Announcement of Classes: Spring 2020


Reading and Composition: The Novel and Mass Culture

English R1A

Section: 1
Instructor: Kaletzky, Marianne
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 263 Dwinelle


Book List

Pynchon, Thomas: The Crying of Lot 49; Smith, Zadie: NW; Stoker, Bram: Dracula; Wright, Richard: Native Son

Other Readings and Media

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (excerpts)

Description

Contemporary discussions of novel-reading tend to characterize it as a refined, scholarly pursuit, more closely aligned with going to the symphony or visiting an art museum than with watching TV. Yet the novel’s place in the pantheon of high cultural forms has not always been so assured. Indeed, the European novel emerged in the seventeenth century as a form of entertainment accessible to the masses—written in vernacular languages rather than Latin and cheaply reproducible thanks to the recent invention of the printing press—and novels have been negotiating their relationship to mass culture ever since.

In this course, we’ll read a series of novels that depict populations in thrall to mass media, from the adventure stories that delight Don Quixote to the movies and magazines that pervade Native Son to the social media that structures daily experience in Zadie Smith’s NW. As we read, we’ll ask how these novels understand both the workings and the value of mass culture. When and why do these texts decry mass culture, and on what grounds do they celebrate it? Does mass culture appear as an emancipatory form that all are able to comprehend and enjoy? Or is it portrayed as a carefully engineered mechanism for reproducing oppressive hierarchies? As we consider how these novels represent mass media, we will also ask how they reflect on their own status as mass culture, high literature, both, or neither.

The goals of this course fall into two categories: reading and writing. The course will develop students’ abilities to read texts closely and carefully, to examine both points of coherence and moments of tension within them, and to analyze the relationship between meaning and textual form. The other major aim is to help students express increasingly complex ideas in writing. The various writing activities in the class, from the major analytical essays to shorter creative exercises, will connect critical thinking and writing, improve students’ control over their writing voice, and introduce new ways of thinking about structure and development.


Reading and Composition: American Satire (from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to Sorry to Bother You)

English R1A

Section: 2
Instructor: O'Brien, Garreth
Time: MWF 10-11
Location: 35 Evans


Book List

Beatty, Paul: The Sellout; Loos, Anita: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes; Powell, Dawn: Turn, Magic Wheel; Ross, Fran: Oreo; Schuyler, George: Black No More; West, Nathanael: Miss Lonelyhearts & The Day of the Locust

Other Readings and Media

We will watch a number of movies, most likely chosen from the following: Modern Times, The Great Dictator, The Great McGinty, Ace in the Hole, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, Dr. Strangelove, Nashville, Network, and Sorry to Bother You. (This list as well as the list of books is subject to change.)

Description

This course will focus on longform narrative satire (read: novels, movies, and possibly a play or two) produced in the U.S. from the 1920s to just about now. Northrop Frye has defined satire as "militant irony"; a study of this most militant of fictional modes will provide an opportunity to consider the relationship between writing, its time, and its future. What can a (short) history of grotesque visions of the U.S. tell us about the history of the U.S.? At the same time as we consider the contradictions of American society as seen through these works, we will consider the contradictions of a mode that, at its best, can be simultaneously hilarious and devastating. And as you hone your writing skills, we will ask: what gives writing its bite?

The goal of this class is to equip students with techniques for and practice in analytical and argumentative writing. Students will compose a variety of shortish assignments, including responses, reflections, textual/visual analyses, and argumentative essays. Students will revise their work over the course of the semester, which will culminate in a longer essay on a satire or satires of their choice.

(Please note the changes in the instructor and content of this section of English R1A [as of October 17].)


Reading and Composition: Exiles and Everyday Life

English R1A

Section: 3
Instructor: Khan, Mehak Faisal
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 35 Evans


Book List

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi: Americanah; Anand, Mulk Raj: Untouchable; Ferrante, Elena: My Brilliant Friend; Hanif, Mohammed: A Case of Exploding Mangoes; Kondo, Marie: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Other Readings and Media

Gone Home (Fulbright)

Other readings will be made available on bCourses.

Description

“Even intellectuals who are lifelong members of society can, in a manner of speaking, be divided into insiders and outsiders: those on the one hand who belong fully to the society as it is, who flourish in it without an overwhelming sense of dissonance or dissent, those who can be called yea-sayers; and on the other hand, the nay-sayers, the individuals at odds with their society and therefore outsiders and exiles so far as privileges, power, and honors are concerned.” 

- Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectual

How do we go about leading life? When are we most ourselves? This course explores different theories of living life, and the ways in which “normal” life might be stressed, strained, stretched or even broken under adverse conditions. We will consider the ways in which bodies live lives differently—what Edward Said might call “intellectual exiles—bodies that are non/human, gendered, raced, queered, dis/abled, casteized, de/colonized. This course will look to theorists, philosophers, and social collectives like Sara Ahmed, Michel De Certeau, Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Donna Haraway, Edward Said, and the Situationist International; games, films, novels and poems might include Gone Home (Fulbright), Mohammed Hanif’s A Case of Exploding Mangoes, Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, Queer Eye, and The Great British Bake-Off.

One of the goals of this course is to strengthen close reading and critical writing skills; to that end, there will be frequent short writing assignments, and in-class presentations on the critical texts we will be reading. One longer final paper will be required for this course. 

