Announcement of Classes: Spring 2021


Reading and Composition: Four Nobelists - Great Writers of the Last One Hundred Years

English R1A

Section: 1
Instructor: Nathan, Jesse
Time: MWF 9-10
Location:


Book List

Heaney, Seamus: Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996; Milosz, Czeslaw: New and Collected Poems (1931-2001) ; Morrison, Toni: Beloved [ISBN: 0-452-26446-4]; Walcott, Derek: The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 [ISBN: 978-0374125615]

Description

One survived World War II in Poland. Another hailed from a small island in the eastern Caribbean, an outpost on the verge of breaking free of Europe's colonial grip. One was born to a people burdened and ravaged by centuries of enslavement. Another grew up in war-torn Ireland. They came, generally, from small towns and provinces, but their lives were both rural and urban, local and worldly, and they each went on to achieve great acclaim as poets and storytellers. Each was awarded the highest literary honor there is, the Nobel Prize. In this course, we'll explore the lives and works of Czeslaw Milosz, Derek Walcott, Toni Morrison, and Seamus Heaney, considering each writer's context, how they spoke to their times, and how they spoke against them. We'll consider, too, the question of greatness—What is a "great writer," and who gets to decide? Are there timeless literary qualities? How does "great work" in one time and place resonate—or not—in another? What, in 2020, can a concept of universality possibly mean? What makes a poem so sure, so sweet, or so powerful that it lodges in our lives, never leaving us?

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 a series of short papers and revise three of them. 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: (Un)Belonging Bodies and Citizenship

English R1A

Section: 2
Instructor: Cho, Jennifer
Time: MWF 10-11
Location:


Book List

Lee, Chang-rae: Native Speaker; Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye; Orange, Tommy: There, There

Other Readings and Media

 

Films: 

Rea Tajiri’s History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige; Spike Lee’s BlackKklansman

Other Readings: 

Texts to be included in a physical or digital course reader will possibly include: excerpts from This Bridge Called My Back (eds. Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga), Laila Lalami’s Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio’s The Undocumented Americans, Cathy Hong Park’s Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, and select works from Mary Rowlandson, Phyllis Wheatley, Walt Whitman, W.E. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston. 

 

Description

 

Our bodies – even if we might claim them as our own – are far from neutral, as they carry embedded signals, scripts, and even silences that reflect our unique social positions. This course explores narratives of embodiment, considering how bodies can create forms of social (il)literacy and reflect certain ideals of the nation. In particular, we will think about connecting the processes and consequences of “reading” bodies through normative paradigms of race, class, ethnicity, gender and/or sexuality to larger understandings of assimilation and belonging in the U.S. Students will compose regular reflective pieces on assigned readings and their own writing processes in addition to completing a series of connected, peer-reviewed essays that are geared towards the development of argumentative and analytical skills.

 


Reading and Composition: Allegory and Experience in American Literature.

English R1A

Section: 3
Instructor: Robinson, Jared
Time: MWF 11-12
Location:


Description

The century that spans 1820 to 1920 witnesses the formation of American literature as we know it. Just on the heels of the war of 1812, the America of this century takes its hard-fought independence and heads west to war with Mexico: revising its foundational ideals to admit its own colonialism, attempting to upend entire indigenous civilizations, and importing slave labor in its wake until the body count of its manifesting destiny soars into the millions. These among other “economic” pressures lead this fledgling nation finally into the self-annihilating massacre of the Civil War which, along with the failure of its subsequent reconstruction, results in some of the most horrifically quotidian spectacles of death this nation has ever known, before plunging it headlong again into a great war, World War I. This period of intense violence, migration, and societal reorganization was met and described at every point in equal measure by religious zealots and polyamorous socialists, “bad women” and “noble savages”, vindictive industrialists and their jealous slave drivers, transcendental idealists who wandered off into the woods where once lived the devil himself, and former slaves turned senators, to name just a few. It is the era of America’s hasty construction of its own myths and subsequent recasting of the present in its own image—a sprint from Renaissance to Modernism. Perhaps as a result of this, the literature of this century is in a tense and harried relation to the reality it describes, seeking as it does to participate in some meaningful way, either to promote reform or recalcitrance, and at every point to record the birth of the nation. In this class we will explore the literature of this period, beginning with Washington Irving’s Sketchbook and ending with Jean Toomer’s Cane, in an attempt to map two concomitant formulations: the American now and the American then. How does history become a myth? What does this mythology mean in the present? How can we hold a nation in our minds whose first principle is equal parts deception and dispersion? And ultimately, as these writers did, we will ask if language itself is a force that corrupts or redeems life.


