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 2020

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.

**Please note that additional courses may be added for Fall 2020. Students are encouraged to check for updates periodically.**

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.

Race, Ethnicity, and Performance

Topics in American Culture
English 87 / Prof. S.K. Lee

This course will consider how categories of race and ethnicity have been historically deployed and constructed through performance. Students will explore a range of issues and methodological questions raised when writing about race and ethnicity through an engagement with a range of performance practices that include performance art, political activism, theater, visual art or art installations, film, music, and literature. Questions we will explore in this course include: What constitutes a performance? How do we document and write about performance as spectators, witnesses, scholars, and/or practitioners? How does the study of performance give us the means to understand racial and ethnic identities in relation to gender and sexuality? How can performance enact and perpetuate oppression, violence, and harm, but how can it also be a form of resistance? We will analyze different performances through discussion and close reading of key performance studies texts, theories, and concepts.

 

This course will feature a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching.

 

This is a required preparatory course for the American Literature and Culture major.

Upper Division Writing, Research, and Practicum Opportunities

Please note that these courses do not satisfy any ALC major requirements; however, they are valuable opportunities for upper-division credit that ALC students may wish to explore.

If you declared the ALC major prior to Fall 2018, certain courses listed here may be applied as major electives. Contact the English undergraduate advising office for more information.

Writing in the English Major: Analytical Writing

English 110A / Prof. Stephan

In this course, designed specifically for English majors but now open to students from all majors, you will learn to build on your skills and abilities as a writer of literary and cultural analyses. You’ll find ways to ask richer literary questions, develop more nuanced analyses of complex texts, and shape your own voice as a writer. We’ll focus on literary arguments and begin with this basic question: what constitutes a good, rich, complex question in literary analysis? What makes a substantial topic that might lead to a top-notch persuasive argument? Because good writing (and thus good argumentation) is also a process, we will practice creation, revision, contemplation, and editing, as well as seeking and giving feedback. Throughout the course, we will workshop writing exercises with the goal of making ourselves and others more comfortable and more successful as writers of good academic prose.

 

This course counts as an elective for the Professional Writing Minor. 

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

English 110C / Prof. Kareem

What does it mean to engage in “public writing” or to be a “public intellectual? This course broadens students’ concept of what it means to write about literature by exploring the history and practice of writing literary criticism for a general (rather than for a specifically academic) audience. We’ll pay particular attention to the range of venues that have emerged for writers to publish their work for non-specialist readers. The course will include extensive opportunities for critical writing in a variety of forms and for a variety of audiences, as well as building research skills for a variety of applications, including a culminating portfolio project.

 

This course counts as an elective for the Professional Writing Minor. 

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, October 6, 2020!

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, October 8, 2020.

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

Ways of Reading Race

English 100 / Prof. Perez-Torres

This course provides an overview of the main intellectual PARADIGMS that have structured the academic study of race and ethnicity in the United States since World War II. It also introduces you to the METHODS used by key disciplines to address the topic of race. in which we see the insights of critical race and ethnic studies enacted. We will pay special attention to literature and the arts in this class, but there are many “Ways of Reading Race” and we will discuss the different disciplinary ways that race is made legible in particular ways based on disciplinary biases. The goal is to gain proficiency in recognizing the significance of race across a range of academic fields to be able to see, think, and talk about race and ethnicity mindfully, critically, and productively.

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.

 

Not open to students who took English M101B, LGBTS M101B, or Gender Studies M105B in Fall 2018 or Fall 2019.

Historical Survey of Asian American Literature

English M102A / Prof. Ling

This course examines a body of Asian American literary works—autobiography, the novel, short fiction, critical essay, and drama, among others—which thematizes Asians’ experiences in the U.S. from the early twentieth century to the 1990s, with a majority of the assigned reading material focused on what happened in the pre-1980 period. Issues to look at include trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic Asian migration and diaspora; racialization; the lasting effects of imperil wars; interethnic and generational dynamics; cultural politics social activism; and gender and class formations. Lectures will focus on making sense of texts in contexts, with an emphasis on how the narrative voices, thematic orientations, and formal properties of the works examined are shaped by the interplay between authorial aspirations, circumstantial constraints, and the commercially driven literary markets. Students enrolled in the class will be updated on the course requirements and grading policies during Summer. Lauren Higa, a graduate student from the Department of Asian American Studies, will be the Reader for this course.