Texts are subject to change; please do not buy them until after the first week of class.


Reading and Composition: Reason and Superstition in the Nineteenth Century

English R1A

Section: 4
Instructor: Kaletzky, Marianne
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 31 Evans


Book List

Carpentier, Alejo: The Kingdom of This World; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein; Stevenson, Robert Louis: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Stoker, Bram: Dracula; Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Other Readings and Media

Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (excerpts); Arthur Conan Doyle, selected Sherlock Holmes stories; Christina Rossetti, "Goblin Market"; William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, selected poems

Description

Nineteenth-century Britain was the setting for a dazzling array of scientific discoveries and technological innovations, from the advent of electric lighting and photography to the formulation of new theories of evolution and disease to the extension of railways and telegraph lines across the nation and the globe. The same period saw an unprecedented interest in esoteric pursuits now often dismissed as superstition. Séances, fortune-telling, and attempts at telepathic communication not only captured the British public’s imagination, but also became the subject of study by leading intellectual authorities.

How could the same era that generated so many scientific breakthroughs also give rise to such fervent enthusiasm for occult beliefs? Do the two tendencies represent opposing social forces, or might they develop from a set of common circumstances? To answer these questions, we will read broadly in two of the period’s most popular literary genres—detective fiction and the Gothic novel—as well as consider selected readings in poetry and nonfiction. The course will close with a novel by twentieth-century Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, whose representation of the Haitian Revolution challenges us to reconsider how we distinguish between reason and superstition, as well as the values we assign to each.

The goals of this course fall into two categories: reading and writing. The course will develop students’ abilities to read texts closely and carefully, to examine both points of coherence and moments of tension within them, and to analyze the relationship between meaning and textual form. The other major aim is to help students express increasingly complex ideas in writing. The various writing activities in the class, from the major analytical essays to shorter creative exercises, will connect critical thinking and writing, improve students’ control over their writing voice, and introduce new ways of thinking about structure and development.


Reading and Composition: Victorian Vampires

English R1A

Section: 5
Instructor: Hobbs, Katherine
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 54 Barrows


Book List

Le Fanu, Sheridan: In a Glass Darkly; Stoker, Bram: Dracula

Other Readings and Media

Other readings will be made available in pdf form on bCourses.

Description

The figure of the vampire is constantly being reinvented, but it is always able to feed on our collective imagination. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Twilight to What We Do in the Shadows, vampires pursue us—and we can’t get enough. We often look back to Bram Stoker’s late Victorian novel Dracula (1897) as an origin point for our twentieth- and twenty-first-century vampires. But Dracula should also be seen as an endpoint, coming at the close of a century with its own vampire obsessions.

This class will follow the nineteenth century through its literary vampires, beginning with John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” (1819) and ending with Stoker’s fiction. In the process, we will consider how the figure of the vampire can be adapted to address a large range of issues, including sexuality, property ownership, race, and colonialism. The vampire myth is remarkably flexible in nineteenth-century culture, and we will encounter vampires in all sorts of forms: rakish aristocrats, withered crones, and seemingly innocent young women, among others. And these vampires inhabit literary forms as diverse as themselves. They are equally at home in the pages of lowbrow penny publications and more “respectable” upper- and middle-class publications, and they migrate across genres such as short stories, novels, and plays. As we track these pre-Dracula vampires, we will also think about how vampire literature during this period developed a set of recognizable tropes that we have inherited in our own time.

Primary readings for this course will include works by Bram Stoker, Sheridan LeFanu, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and others. We will also read relevant literary scholarship and other critical works addressing the vampire’s position in popular culture. Students will write, workshop, and revise a series of analytical writing assignments over the course of the semester.


Reading and Composition: (Un)Belonging Bodies and Citizenship

English R1A

Section: 6
Instructor: Cho, Jennifer
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 279 Dwinelle


Book List

Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye; Okada, John: No-No Boy; Vuong, Ocean: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Other Readings and Media

Film: Jordan Peele's Get Out

Course reader (working list): select poems by Walt Whitman, excerpts from Walden Pond, by Henry Thoreau, W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, Gloria Anzaldua's La Mestiza/The Borderlands, Claudia Rankine's Citizen

Description

Our bodies—even if we might claim them as our own—are far from neutral, as they carry embedded signals, texts, and even silences that reflect our multiple social positionings. This course explores narratives of embodiment, considering how bodies can reflect certain ideals of the nation, wherther through self-desire, discipline, or forced submission. In particular, we will untangle the normative paradigms of race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion that feed into the American imagination, while finding openings for resistance, alternate expressions of identity, and community.

In addition to exploring these questions, students will set out to accomplish a wide range of writing objectives with the intent of reaching different audiences. We will examine how and why we value effective writing, while practicing rhetorical appeals, close (re)reading of written and visual narratives, critical analysis of primary sources, and original argumentation supported by textual evidence. Writing assignments will include regular short responses to readings in addition to a series of formal writing assignments that invite peer review and revision. 

(Please note the changes in the instructor and the content of this section of English R1A [as of October 17].)


Reading and Composition: Love and Its Discontents in Shakespeare’s England

English R1A

Section: 7
Instructor: Rice, Sarah Sands
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 279 Dwinelle


Book List

Shakespeare, William: A Midsummer Night's Dream; Shakespeare, William: Romeo and Juliet; Shakespeare, William: Twelfth Night

Other Readings and Media

All other readings will be available on bCourses.

