CoursesCourses for the English Major

The Department of English offers a wide variety of courses at the general and advanced levels. Courses are divided into the following sections:

0-99 Lower Division Courses (Freshman, Sophomore)
100-199
Upper Division Courses (Junior, Senior)
200 & above
Graduate Courses

Spring 2021

Lower Division Courses in English (Freshman, Sophomore)

Please note that these courses do NOT fulfill any requirements for the major or minor in English.

Introduction to American Cultures

English 11 / Prof. McMillan

This course utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to examine U.S. culture writ large, specifically “America” itself, as an imagined and often-contested idea, a trenchant source of belonging and exclusion, and a fecund site of aesthetic and cultural production. We will explore the manifestation of these ideals across a variety of contemporary literary and media-based forms—including poetry, visual culture, film, performance, photography, music, and art. In doing so, we will examine how artists, writers, and musicians perform “America” and/or “the American dream” and their relationship to it. The class centers on seven keywords to delineate different ways to approach how America is imagined: performance, citizenship, Indian, racial icon, class, queer, and sound. We will study newer writing by poets Claudia Rankine and Tommy Pico alongside scholarship in performance studies, queer theory, American studies, and visual culture. In addition, we will analyze music videos, performance art, and filmic representation in efforts to analyze how identity, culture, and regionalism are staged. By situating the study of American culture in an interdisciplinary context, this course encourages students to think both rigorously and expansively about the varied meanings of citizenship, nationhood, borders, and belonging.

 

This course is a required preparation course for the American Literature and Culture major. Students in other majors may enroll for Foundations or Diversity credit.

Introduction to Creative Writing

English 20W

Designed to introduce fundamentals of creative writing and writing workshop experience. Emphasis on poetry, fiction, drama, or creative nonfiction depending on wishes of instructor(s) during any given term. Readings from assigned texts, weekly writing assignments (multiple drafts and revisions), and final portfolio required. Satisfies Writing II requirement.

 

Enrollment by instructor consent and NOT by enrollment pass time: Interested students should apply by 8 pm on February 28. Applications received after this date will be considered only if additional space should become available and may not receive a full review or response. Enrollment preference for English 20W will be given to first and second-year students. Approved applicants will receive a PTE directly from the instructor.

To apply, please prepare a brief (no more than 250 words) note explaining why you wish to take this course, and what previous experience you have with creative writing courses (if any—none required!).  Applications may be submitted through our approved web form, opening on February 8 and accessible here.

Please note that due to the volume of submissions, only students selected for the class will receive notification. Please do not email the instructors requesting status updates, as this will only delay the selection process. Questions should be directed to the English Undergraduate Advising Offices via MyUCLA MessageCenter.

Environmental Literature and Culture

English M30 / Prof. Heise

Introduction to core themes, questions, and methods within interdisciplinary field of environmental humanities. Examination of how different culture forms (e.g., fiction, journalism, poetry, visual art) represent environmental issues. Topics may include biodiversity, wilderness, food, urban ecologies, postcolonial ecologies, environmental justice, and climate change.

This course is a required preparatory course for the minor in Literature and the Environment.

Major American Authors

English 80 / Prof. Hyde

Not open for credit to English majors or students with credit for any courses in 170 series. How has fiction shaped the way authors and readers imagine what it means to be an American? What role did fiction play in shaping competing visions of America in the aftermath of the American Revolution, when the U.S. did not yet have a clearly defined cultural identity or literary tradition? And what new meanings does literature hold for us today? This survey will introduce students to several American literary traditions—gothic literature, the slave narrative, transcendentalism, romance, and realism—paying special attention to the way literature creates and reimagines the contested origins, identities, and meanings of “America.” We will read literature by Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Harriet Jacobs, Charles Chesnutt, and Henry James.

Castaways, Captives, and Converts

Topics in American Cultures
English 87 / Prof. Mazzaferro

This seminar explores three quintessential New World experiences: being shipwrecked in an unfamiliar environment, becoming the captive of a foreign culture, and converting to a new religion. These experiences are frequently linked in early American literature: castaways are taken captive; captives are forcibly relocated; and the victims of these traumas use new spiritual frameworks to make sense of them. We’ll examine both the castaway episodes and Native American captivities endured by European settlers and the dislocation and enslavement they inflicted on indigenous and African people. And we’ll compare Europeans’ conversion experiences with those of non-Europeans, for whom Christianity could seem either to sanction an oppressive status quo or to offer new sources of dignity and power. Reimagining colonial America as a space of spectacular suffering and personal transformation, we’ll consider Christianity’s paradoxical take on liberty and slavery; the connections between castawayism and colonialism; and the role of faith, race, and gender in narrating tragedy.

 

This course is a required preparation course for the American Literature and Culture major. Students in other majors may enroll during second passl, space permitting, for Foundations or Diversity credit.

Introduction to Fiction

English 91C / Prof. North

Introduction to prose narrative, its techniques and forms. Analysis of short and long narratives and of critical issues such as plot, characterization, setting, narrative voice, realistic and nonrealistic forms.

Upper Division Courses in English

Practicum Courses

Please note that these are 2-unit courses. English majors may satisfy 1 English Elective if they take multiple 2-unit upper division English courses (courses must add up to a total of at least 4 units and must be taken for a letter grade). 

Westwind Journal

Undergraduate Practicum in English
English M192.1 / Prof. Wilson

This course is for the staff of Westwind, UCLA’s Journal for the Arts. If you are interested in joining the Westwind staff, please familiarize yourself with the journal at www.westwind.ucla.edu, and come to the first Fall meeting on Tuesday, January 5, 2021!

UCLAPoem

Undergraduate Practicum in English
English M192.2 / Prof. Wilson

This course is for students in UCLAPoem, which creates and sponsors poetry readings, events, and activities throughout the year, as well as plans and directs an annual UCLAPoetry Festival every spring quarter. If you’re interested in poetry (or just curious about it), come to the first Fall meeting on Thursday, January 7, 2021!

Elective Courses

English major Electives may be selected from 5-unit upper-division English courses numbered 100 to M191E. Please note that the courses listed as “Elective-Only” may not be applied to Historical, Breadth, or Seminar requirements.

Public Readers, Public Writers: Writing about Books for a 21st-Century Audience

English 110C / Prof. Stephan

Students will learn the art and craft of the book review with a focus on the what, why, and how of literary criticism for a general (rather than for a specifically academic) 21st-century audience, looking at reviews of literary texts from the 18th century to the present, including a case study of a 20th-century novel (Nella Larsen’s Passing) and its contemporary critical reception. We’ll examine the recent developments in literary and cultural criticism that have led to the emergence of internet publications dedicated to those forms, including sites like Public Books and the Los Angeles Review of Books, as well as the ways in which national and global periodicals have successfully adapted their book review sections to reach a wider internet-based audience. Finally, we’ll look at the ways in which contemporary book reviews encompass other forms of culture, especially visual and digital culture. Students will compile a portfolio of criticism and other writing, as well as a critical analysis of the role of cultural criticism in historical and current contexts.

 

This course is eligible for credit on the Professional Writing Minor.

 

Literatures in English Before 1500

**Sophomores and Juniors: Please note that for Spring 2021, all pre-1500 courses will be restricted to SENIOR English majors on first pass. Enrollment will open up to other class standings on second pass.

Chaucer: Canterbury Tales

English 140A / Prof. Fisher

A rattle bag of highbrow, middlebrow, and lowbrow entertainments and edifications, the Canterbury Tales resist easy categorization. This quarter, we’ll engage Chaucer’s obsessive attention to how language functions and fails to function, how speech can instruct or mislead, educate or confuse, and how it can become more or less meaningful through repetition. Among other types of speech in the Canterbury Tales, we’ll encounter gossip, prophecy, prayer, reported speech, promises, and oaths, and we’ll analyze their workings as they construct gender, race, and faith over a number of the individual tales.

 

There will be a Middle English quiz, a creative translation project and accompanying short 2-page essay, and two papers: a 4-5 page paper and a final 10-12 page paper. Class participation is expected.

 

This class will be reserved for senior English majors on first pass, and will open up to non-seniors on second pass.

Rebels, Heretics, Plague: The Odd Gaps of Late Medieval Literature

Later Medieval Literature
English 142 / Prof. Fisher

Late medieval England was a time of massive death to the repeated ravages of the Black Plague, of rebellion, revolution, and (a small number of) heretics burned at the stake. Reading the springtime world of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, however, one would be hard pressed to know that medieval England was riven with divisions, and struggling with crises of class, gender, and religious identities. What, then, are the histories that Medieval English literature creates and obscures?

 

There will be a Middle English quiz, a creative translation project and accompanying short 2-page essay, and two papers:  a 4-5 page paper and a final 10-12 page paper. Class participation is expected.

 

This class will be reserved for senior English majors on first pass, and will open up to non-seniors on second pass.

Literatures in English 1500-1700

Renaissance Woman and Her Daughters

Studies in Gender and Sexuality
English M107B / Prof. McEachern

This course studies the genesis and development of a character type from a contradiction, namely, how the figure of the virtuous-yet-fallen, fallen-yet-graced, active-yet-passive, married-yet-chaste female protagonist of British literature is conceived in and of the English Reformation and its tensions between the essential equality of all souls before God and the political necessity of female subordination.  We will begin by exploring how this Renaissance woman emerges in the homiletic literature of the sixteenth-century (theology, conduct books, history), and is shaped into being in the heroines of Shakespeare, Spenser, Sidney and Milton.  We will then undertake to examine the ways in which the legacy of this genesis persists in the novels of Richardson, Austen, and Bronte.   Concerns will include the shifting notions of literary character, the demands of form upon it (poem, play, novel), the difference of material production (from boy actors to the female audiences of novels), influences of political and religious culture (female queens to the angel in the house), and the ways in which writers read their predecessors, i.e., notions of literary influence and formal innovation.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English M107B with Prof. McEachern in Winter 2017.

Shakespeare: Poems and Early Plays

English 150A / Prof. Dickey

A study of selected comedies, history plays, and tragedies from the first part of Shakespeare’s career.

Shakespeare: Later Plays

English 150B / Prof. Watson

An intensive study of Shakespeare’s works from 1604 onward, including Measure for MeasureOthelloKing LearMacbethCoriolanus and The Tempest. Students will write a brief exposition essay and a longer final essay, and will take midterm and final exams. Careful reading of the plays in their original language before class is essential, and regular attendance is required.

Theatrical Renaissance: Early Modern Texts and Performances

True Crime and Domestic Drama in Early Modern England
English 153 / Prof. Bonnici

In this course, we will explore early modern dramatizations of notorious murders of the day as well as plays concerned with the lives of ordinary people (sometimes the same). Plays include Arden of FavershamA Woman Killed with Kindness, and The Witch of Edmonton, along with crime pamphlets and ballads.