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, Charles Chesnutt, 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.

Studies in Native American and Indigenous Literatures

English 106 / Prof. Mo’e’hahne

In this course, we will be introduced to the Indigenous literatures of North America by reading fiction and poetry as well as literary history and critical theory. We will consider how authors/artists imagine Indigenous lifeworlds, affective and embodied experiences, and genders and sexualities in ways that challenge and transcend historic and on-going settler-imperial violence in the Americas. We will focus on writers who are Indigenous to the geographies currently occupied by the United States and Canadian North-American, settler-imperial colonies. We will examine how authors/artists draw on Indigenous cosmologies and relationships with other-than-human life in crafting anti-colonial forms of memory, intergenerational connection, and spatiality. We will also ask, how do Indigenous literatures represent vital anti-colonial sites of cultural, ecological, feminist, queer, and political theorizing with the power to enact a decolonial present and future?

American Literature, 1776 to 1832**

English 166B / Prof. Colacurcio

After a brief look at the famous political texts associated with the American Revolution, this course will focus on the many-stranded attempt to create and define a new-fledged American literature as such–not just British literature written in America.  The writers begin, tentatively, trying to make the familiar British genres express American experience, but soon discover the time-and-place limitations of these.  New forms will be needed.  Of course it will go through some clumsy stages, but sooner or later there will be Poe. Hawthorne, and (almost) Emerson.

 

**This course qualifies as a pre-1848 course

American Literature, 1865 – 1900

English 170A / Prof. Looby

After the Civil War American literature entered a period of ferment. In this course we will study American literary expression after the war and up to the beginning of the twentieth century, tracing lines of development as it underwent radical changes. We’ll begin by reading De Forest’s Civil War novel, Miss Ravenel’s Conversion. At the center of the course will be a sustained reading of a cluster of writers who, in the mid-1880s, participated in a collective literary undertaking sponsored by the popular Century Magazine, an effort to review the war itself and unify the nation in its aftermath. James serialized The Bostonians there; Howells’s The Rise of Silas Lapham too; excerpts from Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as well. African American writer Charles Chesnutt tried to contribute to the Century at this time but was rebuffed: we will read him, too. Women writers of various stripes—sentimental and conventional, caustic and rebellious—came to the fore in this period: we will read Chopin’s The Awakening and Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs.

IDENTITIES – Places, Communities, and Environments

Ways of Reading Race

English 100 / Prof. Perez-Torres

This course provides an overview of the main intellectual PARADIGMS that have structured the academic study of race and ethnicity in the United States since World War II. It also introduces you to the METHODS used by key disciplines to address the topic of race. in which we see the insights of critical race and ethnic studies enacted. We will pay special attention to literature and the arts in this class, but there are many “Ways of Reading Race” and we will discuss the different disciplinary ways that race is made legible in particular ways based on disciplinary biases. The goal is to gain proficiency in recognizing the significance of race across a range of academic fields to be able to see, think, and talk about race and ethnicity mindfully, critically, and productively.

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.

 

Not open to students who took English M101B, LGBTS M101B, or Gender Studies M105B in Fall 2018 or Fall 2019.

Historical Survey of Asian American Literature

English M102A / Prof. Ling

This course examines a body of Asian American literary works—autobiography, the novel, short fiction, critical essay, and drama, among others—which thematizes Asians’ experiences in the U.S. from the early twentieth century to the 1990s, with a majority of the assigned reading material focused on what happened in the pre-1980 period. Issues to look at include trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic Asian migration and diaspora; racialization; the lasting effects of imperil wars; interethnic and generational dynamics; cultural politics social activism; and gender and class formations. Lectures will focus on making sense of texts in contexts, with an emphasis on how the narrative voices, thematic orientations, and formal properties of the works examined are shaped by the interplay between authorial aspirations, circumstantial constraints, and the commercially driven literary markets. Students enrolled in the class will be updated on the course requirements and grading policies during Summer. Lauren Higa, a graduate student from the Department of Asian American Studies, will be the Reader for this course.

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, Charles Chesnutt, 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/o/x Literature, 1400 to 1920**

English M105A / Prof. Lopez

What is early Chicana/o/x literature?  Does it look like later Chicana/o/x literature?  What does “Chicana/o/x” 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/x.  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/x 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/x culture, the literary ways in which Chicanas/os/xs have responded to these forces, and a solid grounding for further courses in Chicana/o/x Studies.

