English R1B

Reading and Composition: L.A. Fictions

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Fall 2006 Becky Hsu
TTh 2-3:30 79 Dwinelle

Other Readings and Media

"Octavia E. Butler, Kindred

Raymond Chandler, The High Window

Lucia Corpi, Eulogy for a Brown Angel

Chester Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go

Cynthia Kadohata, In the Heart of the Valley of Love

Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust

Karen Tei Yamashita, Tropic of Orange

Recommended Texts:

Mike Davis, The Ecology of Fear

Diana Hacker, Rules for Writers (5th ed.)

Additional reading materials will be collected in a course reader that will be made available during the first week of class. We will also be referring to the website LEO: Literacy Education Online/The Write Place for writing and research guidance. Films may be shown, depending on the technological capabilities of our classroom. "


"The inspiration for this course came first from the sprawling geography of Los Angeles and the popularly accepted notion that L.A. has no center. Often viewed as a contemporary wasteland, the idea that L.A. has no center has also led people to consider the city as an evil prototype for the mass suburbanization of contemporary America. At the same time, L.A. has been further seen, perhaps contradictorily, as a center for racial strife. Fictional works and their various depictions of L.A. have been used as almost historical proof to establish these overriding and, at times, conflicting cultural perceptions of L.A.

Rather than accept these views of L.A. as givens, my hope is that the books we read will lead us to review our assumptions about, not just L.A. and the makeup of geographical spaces, but also our methods of interpreting fictional works. How might these works be shaping our imagination of the contemporary city? Or, to be more specific, how do certain genres (for example, the detective novel/noir fiction, science-fiction) rework our understanding of L.A.? In order to approach these questions, the books in this course have been chosen to give both a sense of the literary history of L.A. up until the contemporary period as well as its changing geographical scope.

Like English R1A, this course is structured to enhance your skills in critical analysis and argumentation through the mode of writing. Unlike English R1A, this course will be research-oriented. Thus, you will be exposed to research materials and methods while writing your papers, which will range from 4-6 pages in length to 8-10 pages in length. There will also be a number of drafts and revisions of your papers in order to help you understand that the process of writing is a process of rewriting. Ultimately, you should be prepared to write a minimum of 32 pages in addition to completing the required reading for this course."

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