Reading the Witch in Early Modern England

Devotion and Dissent
English 156 / Prof. Bonnici

In this course, we will explore depictions of witchcraft, witch beliefs, and witch trials in 16th- and 17th-century England and Scotland. Our readings will include “true crime” pamphlets on particular cases; treatises on witchcraft, magic, and ritual (including the alleged blood-pact between the witch and the devil); and literary representations of witches in contemporary drama and ballads. Through our study of the witch figure, we will also consider issues of gender, sexuality, age, disability, class, race, religion, and political power.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 156 with Prof. Bonnici in Winter 2021.

The Ancient Foundations of Modernity: Renaissance Translations from the Classics

Translation and Innovation in English Renaissance and Early Modern Period
English 157 / Prof. Shuger

Until the late 19th century (and to some extent into the mid-20th), Greco-Roman texts written between 750 BC and ca 200 AD dominated the curriculum from grade school through college in both England and America. These are works of extraordinary importance (e.g., the checks-and-balances structure of the American constitution comes from the 1st century BC Greek historian, Polybius), and also of extraordinary beauty, variety, and intelligence. The course focuses on English Renaissance translations of the classics because the Renaissance was the rebirth (the re-naissance) of classical learning and literature, and one of the topics will be the translation of ancient texts into early modern cultural contexts, but the class also provides a general introduction to the classical underpinnings of English literature. Readings include selections from Homer, Ovid, Cicero, Pliny, Plutarch, Hesiod, Xenophon on topics as far-flung as love, duty, sex, science, and empire.

Students will write weekly short papers on the week’s readings and do a final project.

Colonial Beginnings of American Literature**

English 166A / Prof. Mazzaferro

This course offers a survey of colonial American literatures and cultures. While many of our texts were written in colonies that would become part of the United States, the course is not a literary history of the U.S. Instead, we’ll read works from the Chesapeake, New England, and the Caribbean on their own terms, stressing their local, regional, and Atlantic contexts and recovering the contingencies that made the new nation far from inevitable. Each week will focus on a pair of typical early American figures: the explorer, the native, the castaway, the captive, the convert, the heretic, the preacher, the witch, the master, the slave. Tackling a range of genres—settlement reportage, sermons, natural histories, political pamphlets, slave narratives, poetry—we’ll explore themes of discovery, indigeneity, puritan theology, imperialism, cultural exchange, and the parallel rise of Enlightenment and slavery. We’ll conclude with a 1767 novel whose mixed-race, gender-inverted retelling of Robinson Crusoe recaps these themes by reconvening the course’s key character types.

 

**This course fulfills the pre-1848 requirement for the American Literature & Culture major. Enrollment will be limited to American Literature and Culture majors during first pass; English majors may enroll during second pass.

Literatures in English 1700-1850

Transatlantic Romanticism

Transatlantic Romanticisms: Expanding the Canon from Below
English 163B / Prof. Shaub

In this course we will read canonical authors associated with British and American Romanticism from the perspective of underrepresented authors whose work reflects on, inspires, or is otherwise connected with theirs. After following the well-traveled path by which Washington Allston’s friendship with Samuel Taylor Coleridge precipitated the introduction into North America of Romantic-era ideas on nature and art, our focus will shift to the transatlantic literary networks that facilitated interactions between, for instance, Coleridge’s theory of imagination and the work of Phillis Wheatley, Ellen Sturgis Hooper’s poetry and the reputation of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno and the revolutionary writings of Toussaint L’Ouverture, or William Blake’s engraving and the travel narrative of John Gabriel Stedman. Such pairings will invite reexaminations of well-established authors by putting their work into discussion with authors of equal merit, but whose gender, race, and/or class created obstacles to their earlier inclusion in the literary canon.

The Novel from Austen to James

19th-Century Novel
English 164C / Prof. Dimuro

In this course we will study several thematic, generic, and technical dimensions of English prose fiction, focusing on five brilliant writers who expanded its artistic range during the hundred years or so in which the novel reached a high point of aesthetic accomplishment, popularity, and literary prestige. We will read Austen’s Emma, Brontë’s Villette, Dickens’s Great Expectations, and Eliot’s Middlemarch. The course will incorporate contemporary narratological theory, historical and material conditions, and themes of identity formation, consciousness, class tensions, gender, marriage and money, human ambition, professionalization, and many other topics that structure these novels. Writing requirements include short essays, a midterm exam and a final exam.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 164C with Prof. Dimuro in Fall 2019.

Imperial Culture, 1700 to 1850

Literature, Labor, and Empire, 1700-1850
English 165A / Prof. Shaub

This course will examine the development of British imperial culture as it emerged in the writing and art of the 18th- and 19th-centuries. We will engage critically with the myriad ways in which political and economic thought underpinned the discourse of empire, especially as it entered into debates concerning conquest, slavery, abolition, and the establishment of new systems of education in Britain and its colonies. What role has imaginative literature played in the advancement of, and resistance to, imperial expansion? What can this dual role of imaginative literature tell us about the emergence and development of literary study? The readings have been selected to give a sense of the wide variety of perspectives on these intersecting issues, particularly with regard to views on race, gender, and class, from the vantage of both colonizer and colonized. We will also make use of classic and recent critical studies of imperial culture in Britain, to provide contemporary perspective and useful tools for further investigation.

American Literature, 1776 to 1832**

English 166B / Prof. Cohen

This class surveys American literary history from the revolutionary conflict of the 1770s, through the founding of the United States and the early national period, across the expansionist period of the early nineteenth century, and up to the Jacksonian era and the beginnings of the sectional conflict.

We will read a range of different genres (declarations, essays, sketches, drama, travel writing, sentimental fiction, poetry, oratory, and novels) covering major social, political, and intellectual debates of the period: the tensions between liberty and sovereignty and Federalism and states’ rights; the “battle of the sexes” and the rights of women; westward expansion and Indigenous North America; the conflict over slavery; and civil rights and resistance.

**This course fulfills the pre-1848 requirement for the American Literature & Culture major. Enrollment will be limited to American Literature and Culture majors during first pass; English majors may enroll during second pass.

Major American Writers

English 168 / Prof. Calder

In this course, we will focus on well-known American authors who seek to change how “America” and American literature are understood. We will attend carefully to histories of settler colonialism and slavery by interrogating the cultural logics that drive these processes and consider how the authors we engage with critique them. Readings will include works by Gloria Anzaldúa, W.E.B. Du Bois, Gil Cuadros, Saidiya Hartman, Rebecca Harding Davis, Audre Lorde, Subcomandante Marcos, Simon Ortiz, Assata Shakur, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Colson Whitehead.

 

Literatures in English 1850 – Present

Queer American Autobiography

Studies in Queer Literatures and Cultures
English M101D / Prof. Looby

Autobiography has been essential to the emergence of queer identities in the modern world. Autobiographies, memoirs, and other genres of self-writing have to do with selfhood and subjectivity; gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and other queer forms of selfhood and subjectivity have often been articulated in such forms and even, it can be argued, were substantially created by autobiographical forms. This course will explore various self-authoring forms (including several diaries, a travel narrative, several memoirs, a medical case study, a graphic novel, and a film). Some of them are queer in ways anyone would recognize, such as Mary MacLane’s remarkable I Await the Devil’s Coming (first published in 1902 under a more innocuous title, The Story of Mary MacLane), Ralph Werther’s Autobiography of an Androgyne (1918), Jonathan Caouette’s film Tarnation (2003), and Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006). Others will test the boundaries of what we mean by “queer,” for example the Diary of Michael Wigglesworth (1653-1657) and Margaret J. M. Sweat’s autobiographical novel, Ethel’s Love-Life (1859). Careful attention will be given to the ways in which queer gender and sexuality intersect with experiences of race, ethnicity, class, and nationality.

 

Texts:

Wigglesworth, Michael. The Diary of Michael Wigglesworth, 1653-1657.

Sweat, Margaret J. M. Ethel’s Love-Life. 1859.

Whitman, Walt. Memoranda During the War. 1875-76.

MacLane, Mary. The Story of Mary MacLane. 1902.

Werther, Ralph. Autobiography of an Androgyne. 1922.

Arenas, Reinaldo. Before Night Falls: A Memoir. 1992.

Caouette, Jonathan. Tarnation. 2004.

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home. 2006.

African American Literature of 1960s and 1970s

English M104C / Prof. Bradley

This course surveys African American literary expression from the insurgent politics and aesthetics of the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s to the flourishing of Black women’s writing and the birth of hip hop in the 1970s. We shall analyze novels and short stories, poems and plays, essays and songs. Major figures include Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Ishmael Reed, Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, Roxanne Shanté, and more.

Contemporary African American Literature

English M104D / Prof. Goyal

Introductory survey of African American literature from 1980s to present covering range of genres, with emphasis on diversity of perspectives and styles that have emerged over past 30 years or so. Authors may include Toni Morrison, August Wilson, Octavia Butler, Anna Deavere Smith, June Jordan, Charles Johnson, and Rita Dove.

“In the Heart of the Hibernian Metropolis”: Literary Dublin

Literary Cities
English 119 / Prof. Jaurretche

Using the city of Dublin as our locus, students in this course will read a variety of major works written by Dublin writers. A grounding in Dublin geography, urban study, and history will prepare students to consider various dimensions of Irish experience in the twentieth-century, from its status as a country under British rule through its fight for independence, and ultimate autonomy. The course is online, and some lectures will be uploaded for you to watch on your own schedule.  We will use our class time together for discussion.  A feature of this class is team research and annotation of digitized archival and historical items for publication as a Field Guide.  This work will prepare students to write a long paper on literature from a historically informed base of knowledge, and in turn serve as foundation for the minor in Urban Literature and Cultures.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 119 with Prof. Jaurretche in Spring 2020.

Diving Deep: Postcolonial Perspectives on the Oceanic Imaginary

Studies in Postcolonial Literature
English 131 / Prof. DeLoughrey

This course traces out the recent oceanic turn in the humanities, with an emphasis on postcolonial methods and approaches. We will examine contemporary postcolonial literature (poetry, short stories and the novel), visual arts, and films that represent the ocean as a space of migration, climate change, embodiment, fluidity, habitation, mining, and a place for an engagement with nonhuman others as well as alternative knowledges and ontologies. We will examine the relationship between empire and the oceans through postcolonial, feminist, and indigenous methodologies, with a particular emphasis on texts from the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. Requirements include active class participation, weekly forum postings, a short presentation and a final essay/project.

 

This course is eligible for credit on the Literature & the Environment minor.