Description

Why are star-crossed lovers so romantic? How innocent is a love potion that makes a fairy queen fall madly in lust with a man who is part donkey? Just how heteronormative is a play in which the crossdressed heroine remains in masculine garb even when she gets her man? The answers await you in the works of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Renaissance portrayals of love—particularly those by Shakespeare— remain central to Western culture, but much of the complexity, darkness, and wonderful strangeness of those portrayals has faded to the background. In this course, we will delve into that complexity by reading, analyzing, and writing about Renaissance texts that focus on love and its discontents.

We will approach that topic through three guiding themes or units. In our first unit, “The Petrarchan Art of Love,” we will examine Shakespeare’s sonnets and Romeo and Juliet in relation to the Renaissance literary tradition of idealized love, particularly the poetry of Francis Petrarch. We will investigate how Romeo and Juliet builds on the sonnet tradition and how Shakespeare challenges that tradition in his sonnets to a beautiful young man and a sexually alluring Dark Lady. In the second unit, “Love and/or Lust,” we will work to untangle the fraught and sometimes dangerous relationship between love and lust in Renaissance England by venturing into the poetry of John Donne and the nighttime forests of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In our final unit, “Love and Gender,” we will investigate the role of gender flexibility, normativity, transgression, delight, and (dis)empowerment in the relationship between gender and romance in Twelfth Night and the sonnets of Lady Mary Wroth.

In addition to cultivating your critical thinking and literary analysis skills, this course will help to strengthen your academic writing. Becoming a better writer requires practice; as such, you will be required to write several essays of increasing length as the semester progresses.

Required texts (please get these specific editions):  WIlliam Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. Edited by René Weis. The Arden Shakespeare, Third Series. ISBN: 978-1903436912; William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night. Edited by Kier Elam. The Arden Shakespeare, Third Series. ISBN: 978-1903436998; William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Edited by Sukanta Chaudhury. The Arden Shakespeare, Third Series. ISBN: 978-1408133491


Reading and Composition: Identity as Performance

English R1A

Section: 8
Instructor: Ghosh, Srijani
Time: MW 5-6:30
Location: 262 Dwinelle


Book List

Akhtar, Ayad: Disgraced; Ibsen, Henrik: A Doll's House; Nottage, Lynn: Ruined; Reza, Yasmina: The God of Carnage

Description

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”

—As You Like It, Act II Sc. VII

We often hear people say that actions speak louder than words. We express our identities, who we are, through our actions, our performances, our lived experiences amidst the context and structures within which we operate. We connect with our immediate socio-political circumstances, and these relations, in turn, determine our performances of our identities. Personal identity is thus not a concrete unchangeable idea, but its performance is constantly in flux depending on the context. This will be a reading- and writing-intensive course where we will examine four plays focusing on the construction of identity through performance.

Together with our critical inquiry into modes of reading, we will practice our writing skills. We will devote plenty of time to critical thinking and essay-writing skills, paying particular attention to argumentation, analysis, and the fundamentals of writing at the college level.


Reading and Composition: (Un)Belonging Bodies and Citizenship

English R1A

Section: 9
Instructor: Cho, Jennifer
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 174 Barrows


Book List

Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye; Okada, John: No-No Boy; Vuong, Ocean: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Other Readings and Media

Film: Jordan Peele's Get Out

Course reader (working list): select poems by Walt Whitman, excerpts from Walden Pond, by Henry Thoreau, W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, Betty Friedan's The Femininine Mystique, Gloria Anzaldua's La Mestiza/The Borderlands, Claudia Rankine's Citizen

Description

Our bodies—even if we might claim them as our own—are far from neutral, as they carry embedded signals, texts, and even silences that reflect our multiple social positionings. This course explores narratives of embodiment, considering how bodies can reflect certain ideals of the nation, whether through self-desire, discipline, or forced submission. In particular, we will untangle the normative paradigms of race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion that feed into the American imagination, while finding openings for resistance, alternate expressons of identity, and community.

In addition to exploring these questions, students will set out to accomplish a wide range of writing objectives with the intent of reaching different audiences. We will examine how and why we value effective writing, while practicing rhetorical appeals, close (re)reading of written and visual narratives, critical analysis of primary sources, and original argumentation supported by textual evidence. Writing assignments will include regular short responses to readings in addition to a series of formal writing assignments that invite peer review and revision. 


Reading and Composition: Re-Visioning the "Sixties"

English R1B

Section: 1
Instructor: Koerner, Michelle
Time: MWF 9-10
Location: 233 Dwinelle


Book List

Bloom, Arthur: Takin' it to the Streets: A Sixties Reader

Description

This Reading and Composition course will focus on selected speeches, poetry, fiction, music, and visual art produced during the 1960s. In addition to providing a set of broad critical, aesthetic and historical issues to engage over the course of the semester, selected materials place considerable emphasis on the student movements of the decade, including the Student Non-Violent Coordinating-Committee, Students for a Democratic Society, the Third World Liberation Front, and the Free Speech and Anti-Vietnam War Movements.

