English R1B

Reading and Composition: The Poetry of California

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Spring 2022 Nathan, Jesse
MWF 11-12 204 Dwinelle


Poetry won’t give you the news, as William Carlos Williams said, and it won’t tell you how to avoid traffic in Los Angeles or where to find the best burritos in the Mission. But it can offer a profound glimpse into the spirit—or spirits—of a place. California, land of wondrous natural resources and state shaped by big visions and reckless desires, is no exception. To ask what kind of poetry is made in this state is to ask what kind of poetry California is. Artists of all sorts have long thrived in the Golden State. Why? What have they found here? How have they described it, defined it, or challenged its myths and failings? In this introductory course, we’ll read through the history and zeitgeist of California by way of its poetry, from the art’s roots here to its present-day possibilities, searching as we go for the California dream, for its meaning and its magic and its waking reality.

The broader purpose of this course is to develop your critical reading and writing skills, whatever your major might be. Over the semester, you’ll write and revise three papers of increasing length, which will include library research. We will explore how to research literary topics, how to use the library, and how to incorporate research in your essays. We’ll study the summary and synthesis of materials we read, the construction of logical and persuasive arguments, the conveying of attitudes and information. You’ll learn by practicing these skills, by thinking about and talking about your own efforts and those of your fellow students, and by analyzing the work of other writers.

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