Reading and Composition: Five Ways of Looking at a Poem

English R1A

Section: 4
Instructor: Swensen, Dana
Time: MWF 12-1
Location:


Book List

Bishop , Elizabeth : Poems ; Burt, Stephanie : Don't Read Poetry ; Chan, Mary Jean: Fleche ; Harris , Will: RENDANG ; Hayes, Terrance : American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin ; O'Hara , Frank: Lunch Poems ; Rosenwasser, David: Writing Analytically, 8th Edition ; Shakespeare, William : Sonnets of William Shakespeare; Whitman , Walt: Leaves of Grass--introduced by Harold Bloom

Description

In this course we will move through and across the history of poetry, focusing on poems and poetry through a set of open categories: Character, Identity, Form, Community and Sound. These open categories will be the lenses through which we interpret a broad swath of poetry in English. We'll also follow along with a few of these categories guided by the work of Stephanie Burt in her introductory text Don't Read Poetry.  Beginning in the 21st century with the work of poets as distinct as Terrance Hayes, Will Harris and Mary Jean Chan, we will move back and forth in time. From the 21st to the 16th century, we’ll end in the Renaissance period with the sonnets of William Shakespeare and Thomas Wyatt.  

This course will teach analytical writing, doing so through a broad variety of in-class and independent writing assignments. We will write three papers as we train our rhetorical skills and develop our ability to make complex arguments in discussion and on paper.


Reading and Composition: Sports, Politics, and Protest

English R1A

Section: 5
Instructor: McWilliams, Ryan
Time: MWF 1-2
Location:


Book List

Perec, Georges: W, or The Memory of Childhood; Rankine, Claudia: Citizen

Other Readings and Media

Because we will watch several 30 for 30 documentaries, you will be required to acquire subscription access to ESPN+; additional streaming purchases may be required.

Most readings will be available online as PDFs; authors are likely to include Sherman Alexie, Roland Barthes, Bill Bradley, Noam Chomsky, Don Delillo, Harry Edwards, Ralph Ellison, Joyce Carol Oates, Helen Ann Peterson, David Foster Wallace, and many more.

Description

Playing fields might be designed to separate winners from losers, but they have recently become sites where privilege and disenfranchisement collide in volatile ways. In response, some have argued that sports should be a field apart: an escape that transcends political divisions. Others have complained that sports cannot truly be more than “bread and circuses”: distractions from the truly pressing issues. We’ll consider each of these arguments, but focus primarily on the compositional, rhetorical, and performative strategies athletes and their fans use to bring attention to injustice.

To contextualize the increasingly visible relationship between sports, politics, and protest, we’ll look to both past and present, considering examples as far afield as Roman gladiators, Teddy Roosevelt and the cult of masculinity, the tactics and style of rezball, Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime show, and Lebron James’s remarks on Breonna Taylor. Most centrally, we will address the fraught relationship between race and sports in American culture. Other topics will include class and labor politics (including the question of NCAA amateurism), gender (in)equity, violence and nationalism, literary experimentation, and ability/disability.

Over the course of the semester, you will hone your skills in multiple written genres. You’ll learn to model your prose on works by sportswriters, literary luminaries, and literary critics (not to mention literary luminaries and critics moonlighting as sportswriters). In addition to refining analytic essays, you’ll conduct interviews and blog about an issue at the intersection of sports and protest that unfolds live over the course of the semester. By the end of the semester you will produce at least thirty-two pages of carefully edited work.

 


Reading and Composition: Borderline Crooks

English R1A

Section: 6
Instructor: Walter, David
Time: MWF 1-2
Location:


Book List

Erdrich, Louise: The Round House; Kushner, Rachel: The Mars Room; Slater, Dan: Wolf Boys; Sophocles (tr. Fagles): Oedipus Tyrannus

Other Readings and Media

Film:

Boys N the Hood, (dir./wr. John Singleton,1991); Sin Nombre (dir./wr. Cary Jôji Fukunaga, 2009); Cidade de Deus (dir. Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund/wr. Paulo Lins, Braulio Mántovani, 2002)

Selected Materials:

Aristotle, Robert McKee, Judith Weston, Anabel Hernández, Quentin Tarantino, Charles Bowden

Description

A plague-ridden Thebes, an Indian reservation, a Rio slum, a U.S.-Mexico border town, the LA hood, a California women's prison. These are the settings for our examination of characters who run up against obstacles—from within themselves, their families and tribes, the economic and legal systems they live in—that lead them to make criminal choices. These choices, and the risks they provoke, taint the characters even as they dare us to care for them.

