Announcement of Classes: Fall 2011

The Announcement of Classes is available one week before Tele-Bears begins every semester. Creative Writing and (for fall) Honors Course applications are available at the same time in the racks outside of 322 Wheeler Hall.


Reading and Composition: Writing about Literary Experience

English R1A

Section: 1
Instructor: Jordan, Joseph P
Jordan, Joe
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Chekhov, A.:  The Essential Tales of Chekhov; Dickens, C.:  Great Expectations; Gibaldi, J.:  MLA Handbook;  Williams, J.:  Style: Toward Clarity . . .

Description

In this course we will read and write about markedly different kinds of literature—one novel, a good deal of verse, some short stories, maybe one play—with the aim of coming to some conclusions about what makes great literature great and why we should care about it.

I’ve chosen not to organize this class around a single theme, first, because the course is by definition a writing course and I don’t want to pretend otherwise. I also want us to resist the urge to compartmentalize experience. It is common for people to like different sorts of literature, but uncommon for students and teachers to think about what, for example, the experience of little poems and big novels have in common. In this class we will try to make connections between seemingly unlike things—not only between the works on the reading list, but between those works and examples of contemporary popular art forms like country music song lyrics, television sitcoms, movies (and so on). The class will push the notion that the history of English literature is in large part the history of popular English literature—a fact that justifies our giving serious consideration to some things that academic-types usually don’t take seriously.


Reading and Composition: Writing about Literary Experience

English R1A

Section: 4
Instructor: Jordan, Joseph P
Jordan, Joe
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Chekhov, A.:  The Essential Tales of Chekhov; Dickens, C.:  Great Expectations; Gibaldi, J.:  MLA Handbook;  Williams, J.:  Style: Toward Clarity . . .

Description

In this course we will read and write about markedly different kinds of literature—one novel, a good deal of verse, some short stories, maybe one play—with the aim of coming to some conclusions about what makes great literature great and why we should care about it.

I’ve chosen not to organize this class around a single theme, first, because the course is by definition a writing course and I don’t want to pretend otherwise. I also want us to resist the urge to compartmentalize experience. It is common for people to like different sorts of literature, but uncommon for students and teachers to think about what, for example, the experience of little poems and big novels have in common. In this class we will try to make connections between seemingly unlike things—not only between the works on the reading list, but between those works and examples of contemporary popular art forms like country music song lyrics, television sitcoms, movies (and so on). The class will push the notion that the history of English literature is in large part the history of popular English literature—a fact that justifies our giving serious consideration to some things that academic-types usually don’t take seriously.


Reading and Composition: Kitsch and "Bad Taste" in 20th Century America

English R1A

Section: 5
Instructor: Gaydos, Rebecca
Gaydos, Rebecca
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust; Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; Frank O’Hara, Meditations in a State of Emergency; Zadie Smith, On Beauty; John Waters, Polyester (film); a course reader including selections from Susan Sontag, Clement Greenberg, Immanuel Kant, and Pierre Bourdieu.

Description

Is there such a thing as a universal standard of good taste? When we judge a work of art, can our judgment hold true for everyone? Or does our cultural and social context determine our taste in art? In this class we will consider how what counts as good or bad taste has changed throughout the 20th century. More generally, we will think about different attempts by writers, visual artists, literary critics, and philosophers to define both the art object and its viewer. Some things we will look at include: the separation between “high” and “low” art, the emergence of camp and pop-art, as well as more recent reflections on the intersection of race and taste.
    
The primary goal of this course is to improve your academic writing skills. Students will produce 32 pages of writing (including drafts and revisions) over the course of the semester.