Henry James

Individual Authors
English 139 / Prof. Dimuro

The career of Henry James is unique in scope, experimentation, technical brilliance, and psychological depth. With Mark Twain and William Dean Howells, James was among the most important American novelists of the so-called “age of realism,” and the one whose influential works still fascinate and challenge readers. Although he also wrote book reviews, plays, travel literature, literary criticism, prefaces for his collected works, and several volumes of autobiography, this course focuses on James’s prose fiction. James launched his career with the international success of Daisy Miller and his first full-length masterpiece, The Portrait of a Lady. We will also read his satire of feminism called The Bostonians, his study of greed in The Spoils of Poynton, and a number of his best stories including “The Pupil” and “The Beast in the Jungle.” As we make our way through James’s later phase, we will read some of his “Prefaces,” as well as The Ambassadors, which was James’s own favorite novel among his works. Two papers, exercises, and a final examination.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 139 with Prof. Dimuro in Winter 2019 or Spring 2020.

The Novel from Austen to James

19th-Century Novel
English 164C / Prof. Dimuro

In this course we will study several thematic, generic, and technical dimensions of English prose fiction, focusing on five brilliant writers who expanded its artistic range during the hundred years or so in which the novel reached a high point of aesthetic accomplishment, popularity, and literary prestige. We will read Austen’s Emma, Brontë’s Villette, Dickens’s Great Expectations, and Eliot’s Middlemarch. The course will incorporate contemporary narratological theory, historical and material conditions, and themes of identity formation, consciousness, class tensions, gender, marriage and money, human ambition, professionalization, and many other topics that structure these novels. Writing requirements include short essays, a midterm exam and a final exam.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 164C with Prof. Dimuro in Fall 2019.

Major American Writers

English 168 / Prof. Calder

In this course, we will focus on well-known American authors who seek to change how “America” and American literature are understood. We will attend carefully to histories of settler colonialism and slavery by interrogating the cultural logics that drive these processes and consider how the authors we engage with critique them. Readings will include works by Gloria Anzaldúa, W.E.B. Du Bois, Gil Cuadros, Saidiya Hartman, Rebecca Harding Davis, Audre Lorde, Subcomandante Marcos, Simon Ortiz, Assata Shakur, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Colson Whitehead.

American Literature, 1865 to 1900

English 170A / Prof. Colacurcio

Historical survey of American literature from end of Civil War to beginning of 20th century, including writers such as Howells, James, Twain, Norris, Dickinson, Crane, Chesnutt, Gilman, and others working in modes of realist and naturalist novel, regional and vernacular prose, and poetry.

20th-Century British Fiction

English 171C / Prof. Jin

In this course we will read major British novels from over the course of the twentieth century, with a double focus on how these novels explore constructions of “Englishness” and how they do so through various narrative forms.  It is impossible to do this without situating British literary production in the historical context of empire in the first half of the twentieth century, and in the effects and processes of decolonization after World War II.  We will also pay close attention to the functions and operations of literary criticism itself, considering what kinds of knowledge about social, historical, and political structures are made visible by reading fiction.  Authors may include Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Sam Selvon, and Arundhati Roy.

Drama, 1945 to Present

The Theatre of the Absurd
English 172B / Prof. Stefans

The Theatre of the Absurd represented one of the most dominant trends in dramatic writing in the post-war period. Martin Esslin coined the term “The Theatre of the Absurd,” writing: “The Theatre of the Absurd attacks the comfortable certainties of religious or political orthodoxy. It aims to shock its audience out of complacency, to bring it face to face with the harsh facts of the human situation as these writers see it. But the challenge behind this message is anything but one of despair. It is a challenge to accept the human condition as it is, in all its mystery and absurdity, and to bear it with dignity, nobly, responsibly; precisely because there are no easy solutions to the mysteries of existence, because ultimately man is alone in a meaningless world.” Esslin’s description, however, doesn’t hint at the unique synthesis of zaniness, meta-intellectual games, seriocomic tragedy, cosmic “existential” musing, and often clownish, even athletic, performance styles that characterized several of the works. Major English and Irish playwrights associated with the theatre of the absurd include Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard. But “absurdism” has also had a distinctively American tradition in such writers as Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, María Irene Fornés, Mac Wellman, Suzan-Lori Parks and others. In this course, we will read, view, perform and discuss works for the theater by these writers. Assignments include weekly worksheets, creative assignments and experiments in staging parts of these plays in online platforms. A final paper or creative project is also required.

American Poetry, 1900 to 1945

English 173A / Prof. Schmidt

This course will consider American poetry from the turn of the century through the end of World War II. We will read substantial selections from T. S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Marianne Moore, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and others. Throughout the quarter, we will pay particular attention to how different authors define and put pressure on the conceptual components of the phrase “Modern American Poetry.” To do so, we will examine how individual poems engage with notions of history, nation, and literary form as we explore a range of approaches to reading, analyzing, and writing about poetry.

American Poetry since 1945

English 173B / Prof. Bradley

This course offers both a survey of major poets and poetic movements in the United States since World War II and close engagement with the work of a handful of contemporary poets. In the first half of the term, we shall chart the course of American poetry since 1945 so as to establish a common foundation and a sense of the evolving critical, aesthetic, and political concerns of the times. We shall read poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, Lyn Hejinian, and many others. In the second half of the course, we shall dedicate each week to a book by a living poet. The goal here is to foster a deeper immersion in the work of that poet and a greater appreciation for the craft of composing a sequence of poems. All of these contemporary poets will make virtual visits to our class, which will allow students the opportunity to hear them read and to engage them in discussion. Throughout the term, class meetings will focus on honing different ways of reading poems and writing about them.

 

American Fiction since 1945

English 174B / Prof. Youn

In this course, we will explore a wide range of literary narratives—mainly the novel, but also short story and graphic novel—from 1945 to the present. The main focus of the course is tracing the formal and thematic developments of the novel in the period, paying particular attention to the innovations in the novel’s form to respond to and engage with the social upheavals and transformations in the United States. In the process, students will be able to identify and discuss the themes, concerns, and formal strategies of post-1945 American novels, and situate them within its socio-cultural and historical contexts. Topics of discussion include gender, race, immigrant narrative, technology, environmental issues, and consumerism among others.

Contemporary American Fiction (What’s Happening Now?)

English 174C / Prof. Huehls

 

This course examines recent trends in contemporary American fiction, focusing in particular on the past thirty years of literary output from U.S. novelists. As this literary period is nascent and in constant flux, we’ll be particularly interested in establishing its thematic and formal departures from postmodernism. The class will examine the period’s critique of its postmodern predecessors and will then investigate various themes and techniques that contemporary authors engage to distinguish themselves and their literary moment. Readings include work by Jeffrey Eugenides, Percival Everett, Junot Diaz, and Jennifer Egan.

The Evolution of Anti-racism in Nonfiction Prose and Documentary Film

American Nonfictional Prose
English 175 / Prof. Solomon

 This course will highlight the significant contribution made by writers, visual artists, and filmmakers to the on-going project of anti-racism in U.S. culture. We will trace the development of anti-racist arguments from the late 19th century to the present, examining important essays, speeches, manifestos, exposés, graphic novels, and documentary films that were produced with the explicit intent of challenging the status quo, redefinining notions of community, and – ultimately – bringing about a more perfect union.

American Sex

Interdisciplinary Studies of American Culture
English 177.1 / Prof. Looby

American Sex will be an interdisciplinary exploration of a series of significant episodes in the long and complicated history of American sex. From the secret diary of a Puritan minister, Michael Wigglesworth (1652-57), in which he recorded his sexual transgressions, to the scandalous “bad book affair” in Jonathan Edwards’s congregation (1744), to Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s famous sex scandal (1790s), and on through the nineteenth century, what counted as “sex” constantly changed and what we call “sexuality” gradually emerged. To trace these changes and this emergence we will also study novels and stories by Charles Brockden Brown, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Julia Ward Howe, Sarah Orne Jewett, Margaret Sweat, Walt Whitman and Theodore Winthrop. In addition we will study notorious neoclassical marble sculptures by Hiram Powers (The Greek Slave, 1843), Harriet Hosmer (Zenobia in Chains, 1859), and Benjamin Paul Akers (The Dead Pearl Diver, 1858), as well as a scandalous painting by Thomas Eakins (Swimming, 1885). In each case, we will ask: how did these texts and art works understand and represent the acts, identities, and pleasures that today are collected under the rubric of “sexuality”? American Sex will combine rich primary materials with active reflection on interdisciplinary research methods.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 177 with Prof. Looby in Spring 2018.

Alice Munro and Writing the Short Story

Topics in Literature, circa 1850 to Present
English 179.1 / Prof. Huneven

This is a class designed for creative writers and other serious students of the short story. Alice Munro redefined what could be accomplished in a short story, and in doing so introduced new literary techniques and pleasures to the genre. Her capacity to render life in small town Ontario—especially the lives of girls and women—with nuance, complexity, and universal appeal earned her the Nobel Prize. We will study 2 or 3 Munro stories a week. Class discussions will arise from student presentations on topics as literary craft, historical context, and sexual politics.

Viral Lit

Topics in Literature, circa 1850 to Present
English 179.2 / Prof. Schmidt

What happens when a song lyric gets stuck in your head? Or when a catchy phrase circulates far beyond its original context? In this course, we will examine how literary authors think about these types of questions in relationship to individual and collective memory. To do so, we will read key representations and examples of textual virality from different genres and different moments in American literary history since 1850. We will explore fiction by Mark Twain, William Saroyan, Ishmael Reed, and Kristen Roupenian; selections from poets such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, T. S. Eliot, Gwendolyn Brooks, Christian Bök, Juliana Spahr, Patricia Lockwood, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, and Rupi Kaur; and theoretical essays by Roman Jakobson, Theodor Adorno, Michel Serres, and Sianne Ngai.

 

Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Sexuality Studies

Queer American Autobiography

Studies in Queer Literatures and Cultures
English M101D / Prof. Looby

Autobiography has been essential to the emergence of queer identities in the modern world. Autobiographies, memoirs, and other genres of self-writing have to do with selfhood and subjectivity; gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and other queer forms of selfhood and subjectivity have often been articulated in such forms and even, it can be argued, were substantially created by autobiographical forms. This course will explore various self-authoring forms (including several diaries, a travel narrative, several memoirs, a medical case study, a graphic novel, and a film). Some of them are queer in ways anyone would recognize, such as Mary MacLane’s remarkable I Await the Devil’s Coming (first published in 1902 under a more innocuous title, The Story of Mary MacLane), Ralph Werther’s Autobiography of an Androgyne (1918), Jonathan Caouette’s film Tarnation (2003), and Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006). Others will test the boundaries of what we mean by “queer,” for example the Diary of Michael Wigglesworth (1653-1657) and Margaret J. M. Sweat’s autobiographical novel, Ethel’s Love-Life (1859). Careful attention will be given to the ways in which queer gender and sexuality intersect with experiences of race, ethnicity, class, and nationality.