Over the course of the semester, students will strengthen their capacities to make historically informed arguments, formulate compelling questions to guide their own research, and explore creative approaches to academic writing. Writing assignments emphasize critical engagement with historical and literary texts. In addition to several in-class writing exercises, students should expect to write two formal essays focused on rhetorical and literary analysis (3-5 pages), frequent response posts to discussion board, and complete a final research project.


Reading and Composition: Plain Girls

English R1B

Section: 2
Instructor: Eisenberg, Emma C.
Time: MWF 10-11
Location: 31 Evans


Book List

Brontë, Charlotte: Jane Eyre; Rooney, Sally: Conversations with Friends

Other Readings and Media

Course reader with theoretical and critical readings TBD

Description

"But I couldn't explain that to her. I certainly couldn't tell her what I found most endearing about him, which was that he was attracted to plain and emotionally cold women like me."

In Conversations with Friends (2017), Sally Rooney's protagonist, Frances, engages in many fraught conversations. Often, what is most important goes unsaid. In narration, we have access to her trauma, desire, fear—in short, to her intense embodiment—but when she speaks, Frances works hard to be as emotionally inexpressive as she is physically plain. In this class, we will pair Frances's story with the original plain girl novel: Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847). Like Frances, Jane is an adolescent woman grappling with desires that she doesn't believe the world will let her satisfy. Like Frances, Jane identifies her (alleged) plainness as the most obvious sign that other people find her disappointingYet both women are gripping, seductive narrators, as well as characters who turn out to have more power (sexual and otherwise) than they expect.

In this class, we will approach such deceptive plainness through secondary readings on both female desire and theories of communication. That is, we will investigate how Rooney and Brontë’s various female characters relate to sex and their own appearances, but we will seek answers in narration and dialogue that are far from plain. How does language enable and disable women from expressing their desire? What’s sexy about talking and what’s violent about certain intimate conversations? Is the plain girl an ideal narrator because, on the outside, she can choose to give nothing away?

These themes, methods, and questions will inform this course’s broader purpose: to develop analytical and argumentative skills introduced in R1A, while teaching students to identify and work effectively with pertinent secondary materials. Work will consist of a series of short assignments building up to a final research paper (with mandatory revision).


Reading and Composition: Narrative in Poetry, Poetry in Narrative

English R1B

Section: 3
Instructor: Nathan, Jesse
Time: MWF 10-11
Location: 233 Dwinelle


Book List

Bollas, Christopher: Meaning and Melancholia; Brooks, Gwendolyn: Maud Martha; Riley, Atsuro: Romey's Order; Scott, Peter Dale: Coming to Jakarta;

Recommended: Bishop, Elizabeth: The Complete Poems, 1927-1979

Other Readings and Media

Some additional readings will be distributed as PDFs or handouts.

Description

Poetry is among the oldest technologies humans have for preserving and distributing stories. While other media—film, prose fiction, gaming—seem to deliver many of our tales now, narrative in poetry persists and thrives in our time as a powerful element of the poetic imagination. But what is a narrative, and what does it matter if it's told in lines of poetry, as opposed to any other medium? How do poets use the singular possibilities of verse to set up, unfold, devastate, and define us with brilliant storytelling? What is the source and nature—and meaning—of the pleasure such poems may induce? In this course, we'll explore the roots of narrative poetry in English and discuss how old and new narrative approaches work in contemporary poems, studying the ways they use theme, plot, timing, history, evasion, exposition, argument, and description to generate power and make discoveries. And, we'll think about the ways in which the poetic imagination's capacity to help us tell our stories plays a possibly essential role in our species' functionality.

The broader purpose of this course is to develop your critical reading and writing skills, whatever your major might be. Over the semester, you'll write and revise three papers of increasing length. We'll study the summary and synthesis of materials we read, the construction of logical and persuasive arguments, the conveying of attitudes and information. You'll learn by practicing these skills, by thinking about and talking about your own efforts and those of your fellow students, and by analyzing the work of other writers.


Reading and Composition: Re-Visioning the "Sixties"

English R1B

Section: 4
Instructor: Koerner, Michelle
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 31 Evans


Book List

Bloom, Arthur: Takin' it to the Streets: A Sixties Reader

Description

This Reading and Composition course will focus on selected speeches, poetry, fiction, music, and visual art produced during the 1960s. In addition to providing a set of broad critical, aesthetic and historical issues to engage over the course of the semester, selected materials place considerable emphasis on the student movements of the decade, including the Student Non-Violent Coordinating-Committee, Students for a Democratic Society, the Third World Liberation Front, and the Free Speech and Anti-Vietnam War Movements.

Over the course of the semester, students will strengthen their capacities to make historically informed arguments, formulate compelling questions to guide their own research, and explore creative approaches to academic writing. Writing assignments emphasize critical engagement with historical and literary texts. In addition to several in-class writing exercises, students should expect to write two formal essays focused on rhetorical and literary analysis (3-5 pages), frequent response posts to discussion board, and complete a final research project.


Reading and Composition: From Islands to Images, Thinking-Objects in the Sea of History

English R1B

Section: 5
Instructor: Robinson, Jared
Time: MWF 11-12
Location: 279 Dwinelle


Book List

Bishop, Elizabeth: Geography III; Césaire, Aimé: Notebook of a Return to My Native Land; Hurston , Zora Neale: Their Eyes Were Watching God; James, C.L.R.: Black Jacobins; Melville, Herman: Benito Cereno; Morrison , Toni: Tar Baby; Shakespeare , William: The Tempest

Other Readings and Media

The philosophy and critical writing required for this course will be either made into a course reader or posted on bBcourses, depending on length and availability. 

