCloud, and others. Film adaptations TBD.
This class will look at a variety of works that combine image and text to tell stories. How, we will ask, do words and images play with, against, or off of one another when we read these hybrid texts? How has their combination helped authors alternately to create fantastical new worlds, document the painfully or playfully quotidian, or navigate very real and frequently traumatic personal and national histories? What special demands do these forms make on their readers? What narrative and thematic possibilities do they open up?
In this course, you will be asked to write several short essays of increasing length in order to develop your academic reading and writing skills. We will work on reading critically, posing analytical questions, and crafting and supporting well-reasoned arguments through both these papers and additional in-class exercises. Students will be asked to draft, revise, and peer-review their written assignments over the course of the semester.
Douglass, Frederick: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself; Fern, Fanny: Ruth Hall and Other Writings; Keller, Helen: The World I Live In; Stowe, Harriet Beecher: Uncle Tom's Cabin
A course reader containing short works by William Apess, Mary L. Day, Helen DeKroyft, Sarah Mapps Douglass, Elsie Fuller, Frances E. W. Harper, E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake), Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Lydia Sigourney, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, William Walker, Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin), and others.
"The artist . . . is the holiest reformer of them all, for she is creating."—Paulina Wright Davis, The Una, 1854
"Polemics . . . are not likely to be epics. They are likely to be pamphlets, even when they are disguised as stories and plays."—Albert Murray, The Omni-Americans, 1970
The American nineteenth century was quintessentially an era of social reform, as a diverse array of activists fought for a broad range of political causes and societal improvements. In our course, we will take up four of the most galvanizing and far-reaching social movements of the era: the battles for the rights of Native Americans, slaves, women, and individuals with disabilities. More specifically, we will take up a variety of novels, short stories, and poems produced by and for these movements, asking how literature transformed and was transformed by the reformist projects considered. How can the act of turning from the "real" to the imaginative render the author or artist "the holiest reformer we have"? Are the categories of "polemic" and "epic"—activisim and artistry—truly mutually exclusive? In short, what kind of change could literature hope to create, and what kind of literature would be created by the hope of social change?
Throughout the course, we will be attuned not only to the role of writing in the nineteenth century but also to its importance for you as students and thinkers today. The course is designed to develop the skills necessary for college-level writing, so over the course of the semester, you will outline, draft, workshop, write, and rewrite a series of papers, refining along the way your ability to read meticulously and write persuasively. After our work together, you will have engaged in numerous ways with an exciting array of primary texts from a dynamic and turbulent series of historical moments. More broadly, you can expect to read texts more closely, to write more clearly, to speak more confidently, and to think more critically not only within the context of this course but in your future studies at Berkeley and beyond.
More information about this class will be posted here once it is available.
Lopate, Phillip : The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology
In a course reader, we'll read selections from: Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist; David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster; Joan Didion, Blue Nights; The Best American Nature and Science Writing 2014, ed., Deborah Blum; David Rakoff, Half Empty; Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
This course will move rapidly through time, navigating the dense and heterogeneous terrains of the essay as a form in English. From the wondrous and choppy syntactical shores of Renaissance prose (Francis Bacon, Erasmus and Montaigne), to the razor-sharp wit of the 19th century (William Hazlitt, Charles Lamb), to the resplendent and various depths of the 20th century (James Baldwin, George Orwell, Joan Didion, Jumpha Lahiri and David Foster Wallace), we will chart a path through the essay as a form while continually appealing to the practice of essay composition.
The course will explore various modes of essayistic genre and address (the confessional, the scholarly, the pop scientific essay), but also the underlying formal and creative functions at work in these styles. We will address the extent to which ‘creative nonfiction’ has emerged as its own teachable category, and try to understand how its institutionalization has affected the form of the essay. Throughout, several underlying questions will help us formulate our understanding of the essay: how is self-exploration thematized in the voice of the author? How does the essayistic genre change our concept of authorial ‘voice’? What is the difference between voice and persona? What is the function of ‘personality’ as a literary construct in the essay? Finally, how do these concepts relate to our contemporary understanding of ‘the personal’? Our core text (containing about 80% of our readings) will be Philip Lopate’s The Art of the Personal Essay, though further material will be regularly made available through bCourses.
As in all sections of English R1B, you will also practice your skills in argumentation through writing and revision, learn to use secondary sources effectively, and develop research skills necessary to write a longer research essay on a topic of your choosing.