 

Texts:

Wigglesworth, Michael. The Diary of Michael Wigglesworth, 1653-1657.

Sweat, Margaret J. M. Ethel’s Love-Life. 1859.

Whitman, Walt. Memoranda During the War. 1875-76.

MacLane, Mary. The Story of Mary MacLane. 1902.

Werther, Ralph. Autobiography of an Androgyne. 1922.

Arenas, Reinaldo. Before Night Falls: A Memoir. 1992.

Caouette, Jonathan. Tarnation. 2004.

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home. 2006.

African American Literature of 1960s and 1970s

English M104C / Prof. Bradley

This course surveys African American literary expression from the insurgent politics and aesthetics of the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s to the flourishing of Black women’s writing and the birth of hip hop in the 1970s. We shall analyze novels and short stories, poems and plays, essays and songs. Major figures include Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Ishmael Reed, Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, Roxanne Shanté, and more.

Contemporary African American Literature

English M104D / Prof. Goyal

Introductory survey of African American literature from 1980s to present covering range of genres, with emphasis on diversity of perspectives and styles that have emerged over past 30 years or so. Authors may include Toni Morrison, August Wilson, Octavia Butler, Anna Deavere Smith, June Jordan, Charles Johnson, and Rita Dove.

Renaissance Woman and Her Daughters

Studies in Gender and Sexuality
English M107B / Prof. McEachern

This course studies the genesis and development of a character type from a contradiction, namely, how the figure of the virtuous-yet-fallen, fallen-yet-graced, active-yet-passive, married-yet-chaste female protagonist of British literature is conceived in and of the English Reformation and its tensions between the essential equality of all souls before God and the political necessity of female subordination.  We will begin by exploring how this Renaissance woman emerges in the homiletic literature of the sixteenth-century (theology, conduct books, history), and is shaped into being in the heroines of Shakespeare, Spenser, Sidney and Milton.  We will then undertake to examine the ways in which the legacy of this genesis persists in the novels of Richardson, Austen, and Bronte.   Concerns will include the shifting notions of literary character, the demands of form upon it (poem, play, novel), the difference of material production (from boy actors to the female audiences of novels), influences of political and religious culture (female queens to the angel in the house), and the ways in which writers read their predecessors, i.e., notions of literary influence and formal innovation.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English M107B with Prof. McEachern in Winter 2017

Queer of Color Feminisms

Feminist and Queer Theory
English M126 / Prof. S.K. Lee

This course offers a survey of the rifts and relations between queer theory and feminist theory, particularly paying attention to how race and ethnicity structure the theoretical debates between them. Students will consider the critical interventions of black and women of color feminism, postcolonial feminism, queer of color critique, trans of color critique, and queer crip of color critique to engage ongoing discussions around Western colonial formations of modern subjectivity, care and consent, embodiment, desire, as well as aesthetic and political representation. Queer theory and feminist theory will be approached as distinct yet entangled collaborative modes of thought with theoretical turns that emerge in the wake of racial and ethnic difference.

 

This course qualifies as a critical theory course for students planning to pursue Departmental Honors.

Voices of the Early Black Atlantic**

Literature of the Americas
English 135 / Prof. Silva

This course will investigate how voices of the early Black Atlantic constituted themselves in the literary and historical imagination of the era. Drawing from Anglophone texts written by authors of African and European descent between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries, we will consider the various forms that these voices inhabit, their modes of expression, and the tropes and figures associate with them. As the quarter progresses, we will ask ourselves what we mean by voice, by speech, by silence, and by authority—particularly as these relate to a broad constellation of forms, genres, and modes of mediation. We will push the conceptual limits of these seemingly familiar narrative categories, and consider how the literatures of the early Black Atlantic reshape our understanding of the structures and methods of literary study. Please note that a number of the texts for this course include accounts and descriptions of the Atlantic slave trade.

**This course meets the pre-1848 requirement for American Literature and Culture majors.

Reading the Witch in Early Modern England

Devotion and Dissent
English 156 / Prof. Bonnici

In this course, we will explore depictions of witchcraft, witch beliefs, and witch trials in 16th- and 17th-century England and Scotland. Our readings will include “true crime” pamphlets on particular cases; treatises on witchcraft, magic, and ritual (including the alleged blood-pact between the witch and the devil); and literary representations of witches in contemporary drama and ballads. Through our study of the witch figure, we will also consider issues of gender, sexuality, age, disability, class, race, religion, and political power.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 156 with Prof. Bonnici in Winter 2021.

The Evolution of Anti-racism in Nonfiction Prose and Documentary Film

American Nonfictional Prose
English 175 / Prof. Solomon

 This course will highlight the significant contribution made by writers, visual artists, and filmmakers to the on-going project of anti-racism in U.S. culture. We will trace the development of anti-racist arguments from the late 19th century to the present, examining important essays, speeches, manifestos, exposés, graphic novels, and documentary films that were produced with the explicit intent of challenging the status quo, redefinining notions of community, and – ultimately – bringing about a more perfect union.

American Sex

Interdisciplinary Studies of American Culture
English 177.1 / Prof. Looby

American Sex will be an interdisciplinary exploration of a series of significant episodes in the long and complicated history of American sex. From the secret diary of a Puritan minister, Michael Wigglesworth (1652-57), in which he recorded his sexual transgressions, to the scandalous “bad book affair” in Jonathan Edwards’s congregation (1744), to Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s famous sex scandal (1790s), and on through the nineteenth century, what counted as “sex” constantly changed and what we call “sexuality” gradually emerged. To trace these changes and this emergence we will also study novels and stories by Charles Brockden Brown, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Julia Ward Howe, Sarah Orne Jewett, Margaret Sweat, Walt Whitman and Theodore Winthrop. In addition we will study notorious neoclassical marble sculptures by Hiram Powers (The Greek Slave, 1843), Harriet Hosmer (Zenobia in Chains, 1859), and Benjamin Paul Akers (The Dead Pearl Diver, 1858), as well as a scandalous painting by Thomas Eakins (Swimming, 1885). In each case, we will ask: how did these texts and art works understand and represent the acts, identities, and pleasures that today are collected under the rubric of “sexuality”? American Sex will combine rich primary materials with active reflection on interdisciplinary research methods.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 177 with Prof. Looby in Spring 2018.

 

Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies

 

Diving Deep: Postcolonial Perspectives on the Oceanic Imaginary

Studies in Postcolonial Literature
English 131 / Prof. DeLoughrey

This course traces out the recent oceanic turn in the humanities, with an emphasis on postcolonial methods and approaches. We will examine contemporary postcolonial literature (poetry, short stories and the novel), visual arts, and films that represent the ocean as a space of migration, climate change, embodiment, fluidity, habitation, mining, and a place for an engagement with nonhuman others as well as alternative knowledges and ontologies. We will examine the relationship between empire and the oceans through postcolonial, feminist, and indigenous methodologies, with a particular emphasis on texts from the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. Requirements include active class participation, weekly forum postings, a short presentation and a final essay/project.

 

This course is eligible for credit on the Literature & the Environment minor.

Introduction to Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Literatures

Culture & Imperialism
English 132 / Prof. Cohen

This course offers an introduction to the literatures, concepts, and theories of imperialism, transnationalism, and postcolonialism (ITP). It presumes no prior experience studying these topics.

Imperial, transnational, and postcolonial literatures combine a number of histories and periods, are not localized to specific geographies, and encompass a vast field of literatures in English, from commonwealth writings, to creole literatures, to canonical British and American texts. This course organizes these diverse topics by introducing the major concepts that structure their theoretical and literary histories.

The course will answer the basic question—what is ITP?—by using literary texts to define a series of critical keywords, including “empire,” “transnationalism,” “postcolonialism,” “oceanic,” “hemispheric,” “diaspora,” and “migration.”

Voices of the Early Black Atlantic**

Literature of the Americas
English 135 / Prof. Silva

This course will investigate how voices of the early Black Atlantic constituted themselves in the literary and historical imagination of the era. Drawing from Anglophone texts written by authors of African and European descent between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries, we will consider the various forms that these voices inhabit, their modes of expression, and the tropes and figures associate with them. As the quarter progresses, we will ask ourselves what we mean by voice, by speech, by silence, and by authority—particularly as these relate to a broad constellation of forms, genres, and modes of mediation. We will push the conceptual limits of these seemingly familiar narrative categories, and consider how the literatures of the early Black Atlantic reshape our understanding of the structures and methods of literary study. Please note that a number of the texts for this course include accounts and descriptions of the Atlantic slave trade.

**This course meets the pre-1848 requirement for American Literature and Culture majors.

The Ancient Foundations of Modernity: Renaissance Translations from the Classics

Translation and Innovation in English Renaissance and Early Modern Period
English 157 / Prof. Shuger

Until the late 19th century (and to some extent into the mid-20th), Greco-Roman texts written between 750 BC and ca 200 AD dominated the curriculum from grade school through college in both England and America. These are works of extraordinary importance (e.g., the checks-and-balances structure of the American constitution comes from the 1st century BC Greek historian, Polybius), and also of extraordinary beauty, variety, and intelligence. The course focuses on English Renaissance translations of the classics because the Renaissance was the rebirth (the re-naissance) of classical learning and literature, and one of the topics will be the translation of ancient texts into early modern cultural contexts, but the class also provides a general introduction to the classical underpinnings of English literature. Readings include selections from Homer, Ovid, Cicero, Pliny, Plutarch, Hesiod, Xenophon on topics as far-flung as love, duty, sex, science, and empire.

Students will write weekly short papers on the week’s readings and do a final project.

Transatlantic Romanticism

Transatlantic Romanticisms: Expanding the Canon from Below
English 163B / Prof. Shaub

In this course we will read canonical authors associated with British and American Romanticism from the perspective of underrepresented authors whose work reflects on, inspires, or is otherwise connected with theirs. After following the well-traveled path by which Washington Allston’s friendship with Samuel Taylor Coleridge precipitated the introduction into North America of Romantic-era ideas on nature and art, our focus will shift to the transatlantic literary networks that facilitated interactions between, for instance, Coleridge’s theory of imagination and the work of Phillis Wheatley, Ellen Sturgis Hooper’s poetry and the reputation of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno and the revolutionary writings of Toussaint L’Ouverture, or William Blake’s engraving and the travel narrative of John Gabriel Stedman. Such pairings will invite reexaminations of well-established authors by putting their work into discussion with authors of equal merit, but whose gender, race, and/or class created obstacles to their earlier inclusion in the literary canon.