 

**Satisfies pre-1848 requirement for American Literature and Culture majors.

Studies in Native American and Indigenous Literatures

English 106 / Prof. Mo’e’hahne

In this course, we will be introduced to the Indigenous literatures of North America by reading fiction and poetry as well as literary history and critical theory. We will consider how authors/artists imagine Indigenous lifeworlds, affective and embodied experiences, and genders and sexualities in ways that challenge and transcend historic and on-going settler-imperial violence in the Americas. We will focus on writers who are Indigenous to the geographies currently occupied by the United States and Canadian North-American, settler-imperial colonies. We will examine how authors/artists draw on Indigenous cosmologies and relationships with other-than-human life in crafting anti-colonial forms of memory, intergenerational connection, and spatiality. We will also ask, how do Indigenous literatures represent vital anti-colonial sites of cultural, ecological, feminist, queer, and political theorizing with the power to enact a decolonial present and future?

Black-Asian Relationship: Affinities and Cleavages

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

The course covers through fiction and memoirs areas in which Asians and Blacks have come into conflict and collaboration, with particular focus on the 1992 Los Angeles uprising and the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement. We will examine the stereotype of the “Asian American model minority” (imposed by the dominant culture but to which many Americans of Asian descent have also subscribed) and its insidious roles in fueling both social upheavals. An investigation into the causes and consequences of inter-minority conflict disrupts the Black/White binary of American race relations. Additionally, we look at the burden of representation incumbent upon peoples of color and the polar positions in which “Asian Americans” find themselves—as guilty perpetrators abetting police violence and as victims of racial violence.

 

Required Texts:

Paul Beatty, White Boy Shuffle

Marilyn Chin, The Portrait of the Self as Nation

Chang-rae Lee, Native Speaker

Russell Leong, “No Bruce Lee”

Ty Pak, “The Court Interpreter”

Nina Revoyr, Southland

John Edgar Wideman, Philadelphia Fire

Hisaye Yamamoto, Seventeen Syllables

Re/writing Mexican LA

Literature of California and the American West
English 117 / Prof. Lopez

This class explores the role literature played in California’s 19th century shift from a Mexican territory to a US state.  That transformation relies on erasing the state’s Mexican past and replacing it with a Spanish fantasy, a process we’ll explore using LA as a case study. Through an intersectional analysis of the 19th c Latinx, indigenous, and Anglo literature of the southland, students will examine the precise ways in which a dominant majority can mobilize narrative – and the study of literature – to silence and disempower.  We will also investigate resistance strategies. Students will be expected to engage in rigorous textual analysis, work with archival material, and produce – in addition to a traditional paper – creative, publicly engaged writing across multiple platforms including the Instagram project @picturingmexicanamerica.  Readings will be in English and multigeneric, encompassing oral histories, plays, poetry, and prose fiction.

Single Author: Ntozake Shange

Individual Authors
English 139 / Prof. Mullen

We will immerse ourselves in the work of Ntozake Shange (1948-2018), the celebrated creator of innovative theater pieces, dramatic works that she called “choreopoems.” Although best known as a playwright, Shange’s works draw on her life as a multimedia or intermedia artist in multiple genres, often composing and performing her poetry in collaboration with musicians, dancers, and visual artists. Throughout her dazzling life as artist and performer, Ntozake Shange worked intently to produce critical and poetic synergies of words and action, music and dance, image and gesture. Probably more than any other writer, she has sketched engaging portraits of artists compelled to create new worlds where they can be free. In Shange’s prolific works we find extravagant characters at home in lavishly bohemian settings, many of them performers, dancers, musicians, and artists of color, all striving to live their most vivid dreams. Our reading will include her best-known play, For Colored Girls, as well as two novels, Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo and Lillianne, a poetry collection, Wild Beauty, and a memoir/essay collection, Lost in Language and Sound.

Major American Authors

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 logics that bolster them, then consider how these historical processes have shaped the present. Readings include works by Gloria Anzaldúa, Wanda Coleman, Gil Cuadros, Angela Davis, Rebecca Harding Davis, Audre Lorde, Subcomandante Marcos, Simon Ortiz, Assata Shakur, and Leslie Marmon Silko.

American Literature, 1900 to 1945

English 170B / Prof. Huehls

This class examines modernism in its many forms and permutations. We will focus in particular on the interaction between aesthetics and politics, closely examining the relationship between innovative literary forms and pressing political concerns of the first half of the twentieth century.