How do fiction writers, dramatists, journalists and filmmakers get us to invest our feelings in morally compromised characters? To answer this question, we will pull out the guts of their stories to examine their wiring—then try to put them back together again on our own. In the process we will examine classic attempts to say what makes an effective tale, and put to the test the idea that every type of story has "rules" that make it successful. A major segment of the course will be devoted to examining the structure of the feature film in relation to drama and the novel.

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 one short essay of three pages followed by two larger ones of 16 pages total, all of which they will develop out of informal 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: Collectives

English R1A

Section: 7
Instructor: Bernes, Jasper
Time: MWF 2-3
Location:


Book List

Luiselli, Valeria: Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions; Williams, Joseph: Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace

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, which means that half our time will be spent examining the fundamentals of the thesis-driven essay, from sentence grammar and paragraph structure to close reading and interpretation.


Reading and Composition: Global Nineteenth-Century Literatures

English R1A

Section: 8
Instructor: Viragh, Atti
Time: MW 5-6:30
Location:


Description

This class examines how nineteenth-century novelists, poets, diarists and essayists try to "think globally" in a globalizing world. We will see how their individual stories and ideas participate in much larger narratives--narratives of imperial conquest, nationalism, revolution, slavery, exile, philosophical speculation, and scientific discovery. What boundaries do they find separating each other's languages, aesthetic forms, political priorities, religious beliefs, and intellectual paradigms? How far are these writers able to adjust their world visions to include what lies beyond them? These questions take us across the literary empires of Germany, France, Austro-Hungary, Persia, Ottoman Turkey, Japan, Russia, and into South America. Through such juxtapositions, we will see see how quickly one set of problems gives way to new ones, as territorial divisions become cultural ones, political ideas becomes aesthetic, distance becomes difference. We will also sound out certain deeper boundaries: how literary voices are silenced, and resist silencing, by hegemonic power structures; the limits of personal understanding in the face of nationalist prejudice, racism, social Darwinism, and imperialism; and the durability of all these mythologies and projections in the face of actual encounters with the other. Readings include works by Madame de Staël, Wilhelm Goethe, Ugo Foscolo, Lajos Kossuth, Najaf Kuli Mirza, Lady Mary Leonora Sheil, Mustafa Sami Effendi, Harriet Jacobs, Okakura Kakuzō, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Rubén Darío, Anton Chekhov, Rabindranath Tagore.

The goals of this class are to develop your abilities to read closely, critically and sensitively; to persuasively argue for unique and significant interpretations of your reading; and to develop a sense of the art and craft of writing. Assignments will include weekly discussion posts and papers to be revised and resubmitted throughout the semester. Two books are required for purchase: the ISBN numbers are  978-1843910022 (Ugo Foscolo, The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis) and 978-0-205-62591-8 (Volume E of the Longman Anthology of World Literature, 2nd edition). All other readings will be uploaded to bCourses. I encourage you to compare these with other translations or even read the original (if you have some familiarity with the language) to help us see what is being lost in translation. 


Reading and Composition: Girls, Misunderstood?: “Deviant” Women in Literature

English R1B

Section: 1
Instructor: Ghosh, Srijani
Time: MWF 9-10
Location:


Book List

Chopin, Kate: The Awakening; Kaysen, Susanna: Girl, Interrupted ; Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye

Other Readings and Media

 

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper"; Doris Lessing, "To Room Nineteen"

 

Description

 

Recent psychological thrillers such as The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train have made the figure of the unreliable female narrator-cum-protagonist very popular, and the plots of these stories are driven by the seeming mental instability of the narrator. This trope of female instability has a long literary history and has its roots in deeming women “mad” or “hysterical” when they deviate from the established sociocultural norms of a given time period or community. What drives women to madness? Is a woman mentally sound only when she exhibits “proper” feminine behavior? How does society punish a woman when it considers her an Other? This will be a reading- and writing-intensive course where we will examine short stories and novels, focusing on the way gender, class, and race contribute to the definition and treatment of mental illness.

We will focus on developing the writing, reading, research, and critical thinking skills that you will need throughout your college career. The class will build on the reading, analytical, and composition skills that you already have, and prepare you for writing longer and more complex papers, improve your research skills, and teach you to incorporate source material effectively.