Imperial Culture, 1700 to 1850

Literature, Labor, and Empire, 1700-1850
English 165A / Prof. Shaub

This course will examine the development of British imperial culture as it emerged in the writing and art of the 18th- and 19th-centuries. We will engage critically with the myriad ways in which political and economic thought underpinned the discourse of empire, especially as it entered into debates concerning conquest, slavery, abolition, and the establishment of new systems of education in Britain and its colonies. What role has imaginative literature played in the advancement of, and resistance to, imperial expansion? What can this dual role of imaginative literature tell us about the emergence and development of literary study? The readings have been selected to give a sense of the wide variety of perspectives on these intersecting issues, particularly with regard to views on race, gender, and class, from the vantage of both colonizer and colonized. We will also make use of classic and recent critical studies of imperial culture in Britain, to provide contemporary perspective and useful tools for further investigation.

Colonial Beginnings of American Literature**

English 166A / Prof. Mazzaferro

This course offers a survey of colonial American literatures and cultures. While many of our texts were written in colonies that would become part of the United States, the course is not a literary history of the U.S. Instead, we’ll read works from the Chesapeake, New England, and the Caribbean on their own terms, stressing their local, regional, and Atlantic contexts and recovering the contingencies that made the new nation far from inevitable. Each week will focus on a pair of typical early American figures: the explorer, the native, the castaway, the captive, the convert, the heretic, the preacher, the witch, the master, the slave. Tackling a range of genres—settlement reportage, sermons, natural histories, political pamphlets, slave narratives, poetry—we’ll explore themes of discovery, indigeneity, puritan theology, imperialism, cultural exchange, and the parallel rise of Enlightenment and slavery. We’ll conclude with a 1767 novel whose mixed-race, gender-inverted retelling of Robinson Crusoe recaps these themes by reconvening the course’s key character types.

 

**This course fulfills the pre-1848 requirement for the American Literature & Culture major. Enrollment will be limited to American Literature and Culture majors during first pass; English majors may enroll during second pass.

American Literature, 1776 to 1832**

English 166B / Prof. Cohen

This class surveys American literary history from the revolutionary conflict of the 1770s, through the founding of the United States and the early national period, across the expansionist period of the early nineteenth century, and up to the Jacksonian era and the beginnings of the sectional conflict.

We will read a range of different genres (declarations, essays, sketches, drama, travel writing, sentimental fiction, poetry, oratory, and novels) covering major social, political, and intellectual debates of the period: the tensions between liberty and sovereignty and Federalism and states’ rights; the “battle of the sexes” and the rights of women; westward expansion and Indigenous North America; the conflict over slavery; and civil rights and resistance.

**This course fulfills the pre-1848 requirement for the American Literature & Culture major. Enrollment will be limited to American Literature and Culture majors during first pass; English majors may enroll during second pass.

 

Genre Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, Critical Theory

Queer American Autobiography

English M101D / Prof. Looby
Studies in Queer Literatures and Cultures

Autobiography has been essential to the emergence of queer identities in the modern world. Autobiographies, memoirs, and other genres of self-writing have to do with selfhood and subjectivity; gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and other queer forms of selfhood and subjectivity have often been articulated in such forms and even, it can be argued, were substantially created by autobiographical forms. This course will explore various self-authoring forms (including several diaries, a travel narrative, several memoirs, a medical case study, a graphic novel, and a film). Some of them are queer in ways anyone would recognize, such as Mary MacLane’s remarkable I Await the Devil’s Coming (first published in 1902 under a more innocuous title, The Story of Mary MacLane), Ralph Werther’s Autobiography of an Androgyne (1918), Jonathan Caouette’s film Tarnation (2003), and Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006). Others will test the boundaries of what we mean by “queer,” for example the Diary of Michael Wigglesworth (1653-1657) and Margaret J. M. Sweat’s autobiographical novel, Ethel’s Love-Life (1859). Careful attention will be given to the ways in which queer gender and sexuality intersect with experiences of race, ethnicity, class, and nationality.

 

Texts:

 

Wigglesworth, Michael. The Diary of Michael Wigglesworth, 1653-1657.

Sweat, Margaret J. M. Ethel’s Love-Life. 1859.

Whitman, Walt. Memoranda During the War. 1875-76.

MacLane, Mary. The Story of Mary MacLane. 1902.

Werther, Ralph. Autobiography of an Androgyne. 1922.

Arenas, Reinaldo. Before Night Falls: A Memoir. 1992.

Caouette, Jonathan. Tarnation. 2004.

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home. 2006.

 

Orpheus and Eurydice Redux: Multimedia Avatars of a Myth

Literature and Other Arts
English 118B / Prof. Gallagher

This course examines the persistent power of the Orpheus legend to expose fault lines in social and political life. Course materials range from Greek and Roman antiquity to the present day and cover several genres and aesthetic forms (poetry, drama, fiction, opera, musical theater, film, and visual art objects). Critical perspectives from philosophies of myth will target the mythic avatars’ eloquence as coded witnesses to several species of harm: domestic abuse, forced labor and incarceration, constrictive gender expressions, and micro-betrayals of intimacy and safety. The avatars’ diagnostic power also mobilizes incentives to corrective and reparative action in the face of foreclosed expectations of how stories of loss and displacement may turn out. Course materials include Alfred Hitchcock’s celebrated noirish film Vertigo and the French novel that inspired it, Jean Cocteau’s surrealist-inflected film Orpheus, and Anaïs Mitchell’s folk opera musical Hadestown. Student research outcomes include the option of selecting and curating materials for a digital project.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 118B with Prof. Gallagher in Winter 2020.

“In the Heart of the Hibernian Metropolis”: Literary Dublin

Literary Cities
English 119 / Prof. Jaurretche

Using the city of Dublin as our locus, students in this course will read a variety of major works written by Dublin writers. A grounding in Dublin geography, urban study, and history will prepare students to consider various dimensions of Irish experience in the twentieth-century, from its status as a country under British rule through its fight for independence, and ultimate autonomy. The course is online, and some lectures will be uploaded for you to watch on your own schedule.  We will use our class time together for discussion.  A feature of this class is team research and annotation of digitized archival and historical items for publication as a Field Guide.  This work will prepare students to write a long paper on literature from a historically informed base of knowledge, and in turn serve as foundation for the minor in Urban Literature and Cultures.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 119 with Prof. Jaurretche in Spring 2020.

Time and Eternity in Monotheistic Traditions

Theories of Religion
English 124 / Prof. Kaufman

This class will engage with a demanding set of readings that explore the differences between chronologically-defined temporality (past, present, and future), Christian models of timeless eternity, Jewish messianism, and cyclical time from mystical Islam.  The first half of the class will explore notions of eternity in Ancient (Plato, Aristotle, Philo), Late Antique (Augustine, Boethius), Medieval (Maimonides, Suhrawardi, Aquinas), and early modern (Calvin, Leibniz, Spinoza) philosophy and theology.  We will then take up a range of modern and contemporary works of philosophy and literature that critique, revise, or uphold the models of chronological time, cyclical time, divine timelessness, and messianic waiting we have thus far encountered.  Thinkers discussed in the second half of the course may include Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Massignon, Kafka, Benjamin, Corbin, Borges, Scholem, Beckett, Duras, Weil, and Agamben.

 

This course qualifies as a critical theory course for students planning to pursue Departmental Honors.

 

Queer of Color Feminisms

Feminist and Queer Theory
English M126 / Prof. S.K. Lee

This course offers a survey of the rifts and relations between queer theory and feminist theory, particularly paying attention to how race and ethnicity structure the theoretical debates between them. Students will consider the critical interventions of black and women of color feminism, postcolonial feminism, queer of color critique, trans of color critique, and queer crip of color critique to engage ongoing discussions around Western colonial formations of modern subjectivity, care and consent, embodiment, desire, as well as aesthetic and political representation. Queer theory and feminist theory will be approached as distinct yet entangled collaborative modes of thought with theoretical turns that emerge in the wake of racial and ethnic difference.

 

This course qualifies as a critical theory course for students planning to pursue Departmental Honors.

Henry James

Individual Authors
English 139.1 / Prof. Dimuro

The career of Henry James is unique in scope, experimentation, technical brilliance, and psychological depth. With Mark Twain and William Dean Howells, James was among the most important American novelists of the so-called “age of realism,” and the one whose influential works still fascinate and challenge readers. Although he also wrote book reviews, plays, travel literature, literary criticism, prefaces for his collected works, and several volumes of autobiography, this course focuses on James’s prose fiction. James launched his career with the international success of Daisy Miller and his first full-length masterpiece, The Portrait of a Lady. We will also read his satire of feminism called The Bostonians, his study of greed in The Spoils of Poynton, and a number of his best stories including “The Pupil” and “The Beast in the Jungle.” As we make our way through James’s later phase, we will read some of his “Prefaces,” as well as The Ambassadors, which was James’s own favorite novel among his works. Two papers, exercises, and a final examination.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 139 with Prof. Dimuro in Winter 2019 or Spring 2020.

Theatrical Renaissance: Early Modern Texts and Performances

True Crime and Domestic Drama in Early Modern England
English 153 / Prof. Bonnici

In this course, we will explore early modern dramatizations of notorious murders of the day as well as plays concerned with the lives of ordinary people (sometimes the same). Plays include Arden of FavershamA Woman Killed with Kindness, and The Witch of Edmonton, along with crime pamphlets and ballads.

Reading the Witch in Early Modern England

Devotion and Dissent
English 156 / Prof. Bonnici

In this course, we will explore depictions of witchcraft, witch beliefs, and witch trials in 16th- and 17th-century England and Scotland. Our readings will include “true crime” pamphlets on particular cases; treatises on witchcraft, magic, and ritual (including the alleged blood-pact between the witch and the devil); and literary representations of witches in contemporary drama and ballads. Through our study of the witch figure, we will also consider issues of gender, sexuality, age, disability, class, race, religion, and political power.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 156 with Prof. Bonnici in Winter 2021.

The Novel from Austen to James

19th Century Novel
English 164C / Prof. Dimuro

In this course we will study several thematic, generic, and technical dimensions of English prose fiction, focusing on five brilliant writers who expanded its artistic range during the hundred years or so in which the novel reached a high point of aesthetic accomplishment, popularity, and literary prestige. We will read Austen’s Emma, Brontë’s Villette, Dickens’s Great Expectations, and Eliot’s Middlemarch. The course will incorporate contemporary narratological theory, historical and material conditions, and themes of identity formation, consciousness, class tensions, gender, marriage and money, human ambition, professionalization, and many other topics that structure these novels. Writing requirements include short essays, a midterm exam and a final exam.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 164C with Prof. Dimuro in Fall 2019.

20th-Century British Fiction

English 171C / Prof. Jin

In this course we will read major British novels from over the course of the twentieth century, with a double focus on how these novels explore constructions of “Englishness” and how they do so through various narrative forms.  It is impossible to do this without situating British literary production in the historical context of empire in the first half of the twentieth century, and in the effects and processes of decolonization after World War II.  We will also pay close attention to the functions and operations of literary criticism itself, considering what kinds of knowledge about social, historical, and political structures are made visible by reading fiction.  Authors may include Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Sam Selvon, and Arundhati Roy.