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 selections from authors such as 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 writers define and put pressure on the ideas conveyed by the three words “Modern American Poetry.” To do so, we will examine the ways in which individual poems engage with notions of history, nation, and literary form while exploring a range of approaches to reading and writing about poetry.

Contemporary American Poetry: Ten American Poets

English 173C / Prof. Mullen

Instead of sampling poems in an anthology, we will read ten books by ten poets: Jericho Brown, Natalie Díaz, Terrance Hayes, Martín Espada, Dorothea Lasky, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Arthur Sze, Ellen Bryant Voigt, W.S. Merwin, and Dean Young. This will allow deeper immersion in the work of each poet. Most of the books are slender, yet poems require multiple readings, so you will need to devote sufficient time to the works in order to experience the pleasures of poetry. This course requires constant reading, writing, and active participation in class discussion. Each student should keep a reader’s journal. Instead of lecture, the class format is student-centered discussion, based on your journal entries, in-class writing assignments, and oral presentations, which will include reading and interpretation of poems, critical questions for discussion, aesthetic and cultural perspectives on the poets’ work. Poets and works were chosen for accomplishment, diversity, and influence on American poetry.

American Fiction since 1945

English 174B / Prof. Perez-Torres

This course will consider novels, narrative poetry, and short stories whose fictional worlds help reveal the contradictions, problems, and potential of a nation at change following the convulsive crisis that was World War II. We will trace two reactions evident in U.S. society. One sought comfort: structuring differences and definitions, marking national, racial, sexual, and class boundaries. A deep need to distinguish between “us” and “other” generates anxiety about infiltration and contamination. The other reaction was to embrace change that addresses profound historical injustices. These opposite reactions form dynamic poles that shape the literature we will read for this class. In the process, we will focus on precise textual and literary analyses. The goals of the class will be: 1) to express oneself in a clear and organized way; 2) to analyze literary material critically; 3) to generate original ideas from a synthesis of different critical thoughts and analyses and, 4) to consider how post-war socio-political dynamics establish the patterns for modern life today.

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

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.

MEDIA – Aesthetics, Genres, and Technologies

Single Author: Ntozake Shange

Individual Authors
English 139 / Prof. Mullen

We will immerse ourselves in the work of Ntozake Shange (1948-2018), the celebrated creator of innovative theater pieces, dramatic works that she called “choreopoems.” Although best known as a playwright, Shange’s works draw on her life as a multimedia or intermedia artist in multiple genres, often composing and performing her poetry in collaboration with musicians, dancers, and visual artists. Throughout her dazzling life as artist and performer, Ntozake Shange worked intently to produce critical and poetic synergies of words and action, music and dance, image and gesture. Probably more than any other writer, she has sketched engaging portraits of artists compelled to create new worlds where they can be free. In Shange’s prolific works we find extravagant characters at home in lavishly bohemian settings, many of them performers, dancers, musicians, and artists of color, all striving to live their most vivid dreams. Our reading will include her best-known play, For Colored Girls, as well as two novels, Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo and Lillianne, a poetry collection, Wild Beauty, and a memoir/essay collection, Lost in Language and Sound.

Major American Authors

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 logics that bolster them, then consider how these historical processes have shaped the present. Readings include works by Gloria Anzaldúa, Wanda Coleman, Gil Cuadros, Angela Davis, Rebecca Harding Davis, Audre Lorde, Subcomandante Marcos, Simon Ortiz, Assata Shakur, and Leslie Marmon Silko.

American Literature, 1865 – 1900

English 170A / Prof. Looby

After the Civil War American literature entered a period of ferment. In this course we will study American literary expression after the war and up to the beginning of the twentieth century, tracing lines of development as it underwent radical changes. We’ll begin by reading De Forest’s Civil War novel, Miss Ravenel’s Conversion. At the center of the course will be a sustained reading of a cluster of writers who, in the mid-1880s, participated in a collective literary undertaking sponsored by the popular Century Magazine, an effort to review the war itself and unify the nation in its aftermath. James serialized The Bostonians there; Howells’s The Rise of Silas Lapham too; excerpts from Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as well. African American writer Charles Chesnutt tried to contribute to the Century at this time but was rebuffed: we will read him, too. Women writers of various stripes—sentimental and conventional, caustic and rebellious—came to the fore in this period: we will read Chopin’s The Awakening and Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs.

