English R1A

Reading and Composition: Waking the Ghosts of Tom/ás Joad

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2016 Cruz, Frank Eugene
MWF 11-12 222 Wheeler

Book List

Boyle, T.C.: Tortilla Curtain; Dunne, John Gregory: Delano: The Story of the California Grape Strike; Rivera, Tomás: …y no se lo tragó la tierra / …And the Earth Did Not Devour Him; Steinbeck, John: The Grapes of Wrath: Text and Criticism, revised edition; Viramontes, Helena Maria: Under the Feet of Jesus;

Recommended: Graff, Gerald: They Say/I Say; Strunk, Jr., William: The Elements of Style

Other Readings and Media


Note: Will be available via YouTube, bCourses, and/or presented in class. DO NOT BUY THIS STUFF!

Films/Theater/Documentaries: The Grapes of Wrath; The Plough That Broke the Plains; Harvest of Shame; ¡Alambrista!; The Men Who Crashed The World; House/Divided; 99 Homes

Vernacular Music: Woody Guthrie, Dust Bowl Ballads; Bruce Springsteen, The Ghost of Tom Joad and The Seegar Sessions; Rage Against the Machine, Evil Empire and "The Ghost of Tom Joad"; Desaparecidos, Payola

Photography: Dorothea Lange and Matt Black


Available for purchase at Copy Central. Includes texts by Dorothea Lange, John Steinbeck, Roland Barthes, Carey McWilliams, James N. Gregory, Michael Denning, Charles Shindo, Zygmunt Bauman, Rick Wartzman, Americo Paredés, Ramón Saldívar, Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites, David Seed, Mae M. Ngai, Gloria Anzaldúa, Brooke Fredericksen, Cordelia Candelaria, Wendy Brown, Sigmund Freud, Jonathan Dyen, Stephen J. Pitti, Mike Davis, Michael Lewis.


Spiral bound index cards. 2 sets. Like this: http://amzn.com/B000FNHFYGert Hari and John Louis Lucaites



In this course we will think about what cultural historian Michael Denning has called the "lowercase grapes of wrath narrative," which emerged during the Great Depression. In John Steinbeck's 1939 novel, this was a story about economic collapse and environmental catastrophe. It was a story about home and homelessness: foreclosures, evictions, and forced migration. It told a story of poverty, suffering, and exploitation and at the same time, a story of hope, perseverance, and social change through activism.

In what ways did this story haunt the American cultural imagination in the second half of the twentieth century? In what ways might it still haunt us today in light of a number of uncanny returns: another crash on Wall Street, another "Great" economic crisis, a new season of environmental apocalypse, and another round of bankers with foreclosure notices in hand? If the twenty-first century reboot of hard times in the Golden State has shifted the setting from California's Central Valley to the postmodern nowhere of Silicon Valley, and if the desperate masses now queue up for hours not at soup kitchens but instead at Apple Stores, is the "grapes of wrath" narrative still relevant? Does the U.S. popular imagination look elsewhere, or to other narratives, to resolve our current crises, to think through what has happened, and to imagine what will happen next?

As we explore these questions, we will develop your practical fluency in college level, academic writing (constructing sentences and paragraphs, thesis development, etc). A short “diagnostic” essay is required at the beginning of the semester. In total, you will produce a minimum of 32 pages of writing, divided among a number of short essays. Full attendance and class participation is also required. 


Back to Semester List