Drama, 1945 to Present

The Theatre of the Absurd
English 172B / Prof. Stefans

The Theatre of the Absurd represented one of the most dominant trends in dramatic writing in the post-war period. Martin Esslin coined the term “The Theatre of the Absurd,” writing: “The Theatre of the Absurd attacks the comfortable certainties of religious or political orthodoxy. It aims to shock its audience out of complacency, to bring it face to face with the harsh facts of the human situation as these writers see it. But the challenge behind this message is anything but one of despair. It is a challenge to accept the human condition as it is, in all its mystery and absurdity, and to bear it with dignity, nobly, responsibly; precisely because there are no easy solutions to the mysteries of existence, because ultimately man is alone in a meaningless world.” Esslin’s description, however, doesn’t hint at the unique synthesis of zaniness, meta-intellectual games, seriocomic tragedy, cosmic “existential” musing, and often clownish, even athletic, performance styles that characterized several of the works. Major English and Irish playwrights associated with the theatre of the absurd include Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard. But “absurdism” has also had a distinctively American tradition in such writers as Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, María Irene Fornés, Mac Wellman, Suzan-Lori Parks and others. In this course, we will read, view, perform and discuss works for the theater by these writers. Assignments include weekly worksheets, creative assignments and experiments in staging parts of these plays in online platforms. A final paper or creative project is also required.

American Poetry, 1900 to 1945

English 173A / Prof. Schmidt

This course will consider American poetry from the turn of the century through the end of World War II. We will read substantial selections from T. S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Marianne Moore, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and others. Throughout the quarter, we will pay particular attention to how different authors define and put pressure on the conceptual components of the phrase “Modern American Poetry.” To do so, we will examine how individual poems engage with notions of history, nation, and literary form as we explore a range of approaches to reading, analyzing, and writing about poetry.

American Poetry since 1945

English 173B / Prof. Bradley

This course offers both a survey of major poets and poetic movements in the United States since World War II and close engagement with the work of a handful of contemporary poets. In the first half of the term, we shall chart the course of American poetry since 1945 so as to establish a common foundation and a sense of the evolving critical, aesthetic, and political concerns of the times. We shall read poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery, Lyn Hejinian, and many others. In the second half of the course, we shall dedicate each week to a book by a living poet. The goal here is to foster a deeper immersion in the work of that poet and a greater appreciation for the craft of composing a sequence of poems. All of these contemporary poets will make virtual visits to our class, which will allow students the opportunity to hear them read and to engage them in discussion. Throughout the term, class meetings will focus on honing different ways of reading poems and writing about them.

 

American Fiction since 1945

English 174B / Prof. Youn

In this course, we will explore a wide range of literary narratives—mainly the novel, but also short story and graphic novel—from 1945 to the present. The main focus of the course is tracing the formal and thematic developments of the novel in the period, paying particular attention to the innovations in the novel’s form to respond to and engage with the social upheavals and transformations in the United States. In the process, students will be able to identify and discuss the themes, concerns, and formal strategies of post-1945 American novels, and situate them within its socio-cultural and historical contexts. Topics of discussion include gender, race, immigrant narrative, technology, environmental issues, and consumerism among others.

Contemporary American Fiction (What’s Happening Now?)

English 174C / Prof. Huehls

 

This course examines recent trends in contemporary American fiction, focusing in particular on the past thirty years of literary output from U.S. novelists. As this literary period is nascent and in constant flux, we’ll be particularly interested in establishing its thematic and formal departures from postmodernism. The class will examine the period’s critique of its postmodern predecessors and will then investigate various themes and techniques that contemporary authors engage to distinguish themselves and their literary moment. Readings include work by Jeffrey Eugenides, Percival Everett, Junot Diaz, and Jennifer Egan.

The Evolution of Anti-racism in Nonfiction Prose and Documentary Film

American Nonfictional Prose
English 175 / Prof. Solomon

 This course will highlight the significant contribution made by writers, visual artists, and filmmakers to the on-going project of anti-racism in U.S. culture. We will trace the development of anti-racist arguments from the late 19th century to the present, examining important essays, speeches, manifestos, exposés, graphic novels, and documentary films that were produced with the explicit intent of challenging the status quo, redefinining notions of community, and – ultimately – bringing about a more perfect union.

American Sex

Interdisciplinary Studies of American Culture
English 177.1 / Prof. Looby

American Sex will be an interdisciplinary exploration of a series of significant episodes in the long and complicated history of American sex. From the secret diary of a Puritan minister, Michael Wigglesworth (1652-57), in which he recorded his sexual transgressions, to the scandalous “bad book affair” in Jonathan Edwards’s congregation (1744), to Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s famous sex scandal (1790s), and on through the nineteenth century, what counted as “sex” constantly changed and what we call “sexuality” gradually emerged. To trace these changes and this emergence we will also study novels and stories by Charles Brockden Brown, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Julia Ward Howe, Sarah Orne Jewett, Margaret Sweat, Walt Whitman and Theodore Winthrop. In addition we will study notorious neoclassical marble sculptures by Hiram Powers (The Greek Slave, 1843), Harriet Hosmer (Zenobia in Chains, 1859), and Benjamin Paul Akers (The Dead Pearl Diver, 1858), as well as a scandalous painting by Thomas Eakins (Swimming, 1885). In each case, we will ask: how did these texts and art works understand and represent the acts, identities, and pleasures that today are collected under the rubric of “sexuality”? American Sex will combine rich primary materials with active reflection on interdisciplinary research methods.

 

Not open for credit to students who took English 177 with Prof. Looby in Spring 2018.

Alice Munro and Writing the Short Story

Topics in Literature, circa 1850 to Present
English 179.1 / Prof. Huneven

This is a class designed for creative writers and other serious students of the short story. Alice Munro redefined what could be accomplished in a short story, and in doing so introduced new literary techniques and pleasures to the genre. Her capacity to render life in small town Ontario—especially the lives of girls and women—with nuance, complexity, and universal appeal earned her the Nobel Prize. We will study 2 or 3 Munro stories a week. Class discussions will arise from student presentations on topics as literary craft, historical context, and sexual politics.

Viral Lit

Topics in Literature, circa 1850 to Present
English 179.2 / Prof. Schmidt

What happens when a song lyric gets stuck in your head? Or when a catchy phrase circulates far beyond its original context? In this course, we will examine how literary authors think about these types of questions in relationship to individual and collective memory. To do so, we will read key representations and examples of textual virality from different genres and different moments in American literary history since 1850. We will explore fiction by Mark Twain, William Saroyan, Ishmael Reed, and Kristen Roupenian; selections from poets such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, T. S. Eliot, Gwendolyn Brooks, Christian Bök, Juliana Spahr, Patricia Lockwood, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, and Rupi Kaur; and theoretical essays by Roman Jakobson, Theodor Adorno, Michel Serres, and Sianne Ngai.

 

Creative Writing Workshops

Admission to all upper-division English Creative Writing workshops is by application ONLY. Please read and follow the posted application instructions carefully.

Creative Writing: Poetry

English 136.1 / Prof. Kevorkian

Course Description:

In this class we consider what is great and wildly various about contemporary poems. In weekly assignments and readings we explore how contemporary poems present, complicate, or undermine any feelings their words imply by using patterns of sound, syntax, word choice, line, and images. The poems you write, read, and discuss each week will experiment with these practices. You also will explore the benefits of reading work aloud. No grades are given during the quarter. Your final assignment—a group of well-considered revisions of your poems—largely contribute to the final grade.

How to Apply:

Send 3-4 poems of your own composition with a brief statement about recent poetry books read and readings attended. Also include information about any poetry workshops or classes in poetry that you’ve taken. Include your 9-digit UID number and your e-mail address.

If applying to both poetry workshops, please indicate the one that works best for you.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION is Friday, MARCH 26, 2021

Submit to both: kkevorkian@humnet.ucla.edu and creativewriting@english.ucla.edu.

In the subject line of your email, include your last name and this course section number, English 136.1 (example: “Johnson 136.1”)

YOUR APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED BY EMAIL AND MUST CONTAIN YOUR LAST NAME AND“136.1” IN THE SUBJECT LINE. YOUR SUBMISSION MAY NOT BE READ IF YOU OMIT THIS TAG IN THE SUBJECT LINE.

Acceptance notifications:

Accepted applicants will be notified by email before the first class meeting.

Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions, the professor will be unable to provide feedback or suggestions on the students’ submitted work.

Creative Writing: Poetry

English 136.2 / Prof. Mullen

Course Description:

In this creative writing workshop, students write original poems, a new poem each week, and post weekly drafts for class discussion. Each student also contributes constructive feedback to fellow writers, and makes an oral presentation on the work of a published poet. Criteria for grading include regular and punctual attendance and completion of assignments, participation in discussion with respectful critique of fellow writers, as well as a final portfolio of revised poems. Enrollment is by instructor consent.

How to Apply:

To apply for enrollment, please submit five poems you have written, along with a brief statement about your interest in reading and writing poetry and your previous experience in literature and creative writing courses. Please include your 9-digit UID number and e-mail address when you send your submission to mullen@humnet.ucla.edu and creativewriting@english.ucla.edu.

If you are applying to more than one workshop and have a preference, please indicate that preference so we can try to accommodate it.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: FRIDAY, MARCH 26, 2021.

In the subject line of your email, include your last name and this course section number: English 136.2 (example: “SMITH 136.2”).

YOUR APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED BY EMAIL AND MUST CONTAIN YOUR LAST NAME AND “136.2” IN THE SUBJECT LINE. YOUR SUBMISSION MAY NOT BE READ IF YOU OMIT THIS TAG IN THE SUBJECT LINE.

Acceptance notifications:

Accepted applicants will be notified by email before the first class meeting.

Due to the volume of submissions, the professor is unable to provide feedback or suggestions regarding the students’ submitted work.

Creative Writing: Short Story

English 137.1 / Prof. Simpson

Course Description:

This is an upper level fiction writing workshop, an intensive course in the close reading and writing of short stories. Students will be asked to write five short stories over the course of the quarter and to revise two of them.

How to Apply:

To be considered for admission, please write a paragraph about how this class could help you and what you would most like to glean from it. Please also include 5-10 pages (double-spaced) of recently written fiction or creative prose, a list of writing classes you’ve taken, your major, your age, and a list of your five favorite writers. Please also tell me about what book you’re reading for pleasure right now. Please submit to monasimpson@mac.com and creativewriting@english.ucla.edu, and include your 9-digit UID number and your e-mail address.

If you are applying to more than one workshop and have a preference, please indicate that preference so we can try to accommodate it.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2021.

