Announcement of Classes: Summer 2021


Reading and Composition: Choice Cuts: Writing About Food

English R1A

Section: 1
Session: D
Instructor: Stevenson, Max
Time: TWTh 9:30 - 12:00
Location:


Description

This course begins with Terry Eagleton’s assertion that “food looks like an object but is actually a relationship, and the same is true of literary works” and moves to consider that relationship in texts as varied as medieval French fabliaux and twentieth-century Japanese cinema. Authors we will study include Anthony Bourdain, M. F. K. Fisher, Monique Truong, Pu Song Ling, Petronius, and many others; the topics we’ll cover range from the ethics of vegetarianism to the politics of cannibalism, from the particular formal difficulty of representing taste in words to hunger’s connection with other carnal desires. In addition to the traditionally literary modes of prose fiction, poetry, and the personal essay, we will also read restaurant reviews, political manifestos, journalistic reportage, and cultural criticism, and will learn to read meals themselves.


Reading and Composition: Five Ways of Looking at a Poem

English R1A

Section: 2
Session: D
Instructor: Swensen, Dana
Time: TWTh 2:30 - 5
Location:


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.  Beginning in the 21st century with the work of poets as distinct as Claudia Rankine, Will Harris and Bhanu Kapil, we will move back and forth in time. From the 21st to the 16th century, we’ll end in the Early Modern period with the sonnets of 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: Caribbean Poetry In and Out of English

English R1B

Section: 1
Session: A
Instructor: Dunsker, Leo
Time: TWTh 10-12:30
Location:


Other Readings and Media

 

 

 

Description

 

What does "standard" English look like? How does it sound? In this course, we will be reading the work of a wide range of Caribbean poets. While some of the poetry we will read in this course is written in "standard" English, most of it is written in some kind of local or regional dialect; and while plenty of the work lives on the page, much of it will also consist of what is chiefly oral or spoken. We will consider the expressive possibilities of non-standard Englishes and oral poetics as we read the work of already-canonical poets (Claude McKay, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, and Lorna Goodison) alongside less traditional work often rooted in performance and sometimes even in song (Louise Bennett, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jean “Binta” Breeze, Bongo Jerry, and Mighty Sparrow).

 


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

English R1B

Section: 2
Session: A
Instructor: Ghosh, Srijani
Time: TWTh 12-2:30
Location:


Description

The trope of female instability seen in recent psychological thrillers, such as The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train, 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 and 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.


Reading and Composition: Art of the “Hot Take”: Voice, Critique, and Resistance

English R1B

Section: 3
Session: C
Instructor: Zeavin, Hannah
Time: TWTh 10-12
Location:


Other Readings and Media

 

 

 

Description

As social media has offered ordinary users a platform for their voice, the concept of the “hot take” in journalism has been increasingly applied to provocative perspectives on current affairs shared by members of the public. This course will consider the popular appropriation of the “hot take” as part of a longer tradition of cultural criticism, especially as a form of resistance. As students examine cultural and, especially, literary criticism by Theodor Adorno, Toni Morrison, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and others, they will engage with these critical perspectives, develop their own responses, and apply the principles of critique to their thinking, argumentation, and writing.  


Children's Literature

English 80K

Section: 1
Session: C
Instructor: Creasy, CFS
Time: TTh 9-12
Location:


Other Readings and Media

 

 

 
 

Description

 

This course has two principal aims: (1) to survey the history of children’s literature in English by focusing on some of the important works of that history; (2) to attend to some of the major generic, political, aesthetic, and philosophical questions that children’s literature poses. Among these questions, we will consider, for example: conceptions and ideologies of education; the nature and ethics of infantile sexuality; the mechanisms of language; the category of “innocence”; violence and violent desire; didactic and fantastical modes of address; the infant-animal relationship; embodied differences of gender, race, sexuality, and (dis)ability; and so on.
    We will take it as a basic premise that the “child” is a contingent and constructed object, always reinvented to suit the needs of its historical moment. From Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood to Harry Potter, from Peter Pan to the cat in the hat and his friends, the children described by children’s literature are always emblems of specific constructions of “childhood” that serve specific worldviews. We will not, then, make generalizations about what children are, what children like, or what children know, but rather trace different notions of childhood and of literature—and we will try to discover what those different notions can tell us about the social structures that give rise to, and depend upon, them. But while we will diagnose the uses to which “children’s literature” is put, we will also try to do justice to the ways in which it can be emancipatory or utopian: that is, we will seek to understand what it is in (the infantile attachments we feel towards) children’s literature that might also resist conscription into the normative mechanisms of maturity.


Shakespeare

English 117S

Section: 1
Session: A
Instructor: Marno, David
Time: TWTh 5-7:30
Location:


Description

This class focuses on a selection of works from Shakespeare’s entire career. We'll be reading a limited number of plays and some of the poetry. One of the main issues we'd like to focus on is the oscillation between regular and irregular. What is the rule, and what is the exception in Shakespeare's works? How is a comedy supposed to end? How does it end? What makes a tragic hero? Is Hamlet a tragic hero? What are the rules of theater? What are the rules of literature? Who creates them and why? When do they get transgressed, and why? Readings include As You Like It, Troilus and Cressida, King Lear, Cymbeline, and The Tempest, as well as some of the sonnets. 