Reading and Composition: California Stories

English R1A

Section: 6
Instructor: Hausman, Blake M.
Hausman, Blake
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 106 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

•    John Rollin Ridge, The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta
•    John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
•    Allen Ginsberg, Howl
•    Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
•    Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
•    Additional essays, stories, and poems by California writers

Description

This course will examine literature produced in and about California.  After grounding our inquiries with Indigenous origin stories, we will then explore the convergences of narrative, geography, identity, and economics as portrayed by several California writers from the Gold Rush to the present.  This course will enable students to delve into a vast range of narrative styles, cultural conflicts and fusions, and degrees of sur/realism emblematic of California literature.  Our inquiries will offer students a framework for understanding the relationship of California literature to both the United States and the Pacific Rim at large, as well as on its own idiomatically Californian terms.

English R1A develops students’ practical fluency in constructing sentences, building paragraphs, and developing a thesis throughout the course of an essay.  Students will compose a range of essays that involve increasingly complex applications of these skills.  The emphasis of these assignments will be expository and argumentative writing.  The university requires students in English R1A to compose 32 pages of graded writing.  The first assignment is a short (1-2 page) “diagnostic” essay.  The following assignments will be three relatively short (3-5 page) essays on various topics that stem from our readings.  Students will also compose journals on the assigned texts.  At the end of the semester, students will submit a portfolio that includes two revised essays and a reflective introduction.   The portfolio, in particular the quality of one’s revisions, will determine the bulk of one’s final grade.


Reading and Composition: City and Country

English R1A

Section: 8
Instructor: Bauer, Mark
Bauer, Mark
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
A reader including poems by Horace, Hart Crane, Jean Toomer, Frank O’Hara, and essays by Wallace Stegner, Raymond Williams, and Jane Jacobs. 

Description

The opposition between city life and country life goes back at least as far as ancient Rome, but today it takes on a new significance as urbanites are asked to respond to a problem that is often felt more sharply in rural areas – global climate change.  Investigating the city/country divide will provide insight into the cultural significance and constructedness of each sphere, and also the degree to which they depend on each other, both for their identities and for mutual survival.  In addition to these primary spheres, we’ll also explore the less clearly defined spaces at their margins – suburbs, and, at the other extreme, wilderness – asking both what constitutes them and what they mean to us.  The course’s chief aim will be the cultivation of students’ writing skills, especially their argumentative and analytical abilities, which they will use to draft, edit, and revise several short papers over the course of the semester. 


Reading and Composition: California Stories

English R1A

Section: 9
Instructor: Hausman, Blake M.
Hausman, Blake
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 225 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

•    John Rollin Ridge, The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta
•    John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
•    Allen Ginsberg, Howl
•    Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
•    Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
•    Additional essays, stories, and poems by California writers

Description

This course will examine literature produced in and about California.  After grounding our inquiries with Indigenous origin stories, we will then explore the convergences of narrative, geography, identity, and economics as portrayed by several California writers from the Gold Rush to the present.  This course will enable students to delve into a vast range of narrative styles, cultural conflicts and fusions, and degrees of sur/realism emblematic of California literature.  Our inquiries will offer students a framework for understanding the relationship of California literature to both the United States and the Pacific Rim at large, as well as on its own idiomatically Californian terms.

English R1A develops students’ practical fluency in constructing sentences, building paragraphs, and developing a thesis throughout the course of an essay.  Students will compose a range of essays that involve increasingly complex applications of these skills.  The emphasis of these assignments will be expository and argumentative writing.  The university requires students in English R1A to compose 32 pages of graded writing.  The first assignment is a short (1-2 page) “diagnostic” essay.  The following assignments will be three relatively short (3-5 page) essays on various topics that stem from our readings.  Students will also compose journals on the assigned texts.  At the end of the semester, students will submit a portfolio that includes two revised essays and a reflective introduction.   The portfolio, in particular the quality of one’s revisions, will determine the bulk of one’s final grade.


Reading and Composition: On the Road from the Closed to the New Frontier

English R1A

Section: 19
Instructor: Yoon, Irene
Yoon, Irene
Time: TTh 3:30-5
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Potential reading list might include: Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Travels with Charley, along with other shorter prose works available in a Course Reader.