In the subject line of your email, include your last name and this course section number: English 137.1 (example: “JACKSON 137.1”). If you forget to include this, it’s unfortunately possible that your submission will become lost in the shuffle.

YOUR APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED BY EMAIL AND MUST CONTAIN YOUR LAST NAME AND “137.1” IN THE SUBJECT LINE. YOUR SUBMISSION MAY NOT BE READ IF YOU OMIT THIS TAG IN THE SUBJECT LINE.

Acceptance notifications:

Accepted applicants will be notified by email before the first class meeting.

Due to the volume of submissions, the professor is unable to provide feedback or suggestions regarding the students’ submitted work.

Creative Writing: Short Story

English 137.2 / Prof. Torres

Course Description:

This class is an intensive workshop on the reading and writing of short fiction. We will consider the short story form, reading great short stories weekly, which students will be asked to study and to reread. Students will write both shorter weekly stories and two longer stories. The teacher’s primary goal in the class is to help the students develop a daily practice of writing and to foster and train their ability to recognize what’s best in their work. We’ll also discuss revision and the development of a sound critical faculty.

How to Apply:

To be considered for the class, please submit five pages (double spaced) of your fiction to jtorres7@ucla.edu and creativewriting@english.ucla.edu. Tell me what workshops you’ve taken in the past, and list your three favorite short stories and their authors. Mention the book you’re reading right now. Include your 9-digit UID number and your e-mail address. If you are applying to more than one workshop and have a preference, please indicate that preference so we can try to accommodate it.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2021.

In the subject line of your email, please include your last name and the course and section number in the subject line (example: “Dahl 137.2”). YOUR APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED BY EMAIL AND MUST CONTAIN YOUR LAST NAME AND “137.2” IN THE SUBJECT LINE. YOUR SUBMISSION MAY NOT BE READ IF YOU OMIT THIS TAG IN THE SUBJECT LINE. Acceptance notifications:

Acceptance Notifications:

Accepted applicants will be notified before the first class meeting. Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions, the professor will be unable to provide feedback or suggestions on the students’ submitted work.

Creative Writing: Short Story

English 137.3 / Prof. Wang

Course Description:

The short story form allows you to write directly to the heart of what is fascinating you—What is making you think, what is aching from you at this very real period in your life. This is a class for students who want to read and write short stories at this very moment.

We will be reading a recently published story each week with focus on the forms and techniques used by the author. The purpose is to expose you to a variety of authors, styles, tones, and subject matters—new possibilities! Short writing exercises will inspire creativity and allow you to experiment.

You are required to write two original stories and give thoughtful feedback to your peers. By doing this you will learn to identify and flex the “literary muscles” that every writer needs.

How to Apply:

Please email me (xuanjuliana@gmail.com and creativewriting@english.ucla.edu) a sample of your short fiction (5- 8 pages, double-spaced) and a note introducing yourself. Tell me what you’re reading and your current creative writing habits. Also, please include your class standing (sophomore, junior, etc.), your 9-digit UID number, and your email address.

If you are applying to more than one workshop and have a preference, please indicate that preference so we can try to accommodate it.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2021.

In the subject line of your email, please include your last name and the course and section number in the subject line (example: “O’Connor 137.3”). YOUR APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED BY EMAIL AND MUST CONTAIN YOUR LAST NAME AND “137.3” IN THE SUBJECT LINE. YOUR SUBMISSION MAY NOT BE READ IF YOU OMIT THIS TAG IN THE SUBJECT LINE. Acceptance notifications:

Acceptance notifications:

Accepted applicants will be notified before the first class meeting. Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions, the professor will be unable to provide feedback or suggestions on the students’ submitted work.

Creative Non-Fiction: Personal Writing

Topics in Creative Writing
English M138.1 / Prof. Allmendinger

Course Description:

 

In this seminar, students will focus on personal writing, including memoir, first-person journalism, autofiction, heteroglossia, and self-translation. Each week, the day before class, students will submit a 2-3 page piece, which we will discuss as a group the following day. In addition, students will be graded on attendance and class participation.

 

How to Apply:

 

Interested students should submit a 250-word personal statement about their writing goals, a list of writing and literature courses taken so far, and a 5-10 page (double spaced) sample of personal writing. Applicants should submit samples to: allmendi@humnet.ucla.edu and creativewriting@english.ucla.edu. Please include your 9-digit UID number and email address.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2021.

In the subject line of your email, please include your last name and the course and section number in the subject line (example: “Vonnegut M138.1”). YOUR APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED BY EMAIL AND MUST CONTAIN YOUR LAST NAME AND “M138.1” IN THE SUBJECT LINE. YOUR SUBMISSION MAY NOT BE READ IF YOU OMIT THIS TAG IN THE SUBJECT LINE.

 

Acceptance notifications:

Accepted applicants will be notified before the first class meeting. Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions, the professor will be unable to provide feedback or suggestions on the students’ submitted work.

 

This course is an eligible non-fiction topic for Professional Writing Minor credit.

 

Creative Writing: Writing About Food

Topics in Creative Writing
English M138.2 / Prof. Huneven

Course Description:

In writing about food, we write about so much more than what’s on a plate, including customs, cultures, family, culinary techniques, cooks, farmers and farming, the environment, restaurants, animal husbandry, markets (local to global), food laws and legislation, and globalization—for starters!

In this class, we will read some classic writing about food and then try our hands at personal essays, reported articles, profiles, recipe writing, and restaurant reviews.

How to Apply:

  1. In 100 words or less tell me why you are interested in writing about food.
  2. Please submit a very short narrative (NO MORE than 2 pages) about a memorable meal OR about a specific food (or dish) that is of some significance to you. I will be looking for how you tell a story based on food.
  3. Please list any writing classes you’ve taken in the past.
  4. Also, please tell me your class standing (sophomore, junior, etc.), include your 9-digit UID number and your email address. Submissions must be e-mailed to huneven@me.com and creativewriting@english.ucla.edu. When e-mailing submissions, please include your last name and the course topic/section number in the subject line:

(example: “Gold FOOD WRITING/M138.2”)

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2021

YOUR APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED BY EMAIL AND MUST CONTAIN YOUR LAST NAME AND “FOOD WRITING/M138.2” IN THE SUBJECT LINE. YOUR SUBMISSION MAY NOT BE READ IF YOU OMIT THIS TAG IN THE SUBJECT LINE. Acceptance notifications:

Acceptance notifications:

Accepted applicants will be notified before the first class meeting. Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions, the professor will be unable to provide feedback or suggestions on the students’ submitted work.

This course is an eligible non-fiction topic for Professional Writing Minor credit.

Creative Writing: Writing Military Experience

Topics in Creative Writing
English M138.3 / Prof. Wilson

This section of M138 will be restricted to student military veterans.

In this workshop course, you will have the opportunity to take ownership of and communicate your service experience through any and all literary forms—creative nonfiction (memoir, fact-based narrative), poetry, prose fiction, and hybrid genres. We will read published examples of such writing, and will work on developing disciplined practice, effective process, and satisfying product.

TO APPLY:

Enrollment is by instructor consent, and PTEs will be issued in the order in which applications are received (until the course is full). If admitted, you must attend the first class. To apply, please write a brief (no more than 250 words) e-mail introducing yourself and your service experience, and explaining why you wish to take this course. Include your name, major, and class level; put your last name and the course number in the subject line (example: “Smith M138”); and send to rwilson@english.ucla.edu.

Creative Writing: Experimental Life Writing

Topics in Creative Writing
English M138.4 / Prof. Calder

In this workshop, we will read and produce texts that re-conceive life writing in collective and more-than-human terms through the use of formal and theoretical experimentation. Texts under consideration will include works by ASCO, Billy Ray-Belcourt, Maurice Blanchot, CAConrad, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Hervé Guibert, Bhanu Kapil, and Claudia Rankine. Participants will complete a series of writing experiments and workshop two of the works produced.

This topic is eligible for credit on the Professional Writing minor

How to Apply:

To be considered for admission, please send 5-10 pages of your writing and a few paragraphs about why you would be a good fit for the workshop to kcalder@ucla.edu and creativewriting@english.ucla.edu. Include your name, 9-digit UID number, and email address.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION:            WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24, 2021.

In the subject line of your email please include your last name and the course and section number in the subject line (example: “Mazer M138.4”).

YOUR APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED BY EMAIL AND MUST CONTAIN YOUR LAST NAME AND “M138.4” IN THE SUBJECT LINE. YOUR SUBMISSION MAY NOT BE READ IF YOU OMIT THIS TAG IN THE SUBJECT LINE.

Acceptance notifications:

Accepted applicants will be notified before the first class meeting.

Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions, the professor will be unable to provide feedback or suggestions on students’ submitted work.

Senior/Capstone Seminars

Graphic Medicine

Topics in Interdisciplinary Studies
English 181B / Prof. Silva

Graphic medicine is a relatively new field that sits at the intersection of art, literature, and healthcare. Analyzing features such as layout, visual imagery, character, and temporality (among others), we will ask how the medium of the graphic novel makes new forms of storytelling accessible to patients and caregivers, and how these in turn shape our understanding of the relation between health and narrative. Please note that the texts for this course include accounts of physical and mental illness, and death.

Observing Affect

Topics in Literature and Languages
English 181C / Prof. Jin

What is involved when we transition from liking, disliking, or otherwise reacting to a cultural text to being “critical” (in a non-negative sense) of that text?  What do these transitions reveal about our own ideological, intellectual, and affective investments, and how?  And finally, how might we connect this particular form of self-reflection, or navel-gazing, with thinking about broader social and historical relations?  This seminar will explore these questions by examining primary works that stage, in various ways, the rhetorics, techniques, and representational strategies involved in observing emotions (our own and others’) and marking those emotions as social observations.  These works may include novels by Colson Whitehead, Hilary Leichter, and Rachel Cusk, science fiction short stories by Ted Chiang and Katherine MacLean, and episodes of the Japanese reality television series Terrace House.  In order to track the (often confusing but lived) logics of reflexivity and paradox that attend such strategies, we will also engage with secondary work by scholars like Niklas Luhmann, Dorinne Kondo, and Sarah Ahmed.  Assignments may include weekly questions, a shorter 4-5 page “close reading” paper, and a longer 10-12 page research paper.

Shakespeare’s Two Tetralogies

Topics in Renaissance and Early Modern Literature
English 182B / Prof. McEachern

We will study, in chronological order, Shakespeare’s two sequences of history plays, with particular attention to the representation of political process, the role of language in the construction of power, modes of historical causality, and the role of character in the construction of historical representation.