The 20th-Century Novel

English 125D

Section: 1
Session: D
Instructor: Jones, Donna V.
Time: TWTh 12-2:30
Location:


Description

This course is a survey of the 20th-century novel. The novel is the quintessential form of expression of modernity and modern subjectivity. In this survey of key works of the century, we will explore the novel form as it is framed by these three thematics: history, modernism, and empire. Some questions we will address: How have the vicissitudes of modernity led to a re-direction of historical narration within the novel? How has modernist aesthetic experimentation re-shaped the very form of the novel? And, lastly, how has the phenomenon of imperialism, the asymmetrical relations of power between center and periphery, widened the scope and influence of fictive milieu? We will conclude at the cusp of the 21st century with a work of speculative fiction. 


Contemporary Literature: You Are Not an Individual: Contemporary Art and Collectivity

English 134

Section: 1
Session: C
Instructor: D'Silva, Eliot
Time: MW 2-5
Location:


Other Readings and Media

 

Readings will include work by Ed Atkins, Hannah Black, Sharon Hayes, Jenny Holzer, Fred Moten, Claudia Rankine, Cally Spooner and The Infinite Venom Girl Gang. 

 

Description

 

One of the key aspects of capitalist culture is its systematic regulation of the emergence of collectivity at any level: from socially active neighborhoods to national political campaigns. We are forced into thinking that we cannot engage in any collective action that isn’t ultimately less fun than sitting at home on our phones. But at the same time, capitalism has to make us fantastically creative and connective (in our workplaces and our online networks), relying on the activities of millions of people to generate profits, products, services and feelings. This course asks what kinds of meaningful collective and communal practice might be possible under these conditions. What is collectivity? Is it an experience, a mode of being, a form of sociability?  How might it inform aesthetic projects as well as political struggles? How do works of literature articulate, cultivate and crystallize relations of collectivity among their readers? To explore these questions, we’ll read a few important literary works from the past two decades, considering how these texts derive their potency from the capacity to enable experiences of collectivity and imagine new futures for public space.

 


Modes of Writing

English 141

Section: 1
Session: A
Instructor: Abrams, Melanie
Time: TWTh 2-4:30
Location:


Description

This course will introduce students to the study of creative writing—fiction and poetry. Students will learn to talk critically about these forms and begin to feel comfortable and confident writing within these genres. Students will write a variety of exercises and more formal pieces and partake in class workshops where their work will be edited and critiqued by other students in the class.


Special Topics: Writing at the University: A Writing Studio for Transfer Students

English 165

Section: 1
Session: D
Instructor: Atkinson, Nate
Time: TWTh 2-4:30
Location: Online


Other Readings and Media

 

 

 
 
 

Description

 

Having successfully completed their composition courses in community college, transfer students possess the writing skills necessary to academic success. Still, research shows that many transfer students arrive at the university lacking familiarity with the conventions of research and writing in their chosen major. 

This course is designed to help transfer students succeed in discipline-specific research and writing tasks at UC Berkeley. To achieve this goal, “Writing in the University" is broken into three parts, each with specific learning objectives. In part one, students read and discuss scholarship in writing studies and rhetoric to develop a framework for understanding conventions of writing. In part two, students identify exemplary writing and writers in their discipline, and research what it means to write successfully in their major. In part three, students analyze the generic conventions for writing in their discipline to produce an essay that identifies challenges and opportunities specific to their major and to their experience as transfer students.

 
 


Special Topics: Broadway Musicals

English 166

Section: 1
Session: C
Instructor: Drawdy, Miles
Time: MW 2-5
Location:


Description

A survey of the Broadway musical from George Gershwin to Lin-Manuel Miranda, this course will investigate the musical's claim to being the quintessential American art form. Organized around texts and institutions which are explicitly engaged with questions of American politics and history, this course will ask how a genre so notoriously infuriating and geographically isolated has come to have such an impressive cultural footprint. This course will inevitably move between theater history, literary studies, and performance studies in order to appreciate not only the development of the musical form but also the form’s often confused social, aesthetic, and political aspirations.


Special Topics: Law and Literature in the United States

English 166

Section: 2
Session: D
Instructor: de Stefano, Jason
Time: TWTh 4-6:30
Location:


Description

This course will introduce students to law and literature studies by exploring the legal and literary culture of the United States from the Declaration of Independence (1776) to Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010). We will focus on issues pertaining to the aesthetics and politics of representation, personhood, private property, and, above all, interpretation. Readings include texts by James Madison, Frederick Douglass, Margaret Fuller, Herman Melville, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, literary theorists Walter Benn Michaels and Barbara Johnson, philosophers Susan Sontag and Hannah Arendt, and others.