Ashbery, John: Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror; Berrigan, Ted: The Sonnets; Mayer , Bernadette: Midwinter Day; Reed, Ishmael: Mumbo Jumbo; Waldman, Anne: Fast Speaking Woman
Course reader with writings by Ron Padget, Joe Brainard, Alice Notley, Eileen Myles, Hannah Weiner, Patti Smith, Richard Meltzer, Lester Bangs, Jane Jacobs and others.
Non-print media: Poetry in Motion (Dir. Ron Mann); Permanent Vacation (Dir. Jim Jarmusch); Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks; Miles Davis: On the Corner; No New York (curated by Brian Eno); Public Access Poetry
In the decade of urban decay, energy crisis, deindustrialization, and Watergate, artists of all stripes were thrown back on their own resources, seeking the means and reasons for continuing the avant-garde’s project of cultural revolution after the political defeats of the late 1960s. In this course we will examine 1970s New York as a time and place of both collapse and reinvention. Devoting special attention to particular locations that served as vital sites of activity for the remnants of the postwar counterculture—most obviously, the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, the SoHo lofts, Max’s Kansas City, and CBGB—we will examine the shifts and reversals of this era across a variety of media that both exemplify and challenge the category of “literature.” At a time when academic thought about literature was itself undergoing radical restructuring in the Anglo-American university’s adoption of European literary theory, members of the American literary culture began to migrate into other media such as music, film and television in order to locate new possibilities for their work. Faced with unprecedented obstacles to their flourishing, artists thus found that their best skill was to become moving targets.
Since this is an R1B course, students will continue developing the skills in critical reading and essay composition that they began to cultivate in R1A. This time around we will build upon those skills by introducing students to the basics of research methodology as they produce final research papers on a topic of their choice pertaining to the course materials. Students will learn how to locate and cite scholarly articles relevant to their topic of interest. We will continue to work on writing and argumentation skills in a series of in-class exercises, revisions and peer editing workshops.
Coetzee, J.M.: Disgrace; Smith, Zadie: On Beauty; Woolf, Virginia: Three Guineas
Selections from the following theorists and historians will be made available online: Matthew Arnold, Wendy Brown, John Dewey, Immanuel Kant, Achille Mbembe, Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, Nietzsche, Christopher Newfield, Cardinal Newman, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Craig Steven Wilder, and Mary Wollstonecraft.
In addition, students will follow higher education news coverage in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.
The purpose, nature, and structure of higher education in the West are currently undergoing dramatic revision. Tuition is rising steadily at both private and public institutions, as public support for teaching and research shifts; concerns and hopes abound about the potential of Massive Open Online Courses to revolutionize education; and every few months, an Op-Ed appears in a major publication defending the model of a broad humanities education against critics who demand to know what tangible value such education offers for students. In 2015, student demonstrations against administrative attitudes toward alleged racism on campuses across the US––and, simultaneously, South Africa––sparked additional heated debates about the intellectual, political, and personal nature of the spaces in which students live and learn.
Against this backdrop, this course will undertake a rigorous analysis of the ideals and realities of higher education, adopting interpretive lenses from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. With works of philosophy, we will explore the relationship between education, theories of human nature, and social contracts. With works of literature, we will interrogate the relation between higher education and various forms of power and social privilege. We will read contemporary critical essays championing the value of a broad, liberal education, and we will analyze the historical transformation of the organizational structure of universities in the U.S, U.K, and South Africa. In other words, this course integrates literary, historical, and philosophical perspectives to consider the past, present, and possible futures of higher education.
In addition to exploring questions surrounding higher education, students will develop their writing skills, practicing integrating close-readings of literature with research in other disciplines.
Perez, Craig Santos: from unincorporated territory [guma’]; Rankine, Claudia: Citizen: An American Lyric; Rosenwasser , David, and Jill Stephen: Writing Analytically; Taylor, Tess: Work & Days
Additional readings will be supplied in a course reader / electronically.
How can reading and writing be of value to our everyday lives—not only to us as reflective individuals, but as active members of various communities, in interaction with each other?
Reading and writing are often thought of as solitary activities. Poetry, when it’s thought of at all, is often understood as an act of personal expression. But as uses of language they are inherently social acts—events of representation, knowledge-production, and communication—that relate persons to each other by relaying experiences, ideas, and values. To work to understand the words of others is to work to understand others’ worlds. Texts are always part of contexts, purposeful contributions to an ongoing, broader conversation.
This course is a collaborative exploration in thinking about and addressing communities and their interrelations. Students will complete frequent writing assignments leading up to a 5-7 page essay and a 8-10 page research project, which will each be revised.
