CoursesCourses for the American Literature & Culture 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

Fall 2018

The course distribution reflected on this page applies to American Literature and Culture majors whose declared major term is Fall 2018 or later. If you declared the American Literature and Culture major prior to Fall 2018, please consult with a Department of English undergraduate advisor when selecting major courses.

Lower Division Courses in English (Freshman, Sophomore)

Please note that these courses are intended as preparation for the major in American Literature and Culture. Limited space may be available for students wishing to take these courses for GE or Diversity credit.

Introduction to American Cultures

English 11 / Prof. Goyal

This course serves as a gateway to the American Literature and Culture major, examining the contested meaning of “America” itself as a national ideal, a diverse society, and a locus of cultural production.  We will place a special emphasis on questions of identity, belonging, borders, and movement, exploring the significance of national boundaries, regional alliances, and transnational flows of people, capital, and culture. By situating the study of U.S. culture in a transnational and interdisciplinary context, the course encourages students to think broadly and rigorously about the varied meanings of nationhood and citizenship.  Readings will focus on origins (the making of the nation and the Americas, including indigeneity, settler colonialism, property, war, religion, suffrage, slavery and abolition), identities (narratives about places, communities, and environments, including cities, suburbs, borders, oceans, ecosystems, prisons,), and media (the creative process as it manifests itself in aesthetic forms, artistic movements and information systems).

Latinidades

Topics in American Cultures
English 87 / Prof. López

Latino or Latinx? Chicano or Mexican American? Hispanic? What’s the difference?  Which word is the right word, and why should you care anyway? We’ll tackle all those questions and more in this seminar as we explore the literature and cultural production of latinidad. We’ll read Chilean memoirs of the California gold rush, diaries of 19th century Mexican soldiers patrolling the US-Mexico border, and more contemporary works like The Tattooed Soldier, Hector Tobar’s novel about refugees from the Guatemalan civil war set during the 1992 LA riots. We’ll also consider non-literary texts like music, photography, archives, and political protests. By the end of the quarter you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the historic and constitutive role latinidad has played in the founding and evolution of the United States. Plus, you’ll have smart, interesting things to say about the racial ambiguities of someone like Cardi B. Why should we care if she’s Dominican? Figure it all out in “English 87: Latinidades”!

Upper Division Courses in English

Courses that meet the American Literature and Culture major requirement for pre-1848 material are marked with an asterisk.

ORIGINS – Beginnings, Events, and Trajectories

 

The Intimacy of Queer Life in Early Queer Literature

Queer Literatures and Cultures, 1850 to 1970
English M101B / Prof. Little

From the elegiac and tragic to the comic, this course begins with Walt Whitman and ends (most likely) with lesbian pulp fiction. The course surveys not only some of the most groundbreaking queer texts—novels, poems, plays (sometimes in the form of film)—written between 1860 and the late 1960s but also the intriguing personalities/authors behind so many of them. Our course attends to how this literature and these personages resisted systemic efforts to disappear, silence, and erase queer bodies, voices, and subjectivities. Without resorting to autobiography (at least in any straightforward sense), the queer literature produced during this period makes emphatically evident the intimate relationship between life and narrative: importantly, literature in this era was far less a way of reporting on one’s life than a way of laying claim to one. Queer literature was indeed a way to demonstrate and perform the fact that queer folk, like non-queer folk, had intimate lives. This course serves as a literary and cultural introduction to the period under consideration as well as to some of the ideas that have come to shape our own contemporary queer epistemologies and sensibilities.

Historical Survey of Asian American Literature

English M102A / Prof. Ling

This course examines a body of Asian American literary works—autobiography, memoir, the novel, non-fiction, short story, and drama—which represents Asians’ experiences in the U.S. during the pre-1980 period (some of these works were published after 1980). Issues to look at include immigration, exclusion, cross-cultural or interethnic encounters, generational conflict, racialization, and race, gender, and class formations. Lectures and discussions will focus on making sense of texts in contexts, with an emphasis on how the narrative voices, thematic concerns, and formal properties of the works examined are shaped by the interplay between authorial aspirations, circumstantial constraints, and readerly expectations.

