English R1B

Reading and Composition: Walking America

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
17 Spring 2017 Gillis, Brian
TTh 5-6:30 233 Dwinelle

Book List

Anderson, Sherwood: Winesburg, Ohio; Baum, L. Frank: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Scarlet letter; Solnit, Rebecca: Wanderlust: A History of Walking; Stowe, Harriet Beecher: Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or Life Among the Lowly

Other Readings and Media

To be provided in class by the instructor:

Henry David Thoreau, Walking; Map: Berkeley PATH Wanderers Association, Berkeley and its Pathways; Movies: The Wiz (1978), Manhatta (1921); Short Stories: Kate Chopin, “A Morning Walk”; Ray Bradbury, “The Pedestrian”; Poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Walt Whitman


With beauty before me, may I walk  
With beauty behind me, may I walk  
With beauty above me, may I walk
With beauty below me, may I walk
With beauty all around me, may I walk
Wandering on the trail of beauty, may I walk

Navajo Night Chant

From Walt Whitman's walks through Manhattan to Leslie Marmon Silko's treks through the Tucson wilderness, American writers have long been preoccupied with the subject of walking and its political, aesthetic, and social meanings. This course will examine the theme of walking from a variety of interpretative frames, and from the perspectives of a wide array of American authors. Our goal will not just be to consider the history of walking in America, but more crucially to understand how that history has shaped American literature and culture and consequently the ways in which we each walk in the world. 

The main objective of this course is to equip you with the skills needed to read, write, and analyze literature coherently, and to fine-tune the techniques you use to produce persuasive research essays. The essential skills you learn and refine in this class can become the foundation of your future studies even if your major is outside the humanities, because we will focus on skills generalizable across all classes: reading, writing, researching, and critical thinking. You can expect that the essays and strategy assignments due for this course will build on each other to aid in your compositions and to help you reach new and exciting levels of analysis.

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