Announcement of Classes: Fall 2009

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.


Early Modern Bogeymen

English R1A

Section: 5
Instructor: Drosdick, Alan
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Kane, T., The Oxford Essential Guide to Critical Writing; Marlowe, C., The Jew of Malta; Massinger, P., A New Way to Pay Old Debts; Middleton, T. and William Rowley, The Changeling; Milton, J., Comus; Shakespeare, W., Richard III, The Tempest, Titus Andronicus

Description

Renaissance drama is rife with what can be called blocking figures—the doddering father who refuses to let his daughter marry her true love, the pesky servant who keeps an overly protective eye on our young hero. These characters are not quite enemies, but rivals, and need not be defeated, but merely overcome. They impede the progress of the plot and, once bypassed, prove entirely forgettable. Proper villains, on the other hand, actively propagate their ill will, usually with great bravado, and hold a stubbornly salient position in our comprehension of the play as a whole, perhaps greater even than the putative protagonist. This class seeks to examine how and why dramatists craft villainous characters so powerful that they can commandeer the plays that contain them.

In order to accomplish this sometimes daunting critical feat, students must develop their analytical instincts in order to articulate the intricacies of their observations in writing. To this end, students shall hone their observational skills by discussing, in the form of short weekly writing assignments, how the author goes about creating in them the reactions they register while reading his text. These short papers will prepare students to write longer essays (4-5 pages), in preparation for which we will hold thesis brainstorming sessions and peer editing workshops; students should expect to become very well acquainted with the writing of their peers.


The Power of I: Literary Constructions of the Self

English R1A

Section: 8
Instructor: Bednarska, Dominika
Bednarska, Dominika
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 123Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Mary Karr, The Liar’s Club; Jamaica Kincaid, My Brother; Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body; Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit; Eli Claire, Exile & Pride; Diane Hacker, Rules for Writers; a course reader

Description

What are the different ways that we come to understand first person narration? How are different selves created and chosen through texts and textual choices? How do issues of memory and claims to authenticity affect the way that we read different kinds of texts? This course will focus on how the self is constructed in literary non-fiction but will also incorporate fiction, poetry, and popular news media. We will examine how different choices made by the author construct specific understandings of both who the author or narrator is and the story being told. Through frequent writing assignments students will be asked to reflect on these issues in relation to the texts and their own lives.

This course is aimed at developing reading and writing skills in a variety of genres. Students will learn and practice strategies for all stages of the writing process, from prewriting to revision, and also work on grammar, syntax, and style. Course assignments will include a minimum of 32 pages of writing divided among a number of short essays, at least two of which will be revised.


American Elegy

English R1A

Section: 10
Instructor: Auclair, Tracy
Time: MW 4-5:30
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

A course reader of elegies; Max Cavitch, American Elegy: The Poetry of Mourning from the Puritans to Whitman; Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers; Jeffrey A. Hammond, The American Puritan Elegy: A Literary and Cultural Study; Mary Louise Kete, Sentimental Collaborations: Mourning and Middle-Class Identity in Nineteenth-Century America; Gary Laderman, The Sacred Remains: American Attitudes Toward Death, 1799-1883; Jahan Ramazani, Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney; Melissa F. Zeiger. Beyond Consolation: Death, Sexuality, and the Changing Shapes of Elegy

Description

In this class, we will study the American elegy, following its development from the 17th century to the present. Reading poems in conjunction with essays in literary criticism and cultural history, we will ask the following question: How did elegiac conventions both reflect and create the conceptual meaning and psychological experience of death and grief in America? Students will pursue this line of inquiry while learning how to write clearly, read critically, and argue persuasively. Emphasizing the development of these skills, this course will teach students how to evaluate authors’ theses, formulate their own positions, and express them in clear sentences, paragraphs, and essays. Over the course of the semester, students will produce approximately 32 pages of writing. This writing will be broken down into three essays which will increase in length as the term progresses.


Green Reading

English R1A

Section: 11
Instructor: Legere, Charles
Legere, Charles
Time: TTh 8-9:30
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Henry David Thoreau, Walden; Justin Kaplan, ed., Walt Whitman: Poetry and Prose; Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac; Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; The Birds of Western North America, Jon L. Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer; and, a course reader with excerpts from Thoreau’s Walden, David Owen’s “Green Manhattan,” John Steinbeck’s Sea of Cortez, Wendell Berry, William Cronon, Emily Dickinson, Robinson Jeffers, Juliana Spahr’s Gentle Now, Don’t Add to Heartache, and Wordsworth’s Prelude

