English 143N

Prose Nonfiction: Traveling, Thinking, Writing/ Travelers' Tales

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2016 Giscombe, Cecil S.
MW 1:30-3 301 Wheeler

Book List

Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness; Harris, Eddy: Mississippi Solo; Niemann, Linda G.: Boomer: Railroad Memoirs

Other Readings and Media

Plus excerpts from Basho's Back Roads to Far Towns (translated by Cid Corman) and Joanne Kyger's Strange Big Moon


Much of American literature has had to do with a sense of motion. Note the journeys, e.g., in the best known texts of Melville and Twain. But note also that Harlemite Langston Hughes’ autobiography, The Big Sea, begins on a boat and details his adventures in Europe and Africa; Canadian writer Gladys Hindmarch takes on Melville with her Watery Part of the World and Zora Neale Hurston travels to Haiti in Tell My Horse and through the American south in Mules and Men. 

The point of this course is multiple and full of inquiry.

familiar question, “Is this trip necessary?”, is joined to “What makes this trip important enough to 

Another field is the role of Americans and/ or Westerners as travelers in the world.  What things are we heir to?  What are our responsibilities and blindnesses?  What’s the relation between the imperial West and our current situation? The point in this—and any writing—is to write consciously and to be mindful of the political import of our writing. 

A third field is the defining of the relation between travel and place (and imagination). Place is “hot” 
right now, as a topic. What are the elements of the sentimental here and what assumptions?

Workshop.  Discussions.  Reading.  Writing assignments.  Field trips.  The writing vehicle will be, for the greatest part, the personal essay (with some forays outward into hybrid prose/ poetry forms).

Only continuing UC Berkeley students are eligible to apply for this course.  To be considered for admission, please electronically submit 5-10 double-spaced pages of your creative nonfiction (no poetry or academic writing) by clicking on the link below; fill out the application you'll find there and attach the writing sample as a Word document or .rtf file. The deadline for completing this application process is 4 P.M., THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29.

Also be sure to read the paragraph concerning creative writing courses on page 1 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for further information regarding enrollment in such courses. 


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