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

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.

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