Description

Beginning with Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and passing through other works of literature from Elizabeth Bishop’s Geography III and Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno to Aimé Césaire’s Notebook on a Return to My Native Land and C.L.R. James’s Black Jacobins, this course will ask its students to engage deeply with a single literary text by thinking it together with a piece of criticism or critical philosophy—here ranging from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Édouard Glissant, Walter Benjamin and W.E.B. Du Bois to Denis Diderot and Friedrich Nietzsche. It will attempt through this intense attention to teach the strange collage that is the research paper while attempting a thinking through of the question that seems to hold all of these works together: What makes a workable literary figure for the subject of history in the West, or, how has the West produced this subject through the technology of literature? This course organizes itself around a best guess: the Island, and witnesses how this figure transforms over the course of the strung-out Enlightenment’s gasping and collapsing its shipwrecked way into the presents of some of our authors, breaking over local phenomena like the American Civil War and the Haitian Revolution, and more global upheavals like the World Wars and Decolonization, until it is thinned and flattened into the Image. Charting a course from Islands to Images, we will try to discover how critical writing, slow reading, and research allow us to elaborate or resist the ravages of whatever time tosses our way next.


Reading and Composition: Narrative in Poetry, Poetry in Narrative

English R1B

Section: 6
Instructor: Nathan, Jesse
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 54 Barrows


Book List

Bollas, Christopher: Meaning and Melancholia; Brooks, Gwendolyn: Maud Martha; Riley, Atsuro: Romey's Order; Scott, Peter Dale: Coming to Jakarta;

Recommended: Bishop, Elizabeth: The Complete Poems, 1927-1979

Other Readings and Media

Some additional readings will be distributed as PDFs or handouts.

Description

Poetry is among the oldest technologies humans have for preserving and distributing stories. While other media—film, prose fiction, gaming—seem to deliver many of our tales now, narrative in poetry persists and thrives in our time as a powerful element of the poetic imagination. But what is a narrative, and what does it matter if it's told in lines of poetry, as opposed to any other medium? How do poets use the singular possibilities of verse to set up, unfold, devastate, and define us with brilliant storytelling? What is the source and nature—and meaning—of the pleasure such poems may induce? In this course, we'll explore the roots of narrative poetry in English and discuss how old and new narrative approaches work in contemporary poems, studying the ways they use theme, plot, timing, history, evasion, exposition, argument, and description to generate power and make discoveries. And, we'll think about the ways in which the poetic imagination's capacity to help us tell our stories plays a possibly essential role in our species' functionality.

The broader purpose of this course is to develop your critical reading and writing skills, whatever your major might be. Over the semester, you'll write and revise three papers of increasing length. We'll study the summary and synthesis of materials we read, the construction of logical and persuasive arguments, the conveying of attitudes and information. You'll learn by practicing these skills, by thinking about and talking about your own efforts and those of your fellow students, and by analyzing the work of other writers.


Reading and Composition: Reading and Writing the Digital

English R1B

Section: 7
Instructor: Zeavin, Hannah
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 279 Dwinelle


Description

In this course, we will survey the production, consumption, and study of literary texts in the digital age. Starting with a unit on writers’ relations to their writing technologies, we will explore the moral panics and forms of resistance prompted by digital literature from the 1960s through to the present. Across time, cultures, and technologies we will trace anxieties surrounding labor, freedom, control, information, attention, industry, and surveillance.

We will explore digital culture in social and networked practices of writing and reading, new theories of reading in the digital moment (distance reading, surface reading), popular moral and media panics (such as the notion that Microsoft Word is ruining writing), and debates within the digital humanities, media and literary studies. Moving from Internet 1.0 to Internet 2.0, we will engage many “born-digital” and online texts, such as Michael Joyce’s afternoon, William Gibson’s Aggripa, and Claudio Pinhanez’s “Open Diary,” as well as digital literary platforms and websites. In order to better understand these texts and technologies, and their social and historical contexts, we will also look at documentary films, critiques, and histories. We will conclude the semester by looking at digital writing and its reception now, including viral literature, the Instagram poetry of Rupi Kaur, and Warsan Shire’s poetry in Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

The semester will feature a reoccurring peer-to-peer writing workshop as well as individual meetings with the instructor to work on writing and research skills, including digital research. Across the whole of the semester, students will write and revise essays in three dominant Internet genres: the personal essay, “the hot take,” and the long form critique. 

All readings will be hosted on bCourses.


Reading and Composition: Literature, Media, and Technology

English R1B

Section: 8
Instructor: Wilson, Mary
Time: MWF 12-1
Location: 39 Evans


Book List

Forster, E.M.: The Machine Stops; Rankine, Claudia: Citizen; Rooney, Sally: Conversations with Friends

Other Readings and Media

Course reader and online texts

Description

The evolution of what is broadly termed “new media” is fraught with contradictions. Between the lingering utopianism of John Perry Barlow’s 1996 “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” and the present state of Twitter wars, 4Chan, and Facebook privacy violations, our conception of what the internet is and does has evolved with the rapidity of the news cycle. In this class we will consider how works of literature have responded to this evolution. We’ll consider texts that imagine, lament, celebrate, and reproduce mediated forms of life, and we will learn how to analyze “texts” that have abandoned print in favor of Twitter, html, and streaming video. Supplementary readings and media will include work by Jorge Louis Borges, Teju Cole, Jon Bois, Wendy Chun, Hasan Elahi, and others. 