Early African American Literature

English M104A / Prof. Yarborough

Survey of African American literature from the 18th century to World War I, including oral and written forms (folktales, spirituals, sermons; fiction, autobiography, poetry). Authors covered include Phillis Wheatley, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Frances Harper, and W. E. B. Du Bois.  The class will focus on the historical and cultural contexts of the literary works as well as on diverse strategies for engaging formal aspects of the assigned materials. Requirements include attendance and participation in section, a midterm exam, a term paper, and a final exam.

Colonial Beginnings of American Literature*

English 166A / Prof. Colacurcio

Historical survey of American literatures of discovery and exploration, contact, and settlement, with emphasis on genres that express distinctive colonial identities, myths, and religious visions.

American Poetry to 1900

English 167A / Prof. Cohen

This course will survey the history of American poetry from the Puritan era to the turn of the twentieth century. We will read the poetry of major authors like Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe and others, and we will study the poetry of major events and movements, like the poetry of antislavery and the poetry of the Civil War. Students will have the opportunity to create final projects based on original library research, as well as creative writing.

American Fiction to 1900

English 167B / Prof. Salway

Lecture, four hours; discussion, one hour (when scheduled). Enforced requisites: courses 10A, 10B. Study of American fiction (both novels and short stories) from its beginning to end of 19th century. P/NP or letter grading.

American Literature, 1865 to 1900

English 170A / Prof. Salway

Lecture, four hours; discussion, one hour (when scheduled). Enforced requisites: courses 10A, 10B, 10C. 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. P/NP or letter grading.

IDENTITIES – Places, Communities, and Environments

 

The Intimacy of Queer Life in Early Queer Literature

Queer Literatures and Cultures, 1850 to 1970
English M101B / Prof. Little

From the elegiac and tragic to the comic, this course begins with Walt Whitman and ends (most likely) with lesbian pulp fiction. The course surveys not only some of the most groundbreaking queer texts—novels, poems, plays (sometimes in the form of film)—written between 1860 and the late 1960s but also the intriguing personalities/authors behind so many of them. Our course attends to how this literature and these personages resisted systemic efforts to disappear, silence, and erase queer bodies, voices, and subjectivities. Without resorting to autobiography (at least in any straightforward sense), the queer literature produced during this period makes emphatically evident the intimate relationship between life and narrative: importantly, literature in this era was far less a way of reporting on one’s life than a way of laying claim to one.  Queer literature was indeed a way to demonstrate and perform the fact that queer folk, like non-queer folk, had intimate lives. This course serves as a literary and cultural introduction to the period under consideration as well as to some of the ideas that have come to shape our own contemporary queer epistemologies and sensibilities.

Historical Survey of Asian American Literature

English M102A / Prof. Ling

This course examines a body of Asian American literary works—autobiography, memoir, the novel, non-fiction, short story, and drama—which represents Asians’ experiences in the U.S. during the pre-1980 period (some of these works were published after 1980). Issues to look at include immigration, exclusion, cross-cultural or interethnic encounters, generational conflict, racialization, and race, gender, and class formations. Lectures and discussions will focus on making sense of texts in contexts, with an emphasis on how the narrative voices, thematic concerns, and formal properties of the works examined are shaped by the interplay between authorial aspirations, circumstantial constraints, and readerly expectations.

Early African American Literature

English M104A / Prof. Yarborough

Survey of African American literature from the 18th century to World War I, including oral and written forms (folktales, spirituals, sermons; fiction, autobiography, poetry). Authors covered include Phillis Wheatley, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Frances Harper, and W. E. B. Du Bois.  The class will focus on the historical and cultural contexts of the literary works as well as on diverse strategies for engaging formal aspects of the assigned materials. Requirements include attendance and participation in section, a midterm exam, a term paper, and a final exam.

Early Chicana/Chicano Literature, 1400 to 1920*

English M105A / Prof. López

What is early Chicana/o literature? Does it look like later Chicana/o literature? What does “Chicana/o” mean anyway? We will tackle these questions and more this quarter, beginning with how we might think about Pre-Columbian and colonial Mexican literature as Chicana/o. We will explore how Mexican and U.S. history inform each other during the 19th century, asking why their conflicts form the basis of contemporary Chicana/o identity. We end with the Mexican Revolution, which brings increased migration north, as well as the full-scale proletarianization and racialization of Mexicans in the United States. By the end of the quarter you will have a basic understanding of the historical forces shaping Chicana/o culture, the literary ways in which Chicanas/os have responded to these forces, and a solid grounding for further courses in Chicana/o Studies.