 


Reading and Composition: How Words Do Things

English R1B

Section: 2
Instructor: Vinyard Boyle, Elizabeth
Time: MWF 10-11
Location:


Book List

Marías, Javier: A Heart So White; Melville, Herman: Moby-Dick; or, The Whale; More, Thomas: Utopia; White, T. H.: The Book of Beasts;

Recommended: Borges, Jorge Luis: The Book of Imaginary Beings

Description

When we speak of language, it is usually in terms of what it says, what it means, what it might imply or suggest.  What if we ask instead what words do: what can, or should words do, and what can we do with them?  What is a speech act, and is there a magical quality to words?  How does allegory work, and is this different from symbol and metaphor?  Is there such a thing as a pure image?  How do poetry and myth transform meaning, and in what way do stories conjure characters, or sustain plot?  Do works of literature exchange value, gather currency, or talk to each other? 

 

Our language is driven by such substitutions, and throughout the term we will also investigate how everyday practices operate by the same approximations and transferences – even as we transform our own writing through attention to these metaphorical conjurings and alchemical substitutions.  It will be the very seeming-ness of image, symbol, metaphor, and character that drive us to understand these concepts as they evolve across genres, modes, and literary eras.  In the process, we will explore renaissance allegory and medieval bestiaries, discover spell-making and christian miracles, examine symbols and myths as they make and un-make themselves, move through the echoes of poetry both ancient and modern, and delve into novels that take us to far-flung places as they plumb the depths of human experience.  Do words define our experience of the world, or have the power to generate new ones?  Along the way, we will consider the grammar of translated knowledge as we sharpen our critical eyes and become flexible in describing both language mechanics and the devices by which it makes and sustains meaning.  We will harness the potential of our own writing to uncover, respond to, and even generate these registers, developing a repertoire of attentive reading practices that will unfold and take shape through and as our writing, and which will culminate in a long paper designed to flex our descriptive power to do things with words.


Reading and Composition: War Writing: What Is It Good For?

English R1B

Section: 3
Instructor: Furcall, Dylan
Time: MWF 10-11
Location:


Book List

Aristophanes: Lysistrata; Orwell, George: Homage to Catalonia; Rankine, Claudia: Don't Let Me Be Lonely; Sontag, Susan: Regarding the Pain of Others

Other Readings and Media

Excerpts and shorter works by Isaac Babel, Thomas Hobbes, Julia Ward Howe, Langston Hughes, Yusef Komunyakaa, F.T. Marinetti, Gertrude Stein, Wilfred Owen, Herman Melville, Virginia Woolf, and W.B. Yeats. 

Description

It is commonplace to conceive of the war writer—whether journalist, memoirist, novelist, or poet—as a dispeller of fictions and purveyor of cold, hard truths about the "reality" of warfare. Yet writers themselves have often questioned the written word’s capability to represent that reality; those most skeptical have asked whether such representations ever amount to more than propaganda of one stripe or another.

In this course we will study the relationship, both storied and fraught, between war and writing in Western literature. As such, the historical and generic range of the course will be quite broad: we will read ancient Greek comedy and Vietnam War journalism, Civil War poetry and stories from the Russian Revolution; we will also engage with political oration, visual art, and film. Rather than studying the literature associated with any single war, or the phenomenon of war more generally, we will consider the relationship between writing and warfare primarily in writerly terms: how does one write about war, and to what end? What standard of truth can various kinds of war writing be said to satisfy? If not truth, what value does war writing afford? Of course, as our conception of war writing develops, so too will our picture of “war itself.”

As a composition class, the point of this course is not to “master” content; indeed, the range and complexity of the materials with which we will engage make mastery an impossibility! Instead, our objective will be to hone our analytic, argumentative, and research skills, and to practice those skills in academic writing. To that end, in addition to covering poetry, fiction, criticism, memoir, and film, we will spend a significant portion of class time practicing and reviewing rhetorical craft, logical argumentation, and research methods.


Reading and Composition: Against the Theatre

English R1B

Section: 4
Instructor: Ogunniyi, Kevin
Time: MWF 11-12
Location:


Book List

Barish, Jonas: The Antitheatrical Prejudice; Benjamin, Walter: Origin of the German Trauerspiel; Brecht, Bertolt: Brecht on Theatre; Freeman, Lisa: Antitheatricality and the Body Public; Puchner, Martin: Stage-Fright: Modernism, Anti-Theatricality, and Drama; Williams, Raymond: Modern Tragedy

Other Readings and Media

 

(Potential) shorter readings (via PDF or library access) from Sappho, Plato (Ion and The Republic), Boethius (Consolation of Philosophy), Langland (Piers Plowman), Michel de Montaigne (Essays), Thomas Beccon (Displaying of the Popish Mass), The Marprelate Tracts, William Prynne (Histriomastix), Henry Fielding (Shamela), Jonathan Swift, Jeremy Collier (Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage), Lawrence Langer (Holocaust Testimonies), and others.