Special Topics: Queer Tourism

English 166

Section: 3
Session: D
Instructor: Eisenberg, Emma C.
Time: TWTh 12-2:30
Location:


Description

The word "tourist" has sometimes been applied to those who try on identities to which they do not belong or to which they do not fully commit. This course focuses on twentieth century novels that (1) register queer culture exists, which believe or not, sociologists "discovered" at this time, and (2) analyze the moral ambiguity of people who engage in queer scenes and behaviors selectively or temporarily. Readings might include novels by E.M. Forster, Elizabeth Bowen, Nella Larson, and James Baldwin, personal essays by Eve Babitz and John Waters, as well as secondary readings in midcentury deviance studies and more recent queer theory.


Special Topics: Four Nobelists: Czeslaw Milosz, Derek Walcott, Toni Morrison, and Seamus Heaney

English 166

Section: 4
Session: A
Instructor: Nathan, Jesse
Time: TWTh 1-3:30
Location: Online


Other Readings and Media

 

 

 
 

Description

 

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 grapple with what it means to make art in the aftermath of colonialism, slavery, sectarian violence, and world war. 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 2021, 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?

 
 


Special Topics in American Cultures: American Hustle: Immigration, Ethnicity, and the American Dream; Or, Capitalism Kills

English 166AC

Section: 1
Session: D
Instructor: Saha, Poulomi
Time: TWTh 4-6:30
Location:


Description

This course, which constitutes a survey of ethnic American literature, asks about the desires, imagination, and labor that go into the American dream. What is the relationship between immigration and dreams of upward mobility in America? This course will examine films, novels, and short stories in which the American dream comes apart at the seams to think about the fantasies of belonging and prosperity that fuel immigration and its effect on how we think about race, ethnicity, class, and citizenship.
 
This term, more than any other perhaps, we will approach the material of this course through the vantage of contemporary life in America. We will read the racial, economic, social, cultural and political life of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 elections, as we live through them together. We will keep to the fore of our consideration the calls for racial and economic justice, Black Lives Matter, immigration reform, and indigenous climate activism. Though this course offers a long historical durée of American race, ethnicity, and immigration, it is also a critical and ongoing engagement with this historical moment.

We will examine the ways in which people negotiate relationships to the state and to a sense of Americanness through fantasies of economic prosperity and increased possibility—how do some communities come to be figured as “model minorities” and others burdens on the state? In this class, we are going to do and to talk about work: getting work, making it work, working the system. We will study narratives of struggle, belonging, becoming, and coming undone across a variety of immigrant and ethnic American communities. There is no singular America that we will seek to depict in this class: its fractures, failures, and violences are of as much interest to us as its bounty, promise, and welcome. For this reason, we will engage a range of historical, sociological, and theoretical material to understand how ethnic and racial categories have been formed and produced in America. Students will develop a critical vocabulary for race, gender, and class in contemporary America and an understanding of their historical antecedents. This course will require you to demonstrate skill in researching, planning and writing papers, incorporating an analytical understanding of key concepts in the course, and the capacity to engage scholarly debates in the field of Ethnic American literature.


Literature and Psychology

English 172

Section: 1
Session: C
Instructor: Zeavin, Hannah
Time: TWTh 12-2
Location:


Description

In this course, we will survey literatures of the self and their history from antiquity to the present, in its many genres and forms: the diary, the autobiography, the poem, the novel, the memoir, the case study, the graphic novel, and digital self-presentation. Auto-writings negotiate a paradox: a subjective engagement with subjective fact that often aspires to a nearly scientific objectivity; sometimes they task themselves with the opposite: undoing or revising a scientific or political consensus. We will think about these literatures as means of self-preservation, self-knowing, self-tracking, diagnosis, an accounting for a self, as a site of counter-history, and as a tool for (re)enfranchisement.


Comedy: Stand-up and Sit-com

English 180C

Section: 1
Session: D
Instructor: Chiang, Cheng-Chai
Time: TWTh 9:30-12
Location:


Description

“I went into a room and saw one person standing up and one person sitting down.” Harold Pinter’s wry description of his playwriting process will serve as a guide in this course for exploring the various positions afforded by stand-up and sit-coms for narrating a life in the comic mode. We’ll engage with a range of contemporary comedy that mines the formal affordances of both genres—sometimes simultaneously—to defy biographical linearity and give expression to lives that fall out of conventional social scripts. Possible texts and comics we’ll examine include: Fleabag, Chewing Gum, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Sex Education, Please Like Me, Pushing Daisies, Fresh Off The Boat, Nanette, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Ali Wong, Hasan Minhaj, Margaret Cho.


Science Fiction

English 180Z

Section: 1
Session: C
Instructor: O'Brien, Geoffrey G.
Time: MW 9-12
Location:


Description

This course presents the genre of speculative fiction and its historical commitment to imagining plausible and implausible alternatives to the present. It will begin by looking at the Golden Age of the science fiction short story, the 1950s and 60s, and then proceed to treat some representative novels from the 1970s to the contemporary.