Introduction to Latina/Latino Literature

English M105D / Prof. Medrano

This course will introduce students to some of the major critical trends present in Latina/Latino Studies. Discussion will focus on the construction of identity in terms of race, gender, sexuality, and class; bilingualism and code-switching; the experiences of the exile, the immigrant, the refugee and the colonial subject.  Emphasis will be placed on the concept of mestizaje and its impact on cultural production, how the texts offer representations of how mixed-race bodies function as sites of knowledge, and the relationship between race and performance.  Texts will include works from writers such as Maria Cristina Mena, Sandra Cisneros, Gloria Anzaldúa, Mayra Montero.

American Women Writers: History, Culture, and Creativity

Studies in Women’s Writing
English M107A / Prof. Rowe

How do women write their bodies, their selves? “American Women Writers: History, Culture, and Creativity” traces the evolution of women’s writing from mid-19th to late 20th-  century America. Texts examine issues of self-identity; matrilineal ancestral heritages; sexual passion; suitors, husbands, wives, lovers; the ideology of domesticity and of feminism; and artistic ways women imagine themselves as historical, political, ethnic, and erotic subjects. Whether it’s a short story, poem, journalistic essay, novel or an autobiography, biomythography, cuentos, or historia, we read Alcott, Jacobs, Chopin, Gilman, Walker, Cisneros, Yamamoto, Viramontes, Marshall, Anzaldúa, and Kingston. How do women’s different ethnic cultures shape their lives and writing? This course offers increasingly sophisticated ways to read texts and to understand the diversity of women’s self-expression. All women need a voice and choice, as we seek in and though literary art to discover and articulate a vibrant sense of new selves, new lives, new muses.

Interracial Encounters in Asian American Fiction

Interracial Encounters
English 108 / Prof. Cheung

This course focuses on the depiction of national and transnational interracial encounters: coalition and antagonism, gay and straight liaison, loyalty and espionage. Besides seeing literature as mirroring society, we will think critically about how literature can depict racial relations in a much more nuanced way than in history and social sciences, how it can offer a unique access to sociological questions and unsettle chauvinism, binary notions of race, and heteronormativity.

Evaluation: a 4-6 page personal essay (30%), group presentation (20%), attendance and participation (15%), an 6-8-page paper (35%). No mid-term or final exam.

Texts:

Marilyn Chin, Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen 978-0393331455

David Henry Hwang, Chinglish 978-1559364102

Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth 978-0307278258

Min Jin Lee, Pachinko 978-1455563920

Russell Leong, “Phoenix Eyes” and Other Stories 978-0295979458

Sabina Murray, Tales of the New World 978-0802170835

Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You 978-0143127550

Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Refugees 

U.S. Literature After the Sexual Binary

Topics in Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
English 109 / Prof. Clark

According to philosopher Michel Foucault, the modern sexual binary emerged in the late-nineteenth century when medical and legal discourses began to identify permitted sexual behavior and its opposite. This course explores the aftermath in U.S. literature from Herman Melville, Willa Cather, James Baldwin, and Chris Krauss, among others. The objective is to trace how fiction conceived of sexual identification and marginalization; it is also to investigate how sex and other categories of marginalization, especially race and gender, intersected. Viewing normative sexuality as a relatively recent conceptual phenomenon, we explore how authors reinforced or critiqued normativity’s domination, as well as how sexuality interacts with other forms of bias, discrimination, and othering that have limited U.S. theories of equality.  Alongside Foucault, the class will incorporate readings about sexuality from the period of each of the texts to historicize how they interacted with contemporaneous discourses around sexual expression and deviance.

Literature of California and American West

English 117 / Prof. Allmendinger

This course surveys the history of California literature, beginning in the Mission era, continuing through the Gold Rush and into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, focusing on works about Hollywood, California during WW II, the ‘60s, and works related to the Watts Rebellion and the 1992 LA Uprising.  Students will also study other disciplines in addition to literature, including California art and architecture, music, and history. Requirements include one 7-10 page paper and an in-class midterm and final.

20th Century American Drama: Allegories of the Possible

American Drama
English 172C / Prof. Stefans

American theater in the period starting after the end of World War I through the McCarthy Era and the turmoil of the 60s, was one of extraordinary experimentation in the content of the plays, the formal elements in their structure, and the manner in which they were presented. Writers experimented with absurdism, non-linear narratives, expressionism, the “alienation” effect and collapsing the distance between “high” art (such as operas) and popular song.