The primary aim of this course is to develop students' critical thinking, writing, and research skills. To this end, students will complete weekly writing assignments and draft two research papers during the course of the semester.


Reading and Composition: Hollywood Babylon—The Art of the Episodic in TV and Lit

English R1B

Section: 9
Instructor: Walter, David
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 233 Dwinelle


Description

In this course we pull out the guts of stories to try and understand how storytellers craft works that grip us. In the process we examine classic attempts to say what makes good storytelling and put to the test the idea that any story has certain “rules” that make it successful. 

With an emphasis on understanding the structures that underpin the TV drama, we will study writers' drafts of The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, learning to interpret screenplay conventions on our way to understanding the complex move from script to screen. We will also read works of fiction, journalism, and memoir whose episodic structuring is suggestive of the arc of the TV season. Such works may include Perez-Reverte’s Queen of the South, Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Saviano’s Gomorrah, and Atwood’s Alias Grace.

In order to prepare students for the writing typically required in college-level courses and in civic discourse, this class teaches the composition of thesis-driven argumentative essays. Students will gain practice in composing brief to medium-length arguments that are focused, clearly organized, well supported and based on accurate critical reading of assigned materials. Students will turn in three formal essays, which they will develop out of written reflections and drafts, In addition, they will make class presentations, and collaborate on final group projects designed to creatively tie together the themes of the class.


Reading and Composition: Reading and Writing the Digital

English R1B

Section: 10
Instructor: Zeavin, Hannah
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 39 Evans


Description

In this course, we will survey the production, consumption, and study of literary texts in the digital age. Starting with a unit on writers' relations to their writing technologies, we will explore the moral panics and forms of resistance prompted by digital literature from the 1960s through to the present. Across time, cultures, and technologies we will trace anxieties surrounding labor, freedom, control, information, attention, industry, and surveillance.

We will explore digital culture in social and networked practices of writing and reading, new theories of reading in the digital moment (distance reading, surface reading), popular moral and media panics (such as the notion that Microsoft Word is ruining writing), and debates within the digital humanities, media and literary studies. Moving from Internet 1.0 to Internet 2.0, we will engage many "born-digital" and online texts, such as Michael Joyce's afternoon, William Gibson's Aggripa, and Claudio Pinhanez's "Open Diary," as well as digital literary platforms and websites. In order to better understand these texts and technologies, and their social and historical contexts, we will also look at documentary films, critiques, and histories. We will conclude the semester by looking at digital writing and its reception now, including viral literature, the instagram poetry of Rupi Kaur, and Warsan Shire's poetry in Beyoncé's Lemonade.

The semester will feaure a reoccurring peer-to-peer writing workshop as well as individual meetings with the instructor to work on writing and research skills, including digital research. Across the whole of the semester, students will write and revise essays in three dominant Internet genres: the personal essay, "the hot take," and the long form critique.

All readings will be hosted on bCourses.

(Please note the changes in the instructor and course content of this section of English R1B [as of October 21].)


Reading and Composition: Renaissance Revenge Tragedy

English R1B

Section: 11
Instructor: Drawdy, Miles
Time: MWF 1-2
Location: 31 Evans


Book List

Heywood, Thomas: A Woman Killed With Kindness; Maus, Katharine Eisaman: Four Revenge Tragedies; Shakespeare, William: Hamlet; Shakespeare, William: The Tempest

Other Readings and Media

Additional material will be made available on bCourses. 

Description

The War of the Roses (1455 - 85) inaugurated the Tudor dynasty as it dramatically demonstrated that internal violence posed an existential threat to the English nation. As the sixteenth century became increasingly marked by religious and political warfare, the English became increasingly fearful of revenge as a particularly insidious form of violence. Yet, as the Tudor dynasty approached its natural end, the genre of revenge tragedy became the characteristic offering of the English commercial theatre. This course will examine a number of revenge tragedies from this period as they reflect on a century of violence and look forward to a future of political uncertainty. Alongside these contextual considerations, we will investigate how the performance of revenge exposes weak points in the religious, political, and social structures of Renaissance England. We will also examine how these plays inherit and adapt an evolving set of recognizable conventions in order to meditate both on the formal features of tragedy and on the institution of theatre.

This course is intended to refine your critical thinking and writing skills. In pursuit of this end, students will be asked to write and revise one short analytical paper and a longer research paper.  


Reading and Composition: Hollywood Babylon—The Art of the Episodic in TV and Lit

English R1B

Section: 12
Instructor: Walter, David
Time: MWF 2-3
Location: 233 Dwinelle


Description

In this course we pull out the guts of stories to try and understand how storytellers craft works that grip us. In the process we examine classic attempts to say what makes good storytelling and put to the test the idea that any story has certain “rules” that make it successful. 