The first half of the semester will be spent practicing a process of inquiry by investigating a “contact zone” of your choice. In her essay “Arts of the Contact Zone” Mary Louise Pratt coins this term to refer to “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today” (34). After reading Pratt’s essay, you will choose such a local space where groups are in conflict—on campus, in your housing or workplace, in town, etc. In successive writing assignments, you will investigate and analyze this space and the relations between its groups, sharing your work with your peers, learning from each other, and giving each other feedback. The project will culminate in producing a “protest” in a genre of your choice, making an intervention in order to improve community relations in your contact zone.
In the second half of the course we will turn our attention to inquiry and writing by drawing on textual research rather than field observations. Our focus will be on select books of poetry—examples of what I call “community poetics,” where the poet is representing not just her own experience in her poems, but the experiences and concerns of a community, such as black citizens of the US, or Chamorro persons from Guam. You will choose such a book as the primary text for your final research project, working through a guided process to produce your own insights on the literary work and the larger conversation in which it takes part. While you are pursuing this personal project, in class we will practice using various kinds of secondary sources to enhance our collaborative analysis of poetic examples addressing racism, imperialism, and ecological concerns as they are experienced by communities in the 20-teens.
McCarthy, Cormac: The Road; Morrison, Toni : Beloved
All other readings—poetry, selected criticism, short stories—will be provided in a course reader.
What’s in an ending? In this class, we will explore literature about endings: personal endings (elegiac forms), national endings (the end of an era), and apocalyptic endings (the end of the world). In addition, we will focus our class on the question of how each text ends. Endings can serve a variety of purposes—as a new beginning, a failure to let go, a neat conclusion. We will strive to characterize the ending of each text in order to question how formal decisions contribute to its “sense” of an ending.
The goal of R1B is to develop your writing and research skills. As such, we will pay particular attention to the question often introduced by the ends of our own essays: so what? How do we determine the context of our arguments? How do we frame our arguments so as to intervene in a particular critical framework? You will write and revise two long essays (~8 pages each) over the course of the semester. You will also be responsible for weekly reading assignments, peer writing reviews, and an ongoing writing journal.
Cruz, Nilo: Anna in the Tropics; Fraxedes, J. Joaquin: The Lonely Crossing of Juan Cabrera; Garcia, Cristina: Dreaming in Cuban; Hemingway, Ernest: The Old Man and the Sea; Hijuelos, Oscar: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
The class will watch selected episodes of I Love Lucy.
Secondary critical texts provided by instructor.
The history of Cubans living in the US is a complicated one, caught between the US’s imperialist wars of the late-19th and early-20th centuries and the Cold War machinations of the first and second worlds. This course will consider the cultural representation of Cubans and Cuba within the US, and, in particular, look to the Cuban-American novel as repository of the divergent and conflicting historical narratives that have produced and been produced by Cuban-Americans. In this way, the generational struggles of Cuban-Americans (and, in particular, the lasting image of the émigré in Cuban-American culture) will be related as a focal point, through which drastically different senses of Cubanidad have come to be represented. This course will look to interrogate a selected set of literature closely alongside Cuban-American scholarship in order to generate specific underlying problematics, questions, and relationships that can be used for student research. This course will emphasize research skills and the construction of complex arguments in composition.
Achebe, Chinua: Things Fall Apart; Aidoo, Ama Ata: Our Sister Killjoy; Diaz, Junot: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Hagedorn, Jessica: Dogeaters; Hamid, Mohsin: The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Okada, John: No-No Boy
In this course, we will investigate how literature and literary criticism from the 1950s to today has responded to various forms of imperialism, focusing on how the concerns of "postcolonial" texts change according to temporal and spatial locations. Overview questions that will guide our readings include: What constitutes an empire, and what is its relation to literature and culture? How has postcolonial literature used language and form to resist imperialist initiatives and to represent colonial experiences? What can literature tell us about how colonialism intersects with gender, race, nation, and class? We will read literary texts as well as critical and historical works that explore the ongoing aftermaths of the British, Japanese, and U.S. empires. In particular, the course will tend to a number of texts that evoke the question of American empire and concern the implications of reading—or failing to read—the United States as an imperial power.
As we explore literatures of various parts of the world and their historical contexts, we will develop your fluency in college-level academic writing and refine your research skills. This is a writing-intensive course, and accordingly, we will use our class discussions as platforms to hone your skills in generating original research questions and crafting compelling arguments. You will outline, draft, revise, and workshop papers throughout the course of the semester, producing a substantial research paper at the end of the semester according to your own interests.
Adnan, Etel: Night; Gluck, Robert: Margery Kempe; Kapil, Bhanu: Schizophrene; Notley, Alice: Descent of Alette
a course reader including selections from Hildegard of Bingen, S. T. Coleridge, Mary Robinson, William Blake, and song lyrics by Drake.