Critical and theoretical readings from Jonas Barish (The Antitheatrical Prejudice), Martin Puchner (Stage Fright), Lisa Freeman (Antitheatricality and the Body Public), etc.

 
 

Description

 

What’s in a theatre? A stage, props, audiences, actors, devices— all sustained by a general acceptance that what happens on stage is not “real.” While the theatre’s composition has remained largely stable over time, the last few centuries have seen the emergence of a category called the “theatrical,” which both informs and derives from dramatic stagecraft. Not only plays but all human actions share in this quality. Alongside theatricality, a psychological resistance to the theatre and all that it represents has emerged—what Jonas Barish calls an innate “antitheatrical prejudice.” How has this so-called prejudice manifested? Does it drive toward the abolishment of all imposture, all theatre, all literature? Why have so many plays, alongside other “theatrical” works, seemingly sought to undermine the premises of the very illusion that sustains them? Can a work be antitheatrical without also being theatrical (and the reverse)? And is antitheatricalism really just a prejudice to be dismissed?


This class will survey the genealogy of “antitheatricality,” from antiquity to the twentieth century—considering both the historical trend of opposition to the theatre as an institution, largely on religious grounds, and the more general and pervasive suspicions of ‘inauthentic’ representational practices (e.g. dandyish dress, wearing make-up, writing garishly). Hostility to and suspicion of the theatre often arise at the margins of a given text—its paratext—and so might stand for the text’s internal tension or drive to contradict itself. Using the techniques of close reading and literary analysis, we will read plays that seem to reject different aspects of the stagecraft that sustains them, writings explicitly composed to attack the stage, and works that embrace and criticize different forms and practices of “inauthenticity.” Ultimately, we will consider whether the antitheatrical can be a positive (i.e. productive) aspect of a work of literature, or even of life.

As an R1B, this course is aimed to give students experience in reading and in writing substantial research papers informed by secondary sources. The theme reflects the purpose. While works of invective against the theatre tend to have different evidentiary standards from academic research papers, the 'antitheatricalist's' literary methods and techniques for producing rhetorical copia—e.g. the use of commonplaces, subtle “They say/I say” gestures, the mutual (and theatrical!) substantiations of the argument and the one arguing—overlap with the scholar’s and might well spur good critical writing.

 
 


Reading and Composition: Audio Texts: Reading and/as Listening Since 1930

English R1B

Section: 5
Instructor: Ullman, Alexander
Time: MWF 11-12
Location:


Description

“Every book is already an audiobook,” argue Matthew Rubery and Christopher Cannon in their “Introduction” to the 2020 PMLA forum on “Aurality and Literacy.” Their statement is meant to signify the double ontology of the codex: how textuality and orality—the shapes of the letters and the shapes of the vocal chords—are always connected in the acts of reading and writing. But to many ears, the statement could also double as a marketing slogan for the audiobook industry, which, led by companies like Audible.com, produces over five-thousand new recordings every month. What’s different when we listen to a text than when we read it silently? How are literary forms affected by the acoustic formats in which they are marketed and experienced?

This class takes up these questions by looking closely at the aesthetics and the politics of audio texts. We’ll cover a variety of different forms (drama, narrative, poetry), genres (sci-fi, fantasy, literary fiction, personal narrative), and formats (radio program, audiobook, podcast). But the core of the class will be exploring the history of radio drama across three different historical periods: American (1937-54); mid-century British (1954-1974) and the contemporary era (1970-now). What is specific to the history, theory, and medium of radio drama, and how did the genre leave its mark on the other forms of audio texts, both fiction and non-fiction? We’ll also look closely at what is called the “politics of narration”: if identity markers across race, class, gender, and ability shape the human voice, is some degree of stereotyping inevitable in these audio texts?

Students will write at least one research paper but will also have the opportunity to produce writing in other forms and formats, including: close readings and listening to selected radio dramas; interviews with a current audio writer, actor, or director; collaborative work to write, rehearse, record, and mix an original audio drama based on a classical piece.


Reading and Composition: What Is Literature?