With an emphasis on understanding the structures that underpin the TV drama, we will study writers' drafts of The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, learning to interpret screenplay conventions on our way to understanding the complex move from script to screen. We will also read works of fiction, journalism, and memoir whose episodic structuring is suggestive of the arc of the TV season. Such works may include Perez-Reverte’s Queen of the South, Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Saviano’s Gomorrah, and Atwood’s Alias Grace.

In order to prepare students for the writing typically required in college-level courses and in civic discourse, this class teaches the composition of thesis-driven argumentative essays. Students will gain practice in composing brief to medium-length arguments that are focused, clearly organized, well supported and based on accurate critical reading of assigned materials. Students will turn in three formal essays, which they will develop out of written reflections and drafts. In addition, they will make class presentations, and collaborate on final group projects designed to creatively tie together the themes of the class.


Reading and Composition: Final Frontiers: America and Beyond

English R1B

Section: 13
Instructor: Ramm, Gerard
Time: MW 5-6:30
Location: 89 Dwinelle


Book List

Abel, Jordan: Un/inhabited; Le Guin, Ursula: The Left Hand of Darkness; McNickle, D'Arcy: The Surrounded; Ridge, John Rollin: The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta

Description

Who said it better—American newspaper magnate Horace Greeley ("go west, young man") or Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise ("space...the final frontier")? Both appeals are iconic, but which more effectively coaxes us to think of expansion as the satisfaction of an urge, the natural will to explore the unknown? It's no secret that science fiction draws on scenes of earthly frontiers to construct an imagined future within and beyond our solar system. This course will offer a series of comparisons between Sci-Fi and Amercian frontier fiction to explore the relationships of settlers and indigenous peoples in each, as we consider how the representation of the "west" and "space" converge and veer apart. We'll be reading Native American novels, short stories, and poems in alternation with some seminal works of science fiction (and yes, we'll watch some Star Trek). By putting these two literary traditions in conversation with critical texts, anthropological sites, and U.S. policy papers, we'll create fertile conditions for the formation of research questions.

This course will teach analytical writing through a range of different assignments. We will be engaging one another in critical conversations on literature, film, and media to distill our arguments from different works, themes, and issues. Through shorter writing reflections and a 10-page final research paper, students will hone their rhetorical skills and learn to express new insights on art, entertainment, and the material/conceptual constellations of exploration and expansion.


Reading and Composition: Early American Technology

English R1B

Section: 14
Instructor: de Stefano, Jason
Time: MW 5-6:30
Location: 134 Dwinelle


Book List

Equiano, Olaudah: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; Paine, Thomas: The Thomas Paine Reader

Other Readings and Media

All other readings will be provided in a course reader.

Description

The era of the American Revolution and Early Republic was also a time of rapid innovation in science and industry. It was arguably America’s first technology boom. This course explores the place of technology in early American culture, specifically its role in constructing individual and national identity in and for the new United States. The definition of technology that we know today originated in this period, a time when inventions in the “applied sciences” and “practical arts” were classed among the arts in general; the things one designed and made in turn defined one’s place in society and sense of self. We will build an interdisciplinary account of how these definitions helped Americans distinguish their new national culture (in terms of ingenuity and industriousness, for instance, and with ideas of providence and manifest destiny), emerging political philosophies (from the Federalists’ investments in manufacturing and trade to Agrarianism’s faith in farming), and some of their most prominent compatriots (such as the inventor Benjamin Franklin and the amateur naturalist Thomas Jefferson). How were the visual cultures and vocabularies of emerging technologies employed as metaphors for the revolution and construction of the nation? In what ways did Americans find in the materials of their trades a set of conceptual resources for imagining their role as citizens? We will investigate some of the problems posed by technology, specifically those arising from its unchecked growth and uneven distribution. How did advancements in agriculture and transportation materially aid and ideologically justify arguments for territorial expansion, indigenous displacement, and hemispheric control? What kinds of relation to technology were possible, or proscribed, for African Americans in a society of chattel slavery? Throughout, we will consider literature and print as technologies of communication that fostered the emergence of the American republic within a transatlantic republic of letters.

R1B is designed to engage students in extensive writing and scholarly research. To that end, we will use questions about the history of technology in early America to pursue our own inquiries through primary and secondary sources. Students will learn to make use of digital technologies that aid research in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: online manuscript archives from institutions like the Library Company of Philadelphia, founded by Franklin in 1763; and digitized newspapers and periodicals like the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, early America’s preeminent scientific journal. Class meetings will often involve looking at visual materials such as paintings, broadsheet etchings, scientific diagrams, and pictures of historical objects that will enrich our discussions of the texts and topics under consideration. Writing assignments in this course will allow students to experiment with different research methodologies. The goal is to create an open and engaged conversation about writing well and how to use research to help make our writing better.


Reading and Composition: Collectives

English R1B

Section: 15
Instructor: Bernes, Jasper
Time: TTh 8-9:30
Location: 233 Dwinelle


Book List

Ferris, Joshua: Then We Came to the End; McKay, Claude: Banjo

Other Readings and Media

There will also be a course reader.

Description

Literary writing often presents us with profound forms of individual, subjective life—the "I" of the lyric poet, the well-developed character of the realist novel. What opportunities are there, however, for the writer who wants instead to focus on the life of a group, a neighborhood, a workplace, an organization, or a collective? In pursuing answers to this question by way of an examination of American literature, we will pay special attention to the relationship between literary form and the forms into which humans organize themselves.