For I am not taught in this vision to write as the philosophers write; and the words in this vision are not like those which sound from the mouth of man, but like a trembling flame, or like a cloud stirred by the clear air.
—Hildegard of Bingen
In this passage by the twelfth-century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, visionary experience resists academic genres, and instead finds expression through ephemeral forms, partial and passing. We will spend time in this class thinking about the longstanding and continuing connection between mysticism and the fragment. Why and how do visions, locutions, dreams, trances, trips, and prophecies take shape without shape, in shards and ruins? We will consider an eclectic range of texts, from Hildegard’s Scivias, to Romantic poetry, to erotic novels, to recent music (what are the visions of Drake’s Views?), and contemporary poetry. Our semester-long project will be to write and revise a research essay—taking into consideration how the essay itself, which comes from the French word essayer, to try, can be understood as a fragmentary genre, never whole or final. But we will also write in genres and from experiences more explicitly fragmentary: students will keep a dream journal, and innovate their own forms.
Butler, Samuel: Erewhon; Powers, Richard: Galatea 2.2; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein; Čapek, Karel: R.U.R.
A course reader with selections from Coleridge, Hoffman, Kleist, affect theory, and STS
Science fiction often critically investigates how technology affects human drives and desires. Insofar as thought experiments with non-human forms of intelligence and artificial life are major tropes of the genre, representations of computers and robots in film and literature often make us think critically about the very qualities that come to define the human, and what falls outside or threatens the anthropomorphic. How does technology probe the precarity and vulnerability of what we take to be distinctively human qualities and emotions? How do technological narratives hold up a speculative mirror (black or otherwise) to what we take to divide the human from the non-human world? Over the semester, we’ll read major technological narratives alongside contemporary scholarship in affect theory and science and technology studies. You’ll also refine your techniques for innovative writing and research in the humanities and beyond.
Hesse, Hermann: Siddhartha; Pamuk, Orhan: The New Life
A course reader with excerpts from: Ecclesiastes; Augustine, Confessions; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile; Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass; Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience; Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams; John Dewey, Democracy and Education; Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed; Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera
This class explores what it means to be wise, enlightened, or educated. While it will offer no definitive answers to those enormous questions, it will look at how writers in a number of traditions have offered their own answers and written compelling narratives about the process of attaining wisdom. We will read and think comparatively about three related concepts: enlightenment, education, and conversion. What distinguishes them from each other? How does each one, as it’s framed by various writers, demand particular attitudes and ways of behaving from those of us who want to follow these paths? What relevance do such apparently fuzzy or spiritual qualities as “wisdom” or “enlightenment” have for your own college education in 2017?
In the process of reading narratives of enlightenment, you’ll also be writing and developing the research skills that help make you a critical citizen and curator of information in our twenty-first-century digital world. Units on analyzing different genres and media, including newspaper articles, scholarly articles, and film, along with frequent chances to write both formally and informally, will help equip you to write a research paper on a topic of your choosing.
More information about this class will be posted here as soon as it is available.
Condé, Maryse: I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem; Davis, Angela: An Autobiography; Northup, Solomon: Twelve Years a Slave
Jim Jarmusch: Down By Law (film); Steve McQueen: 12 Years a Slave (film); Stuart Baird: U.S. Marshalls (film)
A course reader
Run. Now. Don’t look back. (Wait, come back.) This class will consider the American fugitive. What does it mean for someone to escape some form of imprisonment without being able to lawfully reenter society? Does it mean they sneak in? Take on another identity? Or remain “off the grid”—outside society looking in? We will read depictions of the fugitive through three narrative lenses: recounting, reporting, and recording.
Over the course of the semester, we will read of the escape of an enslaved house servant in Maryse Condé’s voicing of one of America’s first and most interesting recorded prisoners, Tituba, an early scapegoat in the Salem witch trials. We will investigate narratives of flight taken by African-American slaves escaping bondage after the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. We will examine journalistic prose about modern-day fugitives of the law, including Angela Davis, “El Chapo,” and prisoners at Alcatraz. Finally, through film we will analyze fictional narratives of fugitives that imagine the everyday emotional and practical concerns of someone fleeing law enforcement.
In thinking about your own position as a student and budding writer, we will confront a couple of unanswerable questions: Does the fugitive speak? Can he write? Does she write? Can writing play a role in a fugitive’s reentry into or rejection of society? In addition to these questions concerning the elusiveness of the fugitive and fugitive writing, we will discuss examples of fugitive meaning. This course will culminate in a final written research project investigating the broad idea of a “fugitive” as it most interests you. Your writing for this class can pursue historical or contemporary concerns around the topic. Through drafts, peer-review and feedback you will begin to hone your own critical voice. Through longer writing assignments with revisions you will work to complete a 15-20-page research essay.