English R1B

Section: 6
Instructor: Wang, Jacob
Time: MWF 12-1
Location:


Description

What is literature? According to the literary theorist Jonathan Culler, the answer is simple if a 5-year-old is asking: literature is stories, poems, and plays. But what if university students are asking? In this course, we’ll ask the question for ourselves and investigate the range and complexity of answers and issues that follow. For the concept of literature proves not as simple as it appears – if we dig a little deeper, we find that it arises from a history that touches on everything from the formation of nations to the development of capitalism to the invention and proliferation of new media, and more.

The primary aim of this course is to develop your skills as a writer and researcher – someone who engages with other people’s work and investigates the conditions of the world around them in order to shape their own thinking and writing. We’ll achieve this aim through a regular series of shorter writing assignments that will culminate in longer essays. And just as the category of literature potentially includes a broad range of writings, we’ll practice different modes of writing that are appropriate for different contexts, purposes, and disciplines.

Possible topics include: literature as language, literature as genre, literature as media, literature as social value, history of books, literary education and canons. In addition to the question of what is literature, we’ll also ask: what should we do with literature? What, ideally, should literature be? And why care about literature?


Reading and Composition: Self-Multiplicity and Bildung

English R1B

Section: 7
Instructor: Yniguez, Rudi
Time: MWF 12-1
Location:


Book List

Brontë, Charlotte: Jane Eyre; Burney, Frances: Evelina; Defoe, Daniel: Robinson Crusoe; Dickens, Charles: Great Expectations; Rushdie, Salman: Midnight's Children

Other Readings and Media

Other readings by R.D. Laing, Alex Woloch, Martin Marprelate, James Holstun, Judith Butler, Bruce Robbins

Description

How does a first-person narrator relate and relate to herself as a character amongst other characters? How is the narration of one’s individual growth dependent upon a synchronization with and outpacing of the environment that has produced oneself? What kinds of violence are imposed by the first-person narrator upon his surroundings to make them fit within a novel? What about violence he imposes upon himself?  In this class we will be accounting for what is lost and what is reproduced in the making of a hero and in writing about oneself.  Doing so will directly implicate the writing we do within the class into the political, psychological, and literary systems we will learn to identify, conceptualize, and respond to as we read the writings of others.


Reading and Composition: Down the Rabbit Hole

English R1B

Section: 8
Instructor: O'Brien, Garreth
Time: MWF 12-1
Location:


Book List

Carrington, Leonora: The Complete Stories; Carrington, Leonora: The Hearing Trumpet; Carroll, Lewis: Alice in Wonderland; Gaiman, Neil: Coraline

Other Readings and Media

We will watch a number of movies, likely including: Alice (1988); Alice in Wonderland (1933, 1951, and 2010); The Blood of a Poet (1930); Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974); The Matrix (1999); Orpheus (1950); Pan's Labyrinth (2006); Repulsion (1965); Spirited Away (2001); Tideland (2005); Us (2019); and The Wizard of Oz (1939). We will also consider illustrations by artists including John Tenniel and Salvador Dalí.

Description

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, have wormed their way into how we talk and think about fantasy. In this course, we'll read these works along with some of their many adaptations and reimaginings for the light they shed on the opportunities and dangers of escaping into imaginary worlds.

There will be a number of shorter written assignments and revisions of those assignments, culminating in a longer research paper.


Reading and Composition: Caribbean Poetry In and Out of English

English R1B

Section: 9
Instructor: Dunsker, Leo
Time: MWF 1-2
Location:


Book List

Brathwaite, Kamau: Black + Blues; Césaire, Aimé: Notebook of a Return to the Native Land; Philp, M. NourbeSe: Zong!; Walcott, Derek: Omeros

Other Readings and Media

Because much of the work we'll be reading is either out-of-print or will be read only in parts, there will be plenty of material provided in PDF form.

Description

In this course, we will be reading the work of a wide range of Caribbean poets. Most of the poetry will have been written in English, some of it translated from French or Spanish; some of it in "correct" English, but much of it written in local dialect. Some of these poets understand their work as primarily spoken or oral, in line with a sense of heritage that roots itself across an ocean; others insist that poetry, in the 20th century, should be understood as existing chiefly on the page, as most literature from Europe or the U.S. is. The possibility of an oral poetics and the value of non-standard Englishes will certainly concern us here, but so will the history of the region itself as it is negotiated through the poetry. Can a region where heterogeneity (of linguistic inheritance, or ethnic background) really be considered as one? Or is this in fact the very basis for understanding a region as itself something more than merely geographical? Theorizations of identity -- whether Caribbean theorizations of identity, or theories of Caribbean identity -- such as négritudeantillanité, and creolité, along with philosophical concepts like "tidalectics" or "the right to opacity" devised by the poets and thinkers represented here, will play an important part in our consideration of these and other questions.