Experiments with Nonfiction

Topics in 20th and 21st-Century Literature
English 182F.4 / Prof. Schmidt

The central goal of this seminar will be to explore the distinction between literature and nonfiction in post-1945 writing from both directions. To do so, we will read texts categorized as poetry and fiction that expressly incorporate documents and other signifiers of journalism, history, or research as well as a handful of essays that incorporate materials and approaches frequently associated with the literary as such. The backbone of the course will be a collective project: an attempt to isolate, name, and analyze specific techniques writers use to blur the literature/journalism or fiction/nonfiction distinction. Students will complete regular short writing assignments as well as a longer final project, which may be either an academic essay examining one of the authors we have read or an experimental essay using techniques we have described.Over the quarter, we will read a few examples of literary criticism to situate our central questions, but our focus will be “primary” texts by at least a handful the following authors: Joe Brainard, Gwendolyn Brooks, Teju Cole, John D’Agata, Joan Didion, Eve Ewing, Otto Friedrich, Diana Hamilton, Kiese Laymon, Tao Lin, Valeria Luiselli, Maggie Nelson, Claudia Rankine, Srikanth Reddy, Muriel Rukeyser, Elaine Scarry, Elizabeth Schambelan, Ali Smith, Juliana Spahr, William Carlos Williams.

 

Enrollment in this seminar will be restricted to American Literature and Culture majors during first pass, and will open up to English majors during second pass.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Topics in 19th Century American Literature
English 183B.1 / Prof. Colacurcio

With some interest in the biography, we will attempt to trace Hawthorne’s developing career: from the obscurity of Salem in the 1820’s and early 30’s, when he wrote, anonymously, some the most brilliant historical tales in the language; through the more sociable “Concord Period” (1842-45), when his attention turned to the liberal and transcendental reforms of his own agitated age; to that so-called “Major Phase” in which he wrote his three American Romances in just under three years. Emphasis at first on response to historical (Puritan) sources, then on the attempt to tell the history of his own time.No final exam. Course assumes perfect, punctual attendance, careful preparation, two in-class presentations on an assigned topic, and a critical/analytical paper of 12-15 pages–which must enter into significant conversation with published criticism.

Enrollment in this seminar will be restricted to American Literature and Culture majors during first pass, and will open up to English majors during second pass.

Literature of the Beat Generation

Topics in 20th and 21st Century American Literature
English 183C.1 / Prof. Dickey

This course will explore the Beat phenomenon in its historical and cultural moment and will locate Beat literature in the tradition of American Romantic writing. We will concentrate on works by William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac, paying some attention to other figures like Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, whose lives and works in some way confront and contest the pedestrian values of 1950s America (and after). We will also investigate the aesthetic principles that the Beats appropriated from diverse modernist and contemporary sources – Dada and Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Bebop – in order to ratify their own contrivances of spontaneity. And finally, we will consider predecessors (e.g. James Fenimore Cooper, Walt Whitman, Henry Miller) and inheritors (e.g., Ken Kesey, Sam Shepard, Hunter S. Thompson) whose works illuminate the achievement, or fried shoes, of the Beats.

 

Enrollment in this seminar will be restricted to American Literature and Culture majors during first pass, and will open up to English majors during second pass.

Rhyme + Reason: Lyrical Traditions and Political Activism in Hip Hop Culture, 1970s – present

Topics in 20th and 21st Century American Literature
English 183C.2 / Prof. Solomon

In its brief 50 year existence, Rap music has grown from an idiosyncratic expression of postmodern art that was practiced by just a handful of MCs in New York into a global phenomenon; currently, it is both the most dynamic driver of contemporary poetic expression in almost every language tradition around the world and the dominant genre within the commercial music industry. Scholars in the Humanities really only began paying attention to Hip Hop culture in a serious way about 15 years ago, but there is now a growing body of insightful work being produced, with academic journals dedicated to the study, and increasing interest in “Hip Hop Studies” coalescing across a number of traditional academic disciplines.

In this seminar, we’ll draw from the recent body of scholarly and critical work to inform our examination of a number of significant albums produced from 1970 to the present, focusing particular attention on the lyrical movements that influenced the art and the traditions of social activism in Hip Hop culture that the music often serves to highlight.

Enrollment in this seminar will be restricted to American Literature and Culture majors during first pass, and will open up to English majors during second pass.

Our So-Called Present: Studies in Very Recent Contemporary U.S. Fiction

Capstone Seminar
English 184.1 / Prof. Huehls

How do we turn our experiences in the present into a conception of the present? This course will read U.S. fiction written in the past five years, with half of the texts chosen by the students, in an attempt to answer that question.

 

Enrollment in this seminar will be restricted to American Literature and Culture majors during first pass, and will open up to English majors during second pass.

The Brontës in Context

Capstone Seminar
English 184.2 / Prof. Stephan

The unlikely story of the three Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, has fascinated scholars and general readers alike—how could it be that not one or two but three authors whose works would live on after their untimely deaths could emerge from a single family in an isolated Yorkshire village? Indeed, the legend of the Brontës is always in danger of eclipsing the works themselves. In this capstone seminar, we will read Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), and Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848). We will consider these novels in their social, historical, and artistic contexts, examining each through a variety of critical lenses, and will discuss how the mystique of the Brontë family story and its r/Romantic backdrop has shaped our expectations as 21st-century readers of these novels.

Dreams, Apparitions, and Visions in Medieval Literature

Capstone Seminar
English 184.3 / Prof. Thomas

Dreams, visions and apparitions are constitutive of medieval literature writ large. They are ubiquitous in hagiographical writings, academic commentaries, theological treatises and poetic compositions. They often inaugurate treatises and tales, raise expectations, fulfill or even frustrate audience expectations. Wherever they occur, they offer a space for thinking through the relations between the real and the visionary, between the historical and the fantastic, between the empirically verifiable and the spiritually valuable, between medieval discourses or disciplines including rhetoric, history, law, and theology. In this course, we will explore dreams, visions and apparitions in texts ranging from the “lives” of holy women and men (such as the semi-autobiographical The Passion of St. Perpetua and Felicity, the anonymous biography of the bride Christina of Markyate, and Eadmer’s Life of Anselm) to the great poetic works of Chaucer (The Parlement of Foules, The House of Fame, The Canterbury Tales), Gower (Confessio amantis) and Langland (Piers Plowman). Our focus will be on the ways in which writers handle dream experiences not just for their content but also their form. We will read fictional compositions framed by dreams, visions and apparitions alongside relevant dream theories/commentaries such as Macrobius’s influential Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, glosses to his commentary and Augustine’s Literal commentary on Genesis.

The Novel and the Programmed World

Capstone Seminar
English 184.4 / Prof. Youn

We are living in the age of digital technology. With search engines, social media, internet commerce, and smart apps for every segment of your life, everything is connected—we are told—and algorithmized. What changes does this technological reconfiguration bring in the way we live, work, and experience the world? Does it make us freer, or even more constrained? How does the capital guide and utilize these digital innovations? How does the novel, as a genre co-emerged with capitalism and technological advances, respond to this new environment? In this course, we will look at contemporary novels (with some films and short stories) that critically engage with such questions. Readings will include novels by Jennifer Egan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Tom McCarthy, Hilary Leichter, and Sayaka Murata.

“Mediocrity Rules”: The Nonexceptional in Contemporary Asian American Literature

Topics in Asian American Literature
English M191C / Prof. S.K. Lee

In the New York Times, author Viet Thanh Nguyen writes that what Asian Americans need is “an economy of narrative plenitude,” where a film like Crazy Rich Asians (2018) is not a singular, exceptional, good, or bad representation of Asian Americans, but instead one among many that are “mediocre.” For Nguyen, mediocrity is sign of abundance and a “measure of equality.” But what if we stay with the mediocre as decidedly not a measure of equality, normalization, inclusion, assimilation, and success? What if rather than proof of plenitude, we understood mediocrity as a strategic mode of withdrawal, disaffection, inscrutability, refusal, and failure? How can we orient ourselves differently to narratives and representations of mediocrity and the unexceptional? In this course, students will read contemporary Asian American literature by authors such as Anelise Chen, Yiyun Li, and Ling Ma alongside scholarship in Asian American studies, feminist theory, and queer theory to critically consider the Asian American uses of the mediocre and the nonexceptional.

Enrollment in this seminar will be restricted to American Literature and Culture majors during first pass, and will open up to English majors during second pass.

Defining Asian American Reality through Literature

Topics in Asian-American Literature
English M191C.2 / Prof. Ling

This seminar approaches Asian American history, identity, and social experience through the artistic lens of Asian American literature. The range of writings to examine in the class— the novel, short story, speculative fiction, novella, play, and literary manifesto—spans almost the entire twentieth century (from 1909 to 1996). Of the issues to explore are immigration, racialization, intercultural or generational dynamic, the paradox of assimilation, war-related trauma, and gendered concerns. Our discussions will focus on making sense of texts in contexts, with an emphasis on how literary portrayal of the evolving conditions facing Asian Americans is shaped by the interplay between writers’ aspirations for a more equitable society, the less-than-ideal creative environments available to them, and their resourceful negotiations with these circumstantial constraints. This seminar is not restricted in the size of its enrollment. Graded work is based on the following: 1) attendance (5%); 2) an in-class oral presentation (15%); 3) a midterm paper of 4 double-spaced pages (30%); and 4) a course paper of 10 double-space pages (50%).

 

Enrollment in this seminar will be restricted to American Literature and Culture majors during first pass, and will open up to English majors during second pass.

Graduate Courses Open to Advanced Undergraduates for Seminar Credit

 

Theories of Diaspora

Literary Theory
English M270 / Prof. Sharpe

This course examines the emergence of diaspora theories during the 1990s, when the term was expanded beyond its classical usage for Greek, Jewish, and Armenian dispersion to include a wide range of migrations, displacements, and traumatic histories. We will consider how “diaspora” is used to address specific histories of genocide, slavery, indenture, and colonialism, and how these histories intersect with current conditions of transnationalism, cosmopolitanism, and globalization. What relationships do diasporic identities have to national ones and what are the stakes of claiming one over the other? What role do “the imaginary” and “lived experience” play in the formation of diasporic identities? How is the idea of homeland, which is central to diaspora theories, complicated through considerations of borderlands, translation, and indigeneity? How do feminist and queer approaches to diaspora introduce intimate and affective relations that are overlooked or rendered invisible in dominant theories? In what ways does “the diasporic” express a postmodern condition? These questions will be addressed through readings that include Homi Bhabha, Judith Butler, Rey Chow, James Clifford, Arif Dirlik, Brent Hayes Edwards, Paul Gilroy, Gayatri Gopinath, Stuart Hall, Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, Rafael Pérez-Torres, and Sau-ling C. Wong, among others. For the 2020 entering cohort, this course meets the genre/theory/methods breadth requirement.

Graduate students from other departments and campuses are welcome, as well as advanced undergraduates, with the instructor’s pre-approval.