Langston Hughes explored the interpersonal politics of race, Lillian Hellman the ostracization of same-sex couples, Elmer Rice and Clifford Odets the despair of the worker in a time of rapid industrialization. Eugene O’Neil’s combined expressionist and realist tendencies with a singular intensity. The highly experimental Thornton Wilder, most responsible for what has come to be known as the “theater of images,” and Tennessee Williams, who explored the intersection of creativity and extreme psychological states in an intimate, tragic manner, were major figures of this time.

After the end of World War II, writers such as Arthur Miller, Edward Albee and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) explored the intense level of suspicion in hypocrisy in the years of the trials conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) under the stewardship of Senator Eugene McCarthy (and before whom several of the playwrights of this period — especially after they started to write for Hollywood — were brought). Writers such as Paula Vogel, David Henry Hwang and the Cuban-born Maria Irene Fornes continued to use to the theater as a way of negotiating social issues while experimenting with the form.

While this is technically a lecture course, some of the assignments will stress an actor-centered approach to the texts, meaning that we will not merely read them as literature (as one might a novel or play) but also strive to discover ways to perform the dialogue, to animate the scene between two or more actors, and even to stage a few scenes in class. Naturally, students are not expected to be actors or to act, merely to explore the sonic possibilities of the text as spoken. Students are also expected to write a short mid-term paper, a longer final paper, short feedback paragraphs.

Title TBA

Contemporary American Poetry
English 173C / Prof. Mullen

Description TBA.

Architecture and Feelings in Contemporary Literature

Contemporary American Fiction
English 174C / Prof. Underwood

This class will consider how images of architecture are rendered in Contemporary American Literature. We will ask questions such as:  How does architecture evoke feelings in a text? Do all characters react in similar ways to architectural structures? How are we meant to interpret a character’s reactions to a specific building? The novels that we will read may include: Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist, Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress, Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, and Octavia Butler’s Kindred.

Protest, Rebellion and Non-Conformity in Post WWII
American Film and Fiction, 1945-1967

Interdisciplinary Studies of American Culture
English 177 / Prof. Solomon

This course examines the work of rebellious novelists, painters, poets, filmmakers, and all-around troublemakers who questioned authority in post-WWII America. The era of mass deprivation in the U.S. that began with the Great Depression of 1929-39 came to an abrupt end with the conclusion of WWII in 1945, but the almost mythic prosperity enjoyed by the “Baby Boom” generation of the late-1940s through the mid-1960s was distributed unevenly throughout U.S. society, and access to better jobs and housing was all but denied to unmarried women, ethnic minorities, and left-wing political activists; indeed, even for those who were allowed access to this new social mobility in post WWII America, the price was a crushing social conformity that dictated acceptable moral behavior and policed social actions.  The artists we examine in this course question the fundamental assumptions of that social conformity, challenging the restrictions placed upon personal behavior, and asserting the value of authentic human experience in all its diversity — and in so doing, they blazed a trail for subsequent generations of social activists, and they helped lay the foundation for the widespread social protests movements of the 1960s and 1970s that would radically alter the social landscape of 20th century America.

MEDIA – Aesthetics, Genres, and Technologies

 

Totalities in American Literature and Film

Keywords in Theory
English 122 / Prof. Mehlman

How do works of literature and film go about trying to represent the whole of something or include it within themselves—society, history, the world, the galaxy, the beginning and end of time? Is this even possible, given the limitations of narrative form and the difficulties 20th and 21st century writers and critics have had conceptualizing totality? Our journey will take us through galactic rural towns, the feverish mappings of conspiracy theory, zombie apocalypses, and frozen corporate dreamscapes. We will consider the literary work of Sarah Orne Jewett, Willa Cather, Stanislaw Lem, and Max Brooks, among others. Our theoretical interlocutors will include George Lukács, Walter Benjamin, Fredric Jameson, and Niklas Luhmann, among others. We will also work with a couple of films. Our purpose will be twofold: to explore different theoretical models for thinking about totalities, and to explore the ways in which literary and cinematic works try (and perhaps fail) to include worlds within themselves.