Description

The six decades between Frederick Jackson Turner’s 1893 declaration of the end of the American Frontier and John F. Kennedy’s inaugural commitment to a “New Frontier” of outer space mark a unique period of American mobility and exploration. Without a western frontier to conquer or space exploration fully conceivable, what indeed would a nation Turner characterizes by its continual demand for a wilder field of exercise do? If the dominant fact of American history is movement, where would one go? The development of an interstate highway system, the increasing popularity of automobile ownership, and the growth of a roadside culture over the first decades of the twentieth century suggest one answer: on the road.

In the decades leading up to the rhetoric of a “New Frontier,” many Americans, drawn by its growing accessibility and rapid development, embarked upon the largely recreational exploration of the old one. In this course, we will consider the aftermath of the so-called “first age of American history” through the cultural and historical development of road tripping in the first half of the twentieth century. How did these decades between the closed frontier and the new one change or inform our understanding of American movement and place? How does the experience of cross-country travel inform our understanding of national or regional identities? How did this period of frontierless movement transition into the Cold War space race of the latter half of the twentieth century? And what are its present-day legacies? (The advent of the fast-food chain, roadside billboard advertising, and many of this course’s primary texts are just a few that come to mind!)

But, of course, the central aim of this course is to develop and refine writing skills. We will concentrate on mechanics and style, learning how to read closely, gather evidence, organize claims, and formulate compelling arguments for persuasive essays. A brief diagnostic essay due the first week of class will be followed by regular weekly writing assignments (including reading responses, paper drafts and revisions), culminating in two shorter papers, and one medium-length essay by the end of the semester.


Reading and Composition: Modern African American Poetry, 1940-1960

English R1A

Section: 21
Instructor: Gardezi, Nilofar
Gardezi, Nilofar
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 109 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Gwendolyn Brooks, Blacks; Robert Hayden, Collected Poems, edited by Frederick Glaysher; Melvin Tolson, “Harlem Gallery” and Other Poems of Melvin B. Tolson, edited by Raymond Nelson; a course reader with additional poetry as well as historical selections; Ann Raimes, Keys for Writers

Description

In this course, we will examine the “lost years” of the 1940s-1960s in African American literature and culture by critically reading and writing about the poetry and history of this period. Traditional surveys of 20th-century African American poetry focus on two key literary and cultural movements: the New Negro or Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. While these movements were indeed important, I encourage us to investigate and see as equally important what was happening during the “gap years,” particularly the 1940s-1960s. This course will consider what is lost here as well as how and why it matters. 

During and after World War II, African Americans migrated in great numbers from the rural South to the urban North in search of better jobs and opportunities, becoming a new and burgeoning urban population. The recently arrived migrants imagined new black urban selves and created communities in neighborhoods like Chicago’s Bronzeville, Detroit’s Paradise Valley and New York’s Harlem. What were the stories of their lives in the transformed and transforming postwar cities of the North and how were they represented? African American poets Gwendolyn Brooks, Frank Marshall Davis, Robert Hayden, Langston Hughes, Melvin Tolson, Margaret Walker and others wrote about these figures and communities in their innovative postwar poetry. How did they necessarily experiment with the forms of their poetry in order to tell new black urban stories? The years of the 1940s-1960s were also crucial because they witnessed the birth of the Civil Rights Movement. How were the black poets of this period keenly engaging with and responding to the eddying spirit and rising discourse of civil rights and social change in their creative work? These starting questions and others that we discover together will motivate us as we work on critical reading and writing this term.

The primary goal of this class is to improve your writing. We will focus, then, on strengthening close-reading skills as well as the different parts of the writing process (e.g., constructing sentences, developing paragraphs, formulating claims, gathering evidence, honing theses, peer-editing and revising drafts) as you work on creating lucid arguments and persuasive essays from your critical examination of readings. Over the course of the semester, you will produce 32 pages of writing, which will be divided over a number of short essays and their revisions.


