English 165

Special Topics: Incarcerations: The Literatures of Physical Confinement and Spiritual Liberation

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2017 Padilla, Genaro M.
TTh 3:30-5 note new location: 370 Dwinelle Special Topics

Book List

Wall Tappings: Women's Prison Writings, 200 A.D. to the Present; Cisneros, Sandra: The House on Mango Street; Coates, Ta-Nehisi: Between the World and Me; Jackson, George: Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson; Perkins Gilman, Charlotte: The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories; Santiago Baca, Jimmy: A Place to Stand; Wakatsuki Houston, Jeanne: Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment


This is a course primarily on the literature of incarceration variously defined and experienced across a range of control systems that attempt to stunt the entire human being. We will read prison narrative/poetry (George Jackson's prison letters, Jimmy Santiago Baca's poetry composed while in prison), but we will also consider other forms of incarceration: Latinas incarcerated in the "domestic sphere" (as in Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper and Cisneros' House on Mango Street), or in detention centers (Wakatsuki's Farewell to Manzanar and the Angel Island poems carved into the walls by Chinese immigrants in the early 20th century). In addition to literary forms of expression, we will also survey some of the art and photography of incarceration. And we will also read some essays/chapters that theorize the control systems of incarceration: Gramsci, Foucault, et al.

I want to think about the forms of suppression, confinement and the humiliations of control imposed not only on the body but on the mind and heart. We want to concentrate on the ways in which human beings find the strength to survive conditions of subjection to voice their intellectual, emotional and spiritual presence.

I will certainly be asking students to recommend material you believe crucial to our work in the course.

Course assignments: You will write two papers of 6-8 pages and you will also work in discussion groups that will offer in-class presentations. There will be brief, unannounced quizzes on the material of the day. These cannot be made up since they will be composed in class.

This class is open to English majors only.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Fall, 2017
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165/1 Special Topics: Genres of Free Speech Lavery, Joseph
165/2 Special Topics: Art of Writing Hejinian, Lyn
Benjamin, Daniel
Spring, 2017
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165/1 Special Topics: The Graphic Memoir Wong, Hertha D. Sweet
Fall, 2016
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165/1 Special Topics: Telling Stories: The Power of Narrative in Academic Writing Donegan, Kathleen
Spring, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
165/1 Special Topics: Arthurian Medievalisms No instructor assigned yet.
165/2 Special Topics: 21st-Century U.S. Poetry O'Brien, Geoffrey G.
165/3 Special Topics: Oscar Wilde and the Nineteenth Century Lavery, Joseph
165/4 Special Topics: Representing Non-Human Life in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Britain Picciotto, Joanna M
165/5 Special Topics: Is It Useless to Revolt?: Literature of Revolt Goldsmith, Steven
165/6 Special Topics: Queer Lifestyles in Literature and Theory Weiner, Joshua J
165/7 Special Topics: Later 17th-Century Nonfictional Prose Starr, George A.
165/8 Special Topics: Arts of Writing: Academic Writing, Grant Writing, Food Writing Rahimtoola, Samia Shabnam
Schweik, Susan
165/9 Special Topics: Ovid and the English Renaissance Landreth, David
Fall, 2015
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
165/1 Special Topics: Contemporary Poetry Gaydos, Rebecca
T. B. A.
165/2 Special Topics Thomas-Bignami, Ian M.
T. B. A.
165/3 Special Topics Wong, Hertha D. Sweet
165/4 Special Topics: Longing and Belonging in Contemporary Writing Langan, Celeste
165/5 Special Topics: Hardly Strictly Lyric Poems Hanson, Kristin
165/6 Special Topics Lavery, Joseph
165/7 Special Topics: Modern California Books and Movies Starr, George A.
165/8 Special Topics: Modern Medievalism: A Study of Medieval Poetry and Modern Fantasy No instructor assigned yet.
Spring, 2015
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
165/1 Special Topics: American Modernism Goble, Mark
165/2 Special Topics: Fathers and Sons Isenberg, Steven
Isenberg, Steven

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