Description

The aims of this course are ecological literacy and clear argumentative prose. On a field trip to the UC Botanical Garden, and as homework, you will begin by observing and naming birds, trees, and flowers. You will keep an environmental journal to practice articulating the qualities of these fauna and flora precisely. As exemplars, we will look at what other writers—Thoreau, Leopold, Steinbeck, Dillard—have written about their own environments, and we will go see the Berkeley Art Museum’s exhibition “Human/Nature: Artists Respond to a Changing Planet.” You will learn about the carbon cycle, trophic structures, disturbance regimes, ecosystem services, bioremediation, and the sublime. In the meantime, in a series of short papers, you will practice synthesizing your own observations into ecological hypotheses, and revising and perfecting these arguments in response to peer review and criticism. Ultimately, you will be encouraged to reflect on your own place in nature: at the end of the semester, you will present a final paper on “The Future of Nature” at an in-class conference. The focus of this course will be on writing sentences with ascribable agency and active predication. By the end of the term, you will also be able to tell a Red-Tailed Hawk from a Turkey Vulture from half a mile away.


Modern Selves and Others

English R1A

Section: 13
Instructor: Hausman, Blake M.
Hausman, Blake
Time: TTh 11-12:30
Location: 222 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis; Sherman Alexie, Ten Little Indians; George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”; and a course reader containing short stories by Jamaica Kincaid, Carolyn Forche, James Baldwin, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, Louise Erdrich, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and others

Description

Many storytellers have suggested that “our stories tell us who we are.” How, then, do our stories tell us who we are not? How do we create define, and identify ourselves and others? During the twentieth century in particular, creative writers grappled with how we create images of ourselves and others within the maelstrom of modern technology and consciousness. This course will examine a range of prose fiction that represents modern subjectivity, from the captivating surrealism of Kafka to the edgy realism of Baldwin and beyond. Our readings will push us to question what makes us human, how humans tend to imagine themselves through divisions and oppositions, and how language attempts to come to terms with our modern conditions.


America in the 1930s

English R1A

Section: 14
Instructor: Pugh, Megan
Pugh, Megan
Time: TTh 11-12:30
Location: 106 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Nathanael West, Day of the Locust; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; a course reader including work by James Agee, Mike Gold, Langston Hughes, Alan Lomax, Clifford Odets, Muriel Rukeyser, Carl Sandburg, William Saroyan, and others

Description

By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?
—Woody Guthrie

In the 1930s, as economic crisis brought new attention to the struggles of working men and women, Americans asked how their country had failed and how it could be fixed. What did—or perhaps, what should—America mean? The Great Depression was an era of stark deprivation, but also of committed idealism, as laborers, artists, and activists tried to reshape society. Americans embraced the promises of progress and change, but they also looked back toward folk cultures that they hoped would help unify the country.

This introduction to college writing and argument will be interdisciplinary in method. We’ll read a good deal of literature alongside proletarian manifestos, dance, photography, music, and film. Our course material will help us ask questions about the relations between “high” and “low” culture, between art, work, and politics, and between race, gender, and nation—themes you will explore in your papers. This is a writing-intensive course, so you will complete and revise four essays, and we’ll spend much of our time discussing how to improve your composition skills.


Work in Progress

English R1B

Section: 1
Instructor: Oyama, Misa
Oyama, Misa
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 225 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Paul Auster, Man in the Dark; Tony Kushner, Caroline, or Change; Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running; Stephen King, On Writing; a course reader of short stories and articles. Recommended: Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research.

Film list: Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner (2006), Show Business: The Road to Broadway (2007), Grey Gardens (1975), Grey Gardens: From East Hampton to Broadway (2007), One True Thing (1998), Chess in Concert (2009), Fruit Fly (2009)

Film list: Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner (2006), Show Business: The Road to Broadway (2007), Grey Gardens (1975), Grey Gardens: From East Hampton to Broadway (2007), One True Thing (1998), Chess in Concert (2009), Fruit Fly (2009)

Description

Although our ultimate goal as writers is to finish our work, we can learn a great deal from the process of working through an idea. As Haruki Murakami suggests about his running, sometimes the process of a work is even more meaningful than the end product. This course examines the pleasures and frustrations that people experience while perfecting their work, whether the result is a novel, a film, a musical, or (for those who consider their lives a work in progress) a fulfilled life. What challenges do people face when putting an idea into practice? What can we draw from their examples to apply to our own writing? Students will begin by writing a close reading of one of the texts (2-3 pages), then write and revise two essays (5 and 10 pages) which link close readings together to form a larger argument. The second essay will involve the student’s own research project about the development of a creative work. Through these assignments, students will sharpen two skills: looking closely at evidence and making a claim that matters to them.