Butler , Octavia : Blood Child ; Maalouf, Amin: Leo Africanus ; Rowlandson, Mary: The Sovereignty and Goodness of God; Wilson, G. Willow: Ms. Marvel ; Zitkala-Sa: American Indian Stories, Legends and Other Writings
“To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together.” – Archibald MacLeish, comment on the “Earthrise” after the Apollo 8 mission.
While NASA was collecting images of Earth as early as the 1940s, it was not until the 1972, when the famous "Blue Marble" photo was released, that the public saw an image of Earth in its entirety. How did this vision of our home from space affect our perception of our world and our place in it? How could this isolated object, so “small and blue and beautiful,” sustain a global community?
In this class we will interrogate the role that place plays in creating, dividing, and imagining community. How do acts that change inhabitable geographies, such as colonialism, exploitation, and environmental disasters, change the communities formed on that land? How does one's perception of a community change as one physically moves across land, whether traveling, migrating, or making a pilgrimage? How do authors write their characters into, or out of, the communities sustained by the worlds they portray?
The goal of this course is two-fold. Firstly, its aim is to help you develop and strengthen your close reading, critical thinking, use of secondary sources, and research skills as we explore the relationship between people, earth, and our idea or sense of place. And secondly, the course aims to help you develop the ability to craft your analyses into clear and effective academic writing through drafts, revisions, peer-review feedback, and weekly writing exercises.
Anzaldúa, Gloria: Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza ; Cuadros, Gil: City of God; Islas, Arturo: The Rain God: A Desert Tale
Other Required Texts (all available in course reader): Short pieces by authors including but not limited to Cherríe Moraga, Jose Estéban Muñoz, Heather Love, Tomás Almaguer, Antonio Viego, Leo Bersani, Mel Chen, Michael Hames-Garcia, Judith Butler, and David Halperin.
In this course, we will read and write about Chicanx/Latinx literatures and cultural productions that explore GLBT and queer themes. In our approaches to the course materials, we will consider the notion of the queer, GLBT, and Chicano text. What is a queer, Chicano, GLBT text? What is queer, Chicano, and/or GLBT writing? How and to what extent are these identitarian descriptors appropriate to the texts we study? Alongside these questions, we will also consider the interrelationships between art and activism. Can literature “do” activism? How and to what extent? In the types of literature we will be reading, is it even supposed to? What are the costs? These are some of the questions we ask as we read a set of multivalent texts situated within a triangle encompassing the Texas Río Grande Valley, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
As we analyze the various methods of research and exposition that our authors employ to convey social and literary meaning, we will work on developing our own methods of research and analysis for effective critical writing. To this end, we will focus throughout the semester on asking precise and significant questions, on identifying useful print and online sources to help us refine and answer these questions, and on translating our research findings into strong scholarly arguments. The goal of the course is to encourage students to craft compelling questions and arguments that will grow into papers supported by student research.
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi : Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions; Austen, Jane: Northanger Abbey; Kempe, Margery: The Book of Margery Kempe; Woolf, Virginia: A Room of One's Own
A course reader that may include selections from: Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale,” Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love, and Ann Radcliff’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, among others
Films and television may include: Bridget Jones's Diary
This course will examine the complex relationships between gender and literary genre. What social and historical forces have, at various points in time, caused certain genres to be marginalized as “women’s writing” or “chick lit”? How have female authors negotiated the fact that literary activity is often implicitly, or even explicitly, gendered male? In order to get at these questions, we will consider several different historical moments and ask of each how gendered discourse relates to, informs, and perhaps even constitutes an essential component of literary authority. We will situate each literary work in relation to its own moment, but we will also ask how these works, medieval and modern alike, speak to each other. We will wonder, for instance, what the first-personal rhetorical strategies deployed in the late-medieval Book of Margery Kempe—the first autobiography written in English—have to do with the narratological innovations of Victorian women’s popular novels. We will ask how Virginia Woolf and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie each position themselves in relation to predominantly male literary traditions.
We will be thinking a lot about gender and genre, then, but our engagement with these literary works will be guided by an underlying goal, which is to focus on your writing. In order to refine the core skills of critical reading and analytical thinking—essential tools for writing insightful and persuasively argued papers—the course requires two essays and will culminate in a final research project and presentation. A peer-review process will provide added support as we approach the research paper as a cumulative series of distinct and individually manageable steps. By the end of the semester, you will have produced at least thirty-two pages of writing, including both drafts and revisions.