In addition to the books listed above, we'll also be examining the more canonical poetry of Claude McKay, Nicolás Guillén, Louise Bennett, Martin Carter, Eric Roach, and others; the written and recorded work of dub poets like Mikey Smith, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Jean "Binta" Breeze; and the work across media of many other writers still living and working today, including Grace Nichols, Lorna Goodison, David Dabydeen, Dionne Brand, and Kei Miller.

This writing-intensive course is designed to improve students’ skills in both writing and thinking. Over the course of the semester, students will write and revise two papers, the first analytic and the second based on individual research. Accordingly, students will be instructed in how to locate and engage with primary and secondary sources as well as in how to properly employ them so as to advance their own original claims.

 


Reading and Composition: Robert Frost

English R1B

Section: 10
Instructor: Laser, Jessica
Time: MWF 1-2
Location:


Book List

Frost, Robert: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays (ed. Poirier and Richardson)

Description

"Improvement will not be a progression but a widening circulation.”

This course will study the works and thinking of Robert Frost, a poet of deceptive fame who, by seeming to need no introduction, needs an introduction at least a semester long. We will look at Frost’s poems in relation to each other, to his prose, to contemporary poetry, and in context of historical and political moments that helped define his legacy. A majority of the class will focus on a question about poetry’s uses as "representative" - of a people, a nation, a culture, an individual, a feeling, a butterfly, etc. Our primary interest will be in using the practices of reading, writing, thinking and discussing to discover the scope and stakes of any inquiry. The goal of the course will be to produce an experiential sense of the widening circulation Frost speaks of in the epigraph above, one that might be taken into whatever field of study you will pursue.

Work for this course will be directed primarily at accruing materials (research, writing and insights) surrounding a particular poem or set of poems such that a final research paper will tie together the disparate materials and methods of inquiry practiced across the semester and offer a reading of that poem (or set). Aside from the Frost book, all readings provided by instructor. 

 

 


Reading and Composition: LGBTQ and Chicanx Literature and Cultural Work

English R1B

Section: 11
Instructor: Trevino, Jason Benjamin
Time: MWF 1-2
Location:


Book List

Anzaldúa, Gloria: Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza ; Cuadros, Gil: City of God; Islas, Arturo: The Rain God

Other Readings and Media

(all available as either a course reader or online) Short pieces by Cherríe Moraga, Jose Estéban Muñoz, Heather Love, Tomás Almaguer, Antonio Viego, Leo Bersani, Mel Chen, Michael Hames-Garcia, Judith Butler, and David Halperin.

Description

In this course, we will explore literatures that explore LGBTQ and queer themes in Chicanx/Latinx cultural work.  In our approaches to the course material, we will consider the interrelationships between art and activism. How can not explicitly activist literature function as activism? What does canonical Chicana/o/x work emphasize and what does it invisibilize? And what are the costs?  These are some of the questions we ask as we read a set of multivalent texts that form a triangle that encompasses the Texas Río Grande Valley, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay area.

As we set ourselves to the task of travelling across time and space with these authors, we will encounter a number of obstacles. We will question the political thrust of the term “queer” and encounter its denaturing in generalized academic study.  We will also think about the term “queer” in relation to LGBTQ studies and the emergence of intersectional theory that asks us to consider the importance of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nation in relation to its usefulness as a moniker for political activism.

As we analyze the various methods of research and exposition that our authors employ to convey social and literary meaning, we will work on developing our own methods of research and analysis for effective critical thinking and writing. To this end, we will focus throughout the semester on asking precise and significant questions, on identifying useful print and online sources to help us refine and answer these questions, and on translating our research findings into strong scholarly arguments. Students will author one diagnostic essay at the beginning of term, a diagnostic midterm, and a series of short essays of increasing length (for example one 3-page essay, one 5-page essay, and one seven-page essay).  These assignments will allow students ample time to consider the writing process and grow as readers and writers at Berkeley and beyond.


Reading and Composition: The Novel as Cultural Form

English R1B

Section: 12
Instructor: Struhl, Abigail
Time: MWF 2-3
Location:


Book List

Bronte, Charlotte: Jane Eyre; Rhys, Jean: Wide Sargasso Sea

Description

In this class, we will read two classic novels: Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847) and Jean Rhys’s postcolonial response to it, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966). As we read, we will consider the relationship between literary form and culture. How do novels reflect, replicate, or challenge structures of power? Are ideologies around class, race, gender, and colonialism built into the form, or can novels also be sites of subversion? What kind of experiences can be represented in a novel? What other kinds of experiences are registered only to be displaced or repressed? We will consider influential accounts of the novel as a bourgeois, colonial, feminized form, as well as complexities that escape such totalizing accounts.