Reading and Composition

English R1A

Section: 24
Instructor: Speirs, Kenneth
Speirs, Kenneth
Time: TTh 9:30-11
Location: 300 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

T. B. A.

Description

T. B. A.


Reading and Composition: City Spaces

English R1B

Section: 3
Instructor: Knox, Marisa Palacios
Knox, Marisa
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 106 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South; Nella Larsen, Passing; Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers; and a course reader

Description

In this course, we will explore the representation of urban space in novels, poems, and nonfictional texts. The class examines the literary and historical depiction of actual cities such as Manchester, London, Chicago, and New York, and how the experience of cities is refracted through various lenses of gender, race, and class. In addition to the urban phenomena of industry, cosmopolitanism, and crime, we will also analyze the city as an imaginative space, or metaphor, and its inflections upon the characterization, plot, structure, and style of various texts.

The course aims to reinforce and develop students’ writing skills, building toward clear exposition and argumentation. In order to expand and integrate these arguments within a larger intellectual context, students will begin to learn and deploy methods of research through periodic assignments. The class will ultimately apply these practices in writing three papers of increasing length, two of which will require extensive drafting and revision processes.


Reading and Composition: Performing Revenge

English R1B

Section: 8
Instructor: Bahr, Stephanie M
Bahr, Stephanie
Time: TTh 2-3:30
Location: 225 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

The Oresteia; The Spanish Tragedy; Titus Andronicus; The Duchess of Malfi; MedeaArden of Faversham; The Crow; Sweeney Todd; Kill Bill; and The Crying of Lot 49

Description

Murder, mutilation, madness, imprisonment, adultery, cannibalism, torture and rape: this gruesome list forms not only revengers’ prime motives, but also the tools of their vengeance.  Is this only fitting or a perverse paradox?  What is the morality of vengeance-taking and what are the consequences for the individual and society?  Revenge narratives have long raised these troubling questions, yet their horror has continued to draw audiences to be terrified and titillated, entertained and, even at times, amused.  In this course, we will focus on three cultures particularly fascinated by the spectacle of revenge: ancient Greece, Renaissance England and contemporary Hollywood.  Over the course of a dark, bloody semester, we shall grapple with some of the difficult questions these texts raise and explore how we might relate the revenge-ethos of these disparate periods.  What is revenge’s relationship to the public and the private?  How might revenge as performance blur these boundaries?  Is the audience called upon to condone or condemn revenge?  We shall engage these revenge texts through both vigorous (but never vengeful) class discussion and keen argumentative writing.  You will workshop two essays, no doubt butchering and gutting them mercilessly on their way to polished final drafts.  Though this course may disturb and dismay you, hopefully it will inspire you as well.


Reading and Composition: Writing from Life

English R1B

Section: 9
Instructor: Weiner, Joshua J
Weiner, Joshua
Time: TTh 3:30-5
Location: 225 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Sterne, Tristram Shandy; Nietzsche, Ecce Homo; Fanon, Black Skins, White Masks; Burroughs, Cities of the Red Night.

Description

This course seeks to approach, in a loosely historical fashion, some of the problems associated with the literary recording of lives. During the first segment of the class, we will develop a broad perspective on the emergence of autobiography as a practice and genre from late-17th-century poems on the poet’s calling and spiritual autobiography, through a selection from Rousseau’s Confessions, to the Romantic crisis of this mode in Wordsworth’s Prelude, complemented by a brief theoretical reading by Foucault. For the middle portion of the class, we will move away from autobiography as a genre to consider the problems of narrating a life explored in the great experimental novel of the 18th century, Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. The final portion of the class, opening with Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo, will look at 20th-century texts concerned with how life-writing can operate as the narration of lives  in the plural, specifically collectivities formed around different modes of alienation. Our touchstones here will be selections from Fanon’s Black Skins, White Masks, and Burroughs’ Cities of the Red Night. We will also consider two films. Our writing assignments will seek to include a significant focus on interacting with secondary criticism and using theoretical materials in shaping your argument.