Religious Literature in a Post-Secular Context

Theories of Religion
English 124 / Prof. Hedlin

This course explores the school of literary theory known as post-secularism. Post-secularism challenges the assumption (held by many twentieth-century critics) that contemporary literature is no longer “religious” and that “secularism” is a neutral, enlightened, and thus properly academic position from which to conduct literary analysis. This course will introduce students to post-secularism by asking a number of questions: What is “secularity,” and what assumptions are attached to a term like “secular literature”? How has the field of literary studies defined itself in relation to religion? How has the function of religious literature changed in our “post-secular” world? In addition to reading the work of post-secular theorists, we will put contemporary poetry, drama, and prose in conversation with the religious literature of the English Renaissance, a time when cataclysmic shifts in religious organization arguably jumpstarted the “secularization” of western Christendom.

American Poetry to 1900

English 167A / Prof. Cohen

This course will survey the history of American poetry from the Puritan era to the turn of the twentieth century. We will read the poetry of major authors like Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe and others, and we will study the poetry of major events and movements, like the poetry of antislavery and the poetry of the Civil War. Students will have the opportunity to create final projects based on original library research, as well as creative writing.

American Fiction to 1900

English 167B / Prof. Salway

Lecture, four hours; discussion, one hour (when scheduled). Enforced requisites: courses 10A, 10B. Study of American fiction (both novels and short stories) from its beginning to end of 19th century. P/NP or letter grading.

American Literature, 1865 to 1900

English 170A / Prof. Salway

Lecture, four hours; discussion, one hour (when scheduled). Enforced requisites: courses 10A, 10B, 10C. 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. P/NP or letter grading.

20th Century American Drama: Allegories of the Possible

American Drama
English 172C / Prof. Stefans

American theater in the period starting after the end of World War I through the McCarthy Era and the turmoil of the 60s, was one of extraordinary experimentation in the content of the plays, the formal elements in their structure, and the manner in which they were presented. Writers experimented with absurdism, non-linear narratives, expressionism, the “alienation” effect and collapsing the distance between “high” art (such as operas) and popular song.

Langston Hughes explored the interpersonal politics of race, Lillian Hellman the ostracization of same-sex couples, Elmer Rice and Clifford Odets the despair of the worker in a time of rapid industrialization. Eugene O’Neil’s combined expressionist and realist tendencies with a singular intensity. The highly experimental Thornton Wilder, most responsible for what has come to be known as the “theater of images,” and Tennessee Williams, who explored the intersection of creativity and extreme psychological states in an intimate, tragic manner, were major figures of this time.

After the end of World War II, writers such as Arthur Miller, Edward Albee and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) explored the intense level of suspicion in hypocrisy in the years of the trials conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) under the stewardship of Senator Eugene McCarthy (and before whom several of the playwrights of this period — especially after they started to write for Hollywood — were brought). Writers such as Paula Vogel, David Henry Hwang and the Cuban-born Maria Irene Fornes continued to use to the theater as a way of negotiating social issues while experimenting with the form.

While this is technically a lecture course, some of the assignments will stress an actor-centered approach to the texts, meaning that we will not merely read them as literature (as one might a novel or play) but also strive to discover ways to perform the dialogue, to animate the scene between two or more actors, and even to stage a few scenes in class. Naturally, students are not expected to be actors or to act, merely to explore the sonic possibilities of the text as spoken. Students are also expected to write a short mid-term paper, a longer final paper, short feedback paragraphs.

Title TBA

Contemporary American Poetry
English 173C / Prof. Mullen

Description TBA.

Architecture and Feelings in Contemporary Literature

Contemporary American Fiction
English 174C / Prof. Underwood

This class will consider how images of architecture are rendered in Contemporary American Literature. We will ask questions such as:  How does architecture evoke feelings in a text? Do all characters react in similar ways to architectural structures? How are we meant to interpret a character’s reactions to a specific building? The novels that we will read may include: Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist, Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress, Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, and Octavia Butler’s Kindred.