Conspiracy Fiction

English R1B

Section: 2
Instructor: Seidel, Matthew
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 151 Barrows


Other Readings and Media

Graham Greene, The Ministry of Fear; Franz Kafka, The Trial; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; William Shakespeare, Richard III; a course reader

Description

In his essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Richard Hofstadter identifies the distinguishing feature of a conspiracy theory not in “the absence of verifiable facts,” but rather in the “curious leap in imagination…from the undeniable to the unbelievable.” This course is about how conspiracy fiction reverses this process, imaginatively leaping from the unbelievable to the undeniable.

We will be less concerned with determining the validity of the plentiful conspiracy theories in circulation than examining how they work narratively. What kinds of techniques do conspiracy fictions use, how does information get withheld and transmitted, and how do we describe the experience of reading them? We will begin with selections from Paradise Lost, making the acquaintance of Milton’s Archconspirator Lucifer. From there we’ll enter the realm of mortal scheming: Machiavellian plotting in Richard III, the extended juridical nightmare of Kafka’s The Trial, a World War II spy network in Graham Greene’s The Ministry of Fear, and a playfully ominous history of the postal system in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49. The texts come at conspiracy fiction from different angles – tragic, epic, allegorical, realistic, stylized, parodic – so following this particular thread will also provide a broad survey of literary form. Though conspiracy tends towards opacity, the aim of this course is to avoid it at all cost in your writing. Writing assignments will build up from a series of shorter exercises and culminate in a final research project.


Apocalyptic and Dystopian Literature

English R1B

Section: 5
Instructor: Goodwin, Peter
Goodwin, Peter
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 225 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Karel Capek, War With the Newts; Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale; Cormac McCarthy, The Road; Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen; Diana Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual; a course reader including poems, stories, biblical readings, and critical essays. We will also watch at least one film, Children of Men (dir. Alfonso Cuaron, 2006); and listen to the recording of Diamanda Galas’s 1991 performance of her Plague Mass.

Description

War, environmental disaster, moral decadence, pervasive governmental intrusion into private life—we’ve learned to live with it. But a rich history of dystopian and apocalyptic literature continues to play a crucial role in awakening us to the horrors of these regrettably familiar aspects of life in the twenty-first century. This course will provide a brief tour through this blasted literary landscape. Due to budget constraints, radiation suits will not be provided. The primary goal of this course is to teach you how to conduct and present research in a clear and compelling way. With this in mind, the readings are designed to guide students in their own research about the social functions of apocalyptic thinking. Your final project will be a literary research paper on a topic of your own design. We will devote a considerable amount of class time to learning about the basic tools and techniques for writing a college research paper.


Seeing Double

English R1B

Section: 6
Instructor: Knox, Marisa Palacios
Knox, Marisa
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 121 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White; Nella Larsen, Passing; Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest; Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers; and a course reader

Description

Although cases of mistaken identity often result in comedy, the figure of the “double” or “doppelgänger” tends to have more sinister associations. As a literary motif, the double can be an omen of doom, a deliberate exercise in role playing, or a psychological symptom of self-consciousness, dissociation, or repression. On the level of language, the double entendre is a mischievous figure of speech that nonetheless encapsulates the often ambiguous quality of words.

In this course, we will explore how novels, dramas, stories, and nonfictional texts explore the idea of “doubling” and its implications in characterization, plot, structure, and style. Even as students cultivate the ability to “see double” and interpret texts in various ways, they will also be developing their writing skills toward clear exposition and argumentation of their specific interpretations. In order to expand and integrate these arguments within a larger intellectual context, the class will learn and deploy methods of research through periodic assignments. Students will ultimately apply these practices in writing and revising three research papers of increasing length, ranging from four to ten pages.


Contemporary American Narrative

English R1B

Section: 14
Instructor: Gordon, Zachary
Gordon, Zachary
Time: TTh 12:30-2
Location: 225 Wheeler


Other Readings and Media

Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers 6 th edition; Norman Mailer, The Armies of the Night; Toni Morrison, Jazz; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (volumes I and II); a course reader with selections from Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Theresa Cha, Joan Didion, George Orwell, and Helena María Viramontes.

Description

This course will focus on strengthening your critical reading and writing skills through the study of contemporary American narrative. While the overarching thematic concerns of the course will be our texts’ self-conscious engagements with history, identity formation, and the limits of verbal and visual representation, we’ll also be exploring the formal features particular to each of these works and developing strategies for building claims around these features. How, for instance, does the ordering of events or their mediation by a narrator influence our reading of a text? How does a text work with or undercut our assumptions about how stories are constructed in order to achieve a particular effect? At what point does a historical narrative or autobiography become fictional?

Writing requirements: three longer essays, the last of which will incorporate independent research, and substantial revisions.