This is a writing-intensive course with a research component. Students will write two shorter essays and a longer research paper. A portion of our class time each week will be devoted to research skills: students will learn how to locate secondary materials, evaluate them, and, finally, incorporate them into their essays, following proper rules of citation and attribution.


Reading and Composition: Speculative (Non)Humans: Science Fiction and Its Lively (Im)Possibilities

English R1B

Section: 16
Instructor: Tomasula y Garcia, Alba
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location: 262 Dwinelle


Book List

Joy Fowler, Karen: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; LaValle, Victor: Destroyer; Okorafor, Nnedi: Lagoon; VanderMeer, Jeff: Annihilation; Wells, H.G. : The Island of Dr. Moreau

Other Readings and Media

All other readings will be posted to bCourses. 

Description

As the sometimes all-too-plastic forms that influence and are influenced by the social and technological systems around them, living beings—in their human, animal, plant, and other manifestations—remain a source of great fascination, celebration, and frustration for both administrations of power and for each other. This course will critically examine but a few of literature’s fleshy, speculative progeny—in pieces from Victorian novels to American comic books, and starring every being from suffering human-animal hybrids to marine biologists with alien-granted superpowers to signing chimpanzees—to not only provide a few prime examples of how the potentials of (non)human life have been utilized in literature, but to also analyze how science fiction concerned with life’s potentials has had an important hand in making clear—and even in influencing—what we find intriguing, alarming, and even possible within the living world. As we read, we will consider multiple aspects of how speculative life has been utilized in science fiction: what literary and rhetorical devices are used to represent the possible outcomes of mediation between the technological and the living; how the social/material constructions of class, race, and gender get embedded into the technology and therefore the flesh of science fiction’s protagonists, antagonists, and secondary characters; what sorts of social pressures may be at work when it comes to determining what may be imagined, or permitted, as possible for a living being. In addition to our main texts, we will also broaden our understandings of speculative (non)humans and the writings that influence them by reading materials from a range of disciplines, including material feminism, critical race studies, history of science, and biopolitics.

With the goal of developing your critical reading, research, and writing skills, we will primarily devote class time to discussing the course reading through a combination of lecture material, question and answer, and group discussion. Students will also be given writing assignments throughout the semester that will break down the process of writing a final research paper into a series of steps, including topic proposals, drafting, revision, and peer feedback.


Reading and Composition: Radical Berkeley

English R1B

Section: 17
Instructor: Sutton, Emily
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location: 233 Dwinelle


Book List

Cline, Emma: The Girls (ISBN: 0812988027); Dick, Philip K.: Dr. Bloodmoney (ISBN: 0547572522)

Other Readings and Media

All other material will be available on bCourses.

Description

This course will focus first and foremost on developing the skills necessary to research, plan, draft and revise writing at a college level. You will hone these skills through an exploration of the extraordinary history of Berkeley itself. Berkeley has long been a locus for the radical re-imagining of political and social life in America, and together we will chart Berkeley’s radical tradition from the 1960s onward. This class will be particularly focused on how we can put literary and non-literary texts into conversation with one another to create a nuanced and vibrant sense of place. Readings will include key texts from the New Left and liberation movements (including the Free Speech Movement, the Black Panther party, the Third World Liberation Front, the Disability Rights movement, and local queer and feminist groups), the science fiction of Philip K. Dick and Ursula Le Guin, poetry by Thom Gunn, zines from the East Bay punk scene, the creative journalism of Rebecca Solnit, and Emma Cline’s contemporary fictionalization of the Manson Family. We will consider how we grapple with our radical forebears and what it means to be in Berkeley now. Throughout the semester you will be introduced to some of the myriad, unique resources in our university and community that are available for your research both in this class and beyond.

The primary writing assignments for this course will be a shorter analytic essay that will build on your existing skills and a longer research essay that will focus on integrating secondary sources into your own writing. Both of these papers will be the developed through a series of shorter exercises and revisions. You will be encouraged to think carefully not only about your own writing and the texts on our syllabus, but also the work of your classmates.


Reading and Composition: Searching for Answers: Coming-of-Age Novels into the 21st Century

English R1B

Section: 18
Instructor: Baker-Gibbs, Ariel
Time: MW 9-10:30
Location: 305 Wheeler


Description

To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf (1927); Oreo, Fran Ross (1974); Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006); Long Division, Kiese Laymon (2013)

Short critical theory excerpts will be distributed by the instructor.

Who are you? What are you looking for? The coming-of-age novel, or the Bildungsroman, professes to be an explanation of how a character or a person comes to be, but really marks the constant search for ourselves, our vision, and more often than not, our art. We will be reading four novels from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that play with and break this form in several ways. We will be dealing with creative and dynamic presentations of subjectivity, gender, queerness, race, time, history, literature, form, and identity.

This is a writing-intensive course that teaches critical analysis and college-level writing skills. We will focus on close reading, argument structure, and effective expression, with the goal of producing appropriately contextualized arguments that engage with existing critical conversation. Students will be doing regular writing exercises, and expected to write, revise, and workshop together three papers of increasing length over the course of the semester.

(Please note the changes in the instructor and the course content of this section of English R1B [as of October 21].)