Protest, Rebellion and Non-Conformity in Post WWII
American Film and Fiction, 1945-1967

Interdisciplinary Studies of American Culture
English 177 / Prof. Solomon

This course examines the work of rebellious novelists, painters, poets, filmmakers, and all-around troublemakers who questioned authority in post-WWII America. The era of mass deprivation in the U.S. that began with the Great Depression of 1929-39 came to an abrupt end with the conclusion of WWII in 1945, but the almost mythic prosperity enjoyed by the “Baby Boom” generation of the late-1940s through the mid-1960s was distributed unevenly throughout U.S. society, and access to better jobs and housing was all but denied to unmarried women, ethnic minorities, and left-wing political activists; indeed, even for those who were allowed access to this new social mobility in post WWII America, the price was a crushing social conformity that dictated acceptable moral behavior and policed social actions.  The artists we examine in this course question the fundamental assumptions of that social conformity, challenging the restrictions placed upon personal behavior, and asserting the value of authentic human experience in all its diversity — and in so doing, they blazed a trail for subsequent generations of social activists, and they helped lay the foundation for the widespread social protests movements of the 1960s and 1970s that would radically alter the social landscape of 20th century America.

Senior Seminars

Immigrant Stories: Literary and Cinematic

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

This course examines literary and cinematic representations of the immigrant experience in order to explore the relationship between artistic expression and national belonging. We survey varying contexts for life in the old country, reasons for emigration, immigrants’ reactions to the U.S. and America’s reaction to its immigrants. Changing attitudes toward the individual, family, class mobility, gender roles, sexuality, and racial difference will be considered in relation to the lure of melting pot assimilation and the persistence of ethnic identity. We analyze novels and films as distinct mediums even as we study their affinities, such as an impulse toward narrative storytelling. Among our movies, one is from the silent era (Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant) and others include English subtitles for foreign language scenes (America AmericaThe Godfather, Sin Nombre). Of our novels, one is a wordless story of sequenced, illustrated panels (The Arrival) while others can be characterized as loquacious (Call It Sleep, The Woman Warrior, Middlesex).

Narrating the 1960s:  Creative Nonfiction in an Age of Electronic Media

Capstone Seminar
English 184.1 / Prof. Decker

This course examines the 1960’s literary movement called New Journalism and the culture that gave rise to it. We read the most celebrated New Journalists of the period––Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and Hunter Thompson––to consider how they use their talents as non-fiction novelists to respond to unsettling changes in mass media and society at large. We address the following kinds of questions. How can an older (print) form like the novel compete for the attention of consumers within a new mediascape brought about by the proliferation of film and TV? Is the New Journalist’s non-fiction narrative mode up to the task of representing a reality––political assassinations, civil rights protests, sexual revolution, psychedelic drugs, Vietnam War, Watergate––that threatens to outstrip the writer’s imagination?Reading includes: In Cold BloodElectric Kool-Aid Acid TestWhite AlbumDispatchesFear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Documentary films: Rush to JudgmentMedium CoolHearts and Minds. TV news coverage from the Watts riots to the moon walk.

Toni Morrison’s Literary Trilogy

Topics in African American Literature
English M191A / Prof. Streeter

This seminar focuses on Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison’s novels Beloved (1987) Jazz(1992) and Paradise (1998), works the author has described as a trilogy. Spanning a century, Beloved represents African American life during and immediately after slavery, Jazz is set during the 1920s Jazz Age, and Paradise during the ambiguous, transitional decade of the 1970s. We will also read Morrison’s first novel The BluestEye (1970), and her most recent, 2015’s God Help the Child, along with selected critical essays.

Contemporary Asian American Short Fiction

Topics in Asian American Literature
English M191C.1 / Prof. Ling

This course examines selected Asian American short fictions (including novellas) produced from the pre-WWII period to the present. We will close-read these Asian American texts and consider their subject matters, writing techniques, and social implications. The reading assignments are designed with an eye to their readability, artistic sophistication, and coverage of Asian American experiences. Although a common theme is used to organize each week’s reading, such grouping together of diverse literary articulations is tentative. The larger goal is to invite students to unpack and re-articulate the meaning and significance of the material examined beyond given boundaries, categories, or paradigms.

Asian American Poetry

Topics in Asian American Literature
English M191C.2 / Prof. Banerjee

This Asian American Poetry workshop will introduce students to the craft elements of poetry— line break, forms, poetic traditions and ideas—along with critical work about Asian American poetry and literature. The class will read published work and critical essays from Asian American authors, and experiment with their own writing. Students will also critique each other’s work in a community setting, organize a reading, and present on a current Asian American or poet of color. By the end of the class, students will have learned to discuss poetry with a creative and critical eye, have been introduced to issues in Asian American literature, and have developed their voice as writers.

Upper Division American Culture Courses