Although two examples are hardly a comprehensive basis to develop a robust theory of “the” novel, our texts will nevertheless afford us ample opportunities to practice the main objectives of this class: interpreting textual evidence, analyzing scholarly arguments, and using research to enter a critical conversation. The materials may be specific to the study of English literature, but the skills requisite to making an evidence-based argument will serve you well in classes and research projects throughout college.

This class will use the assessment method of “contract grading,” which means that if you complete a sequence of required assignments, you are guaranteed a B in the class (to get higher than a B, you can complete additional labor assignments). Please reflect on whether you would be comfortable with this method of assessment before registering for the class; and please do not buy any books until instructed, in case of adjustments prior to the start of the semester.


Reading and Composition: Re-Visioning the "Sixties"

English R1B

Section: 13
Instructor: Koerner, Michelle
Time: MW 5-6:30
Location:


Other Readings and Media

 

 

 
 

Description

 

This Reading and Composition course will focus on selected speeches, 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 readings and films 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-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 documents 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), post frequently to the discussion board, and complete a final research project.

 
 


Reading and Composition: Girls, Misunderstood?: “Deviant” Women in Literature

English R1B

Section: 14
Instructor: Ghosh, Srijani
Time: TTh 8-9:30
Location:


Book List

Chopin, Kate: The Awakening; Kaysen, Susanna: Girl, Interrupted; Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye

Other Readings and Media

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper"; Doris Lessing, "To Room Nineteen"

Description

Recent psychological thrillers such as The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train have made the figure of the unreliable female narrator-cum-protagonist very popular, and the plots of these stories are driven by the seeming mental instability of the narrator. This trope of female instability has a long literary history and has its roots in deeming women “mad” or “hysterical” when they deviate from the established sociocultural norms of a given time period or community. What drives women to madness? Is a woman mentally sound only when she exhibits “proper” feminine behavior? How does society punish a woman when it considers her an Other? This will be a reading- and writing-intensive course where we will examine short stories and novels, focusing on the way gender, class, and race contribute to the definition and treatment of mental illness.

We will focus on developing the writing, reading, research, and critical thinking skills that you will need throughout your college career. The class will build on the reading, analytical, and composition skills that you already have, and prepare you for writing longer and more complex papers, improve your research skills, and teach you to incorporate source material effectively.


Reading and Composition: Re-Visioning the "Sixties"

English R1B

Section: 15
Instructor: Koerner, Michelle
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location:


Other Readings and Media

Course readings/viewings available online/pdfs this coming semester.

Description

This Reading and Composition course will focus on selected speeches, 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 readings and films 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-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 documents 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), post frequently to the discussion board, and complete a final research project.


Reading and Composition: Haunted Nation: Studies of American Horror

English R1B

Section: 16
Instructor: Cho, Jennifer
Time: TTh 5-6:30
Location:


Book List

García, Cristina: Dreaming in Cuban; James, Henry: Turn of the Screw; Kingston, Maxine Hong: The Woman Warrior; Morrison, Toni: Beloved

Other Readings and Media

 

Supplementary readings will be provided in physical or digital course reader; Get OutThe Terror: Infamy

 
 
 

Description

 

Why do monsters, ghosts, and other supernatural embodiments continue to haunt us? What feeds our cultural desires and refusals to be “spooked” by otherworldly visitors who point to unfinished business and unresolved crises? This course examines the ways in which the horror genre – both in its conventional appearance and in its more fluid interpretations – remains an enduring form in the American literary and cultural imagination. In addition to turning to earlier iterations of “horror” (Mary Shelley, Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe, Henry James, H.P. Lovecraft) and more contemporary narratives of haunting (possible texts: BelovedThe Woman WarriorDreaming in Cuban, Get Out, and The Terror: Infamy), we will consider popular and critical theorizations of the monstrous and the spectral. In the process, we will explore how the haunted and those who haunt direct our attention to painful, subterranean histories, underlying social anxieties and/or the possibilities of reconciliation and new futures. Students’ own texts produced in the class will also be of primary study and import; regular written responses to readings, shorter essays, and writing-focused workshops will eventually prepare students to compose an argument-based research essay around a horror narrative of their choice.