English 190

Research Seminar: LA Stories


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Fall 2021 Saul, Scott
TTh 12:30 -2 183 Dwinelle

Book List

Boyle, T. Coraghessen: The Tortilla Curtain; Bukatman, Scott: Blade Runner; Isherwood, Christopher: A Single Man; West , Nathanael: Day of the Locust; Yamashita, Karen Tei: Tropic of Orange

Other Readings and Media

In addition to the novels listed above, we will be engaging with a wide range of films, music, and other writings. These may include the following:

Films

Double Indemnity (dir. Billy Wilder)

Rebel Without a Cause (dir. Nicholas Ray)

Chinatown (dir. Roman Polanski)

Zoot Suit (dir. Luis Valdez)

The Decline of Western Civilization, Part One (dir. Penelope Spheeris)

Blade Runner (dir. Ridley Scott)

Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (performed by Anna Deavere Smith, dir. Marc Levin)

Tangerine (dir. Sean Baker)

Music

Selection of early LA punk (Germs, Weirdos, X)

NWA, Straight Outta Compton

Kendrick Lamar, good kid, M.A.A.D. City

Other materials

Raymond Chandler, "Red Wind"

Joan Didion, "The White Album"

Umberto Eco, "The City of Robots" (on Disneyland)

Jaime Hernandez, The Death of Speedy (graphic novel)

Description

Los Angeles has been described, variously, as a "circus without a tent" (Carey McWilliams), "seventy-two suburbs in search of a city" (Dorothy Parker), "the capital of the Third World" (David Rieff), and "the only place for me that never rains in the sun" (Tupac Shakur). This class will investigate these and other ways that Los Angeles has been understood over the last century—as a city-in-a-garden, a dream factory, a noirish labyrinth, a homeowner's paradise, a zone of libidinal liberation, and a powderkeg of ethnic and racial violence, to name but a few. We will trace the rise of Los Angeles from its origins as a small city, built on a late-19th-century real estate boom sponsored by railroad companies, into the sprawling megacity that has often been taken as a prototype of postmodern urban development; and we will do so primarily by looking at the fiction, film, drama, and music that the city has produced.

This course is also a research seminar, so students will be led through the process of generating their own research question, locating sources, developing their analysis, and writing an original essay, of approximately 15-17 pages, that draws on both primary and secondary sources.

Please click here for more information about enrollment in English 190.


 

Please click here for more information about enrollment in English 190.

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