American Literature, 1900 to 1945

English 170B / Prof. Huehls

This class examines modernism in its many forms and permutations. We will focus in particular on the interaction between aesthetics and politics, closely examining the relationship between innovative literary forms and pressing political concerns of the first half of the twentieth century.

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 selections from authors such as 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 writers define and put pressure on the ideas conveyed by the three words “Modern American Poetry.” To do so, we will examine the ways in which individual poems engage with notions of history, nation, and literary form while exploring a range of approaches to reading and writing about poetry.

Contemporary American Poetry: Ten American Poets

English 173C / Prof. Mullen

Instead of sampling poems in an anthology, we will read ten books by ten poets: Jericho Brown, Natalie Díaz, Terrance Hayes, Martín Espada, Dorothea Lasky, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Arthur Sze, Ellen Bryant Voigt, W.S. Merwin, and Dean Young. This will allow deeper immersion in the work of each poet. Most of the books are slender, yet poems require multiple readings, so you will need to devote sufficient time to the works in order to experience the pleasures of poetry. This course requires constant reading, writing, and active participation in class discussion. Each student should keep a reader’s journal. Instead of lecture, the class format is student-centered discussion, based on your journal entries, in-class writing assignments, and oral presentations, which will include reading and interpretation of poems, critical questions for discussion, aesthetic and cultural perspectives on the poets’ work. Poets and works were chosen for accomplishment, diversity, and influence on American poetry.

American Fiction since 1945

English 174B / Prof. Perez-Torres

This course will consider novels, narrative poetry, and short stories whose fictional worlds help reveal the contradictions, problems, and potential of a nation at change following the convulsive crisis that was World War II. We will trace two reactions evident in U.S. society. One sought comfort: structuring differences and definitions, marking national, racial, sexual, and class boundaries. A deep need to distinguish between “us” and “other” generates anxiety about infiltration and contamination. The other reaction was to embrace change that addresses profound historical injustices. These opposite reactions form dynamic poles that shape the literature we will read for this class. In the process, we will focus on precise textual and literary analyses. The goals of the class will be: 1) to express oneself in a clear and organized way; 2) to analyze literary material critically; 3) to generate original ideas from a synthesis of different critical thoughts and analyses and, 4) to consider how post-war socio-political dynamics establish the patterns for modern life today.

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

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.

Senior/Capstone 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 American immigrant experience over the last century. To live between cultures, to experience the confounding processes of racialization and assimilation, to labor to translate one’s deepest interiority into a foreign language––all these aspects of migration make a new imaginative relationship with the world a necessity for the migrant and, as such, are fertile ground for literary exploration and cinematic expression. In this class, we study novels and movies as distinct mediums even as we attend to their affinities, such as an impulse toward narrative storytelling. Among our films, one is from the silent era (Chaplin’s The Immigrant); among our novels, one is a wordless story of sequenced, illustrated panels (Tan’s The Arrival). Other novels include Eugenides’ Middlesex, Ozeki’s A Tale for a Time Being, Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World. Other movies: Coppola’s The Godfather, Nair’s The Namesake, Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre.

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

Xiaolong Qiu’s Inspector Chen Detective Fiction Series

Capstone Seminar
English 184.1 / Prof. Cheung

This course explores how world-renowned immigrant writer Xiaolong Qiu uses the popular detective genre as political fiction. Set mostly in Shanghai but often with national and international repercussions, the detective fiction series explores contemporary issues hushed in the mainstream media, circumvents censorship via Anglophone and Francophone mediums, elevates the popular genre to the position of world literature by casting the private eye as a poet manqué and translator of The Wasteland, a bilingual literati who alludes constantly to Chinese and Western poetry. It is available as a BBC Radio 4 Full-Cast Crime Series:

https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Inspector-Chen-Mysteries-Audiobook/B07DV4PW7Q?source_code=GPAGBSH0508140001&ipRedirectOverride=true&ds_rl=1257028&ds_rl=1260658&ds_rl=1262685&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu6jdvPSa6QIVidlkCh1CmgLnEAYYASABEgKsxvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

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

Capstone Seminar
English 184.2 / 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.

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 World Through Susan Sontag

Capstone Seminar
English 184.3 / Prof. Stefans

Susan Sontag (1933 – 2004) could be described as the first “celebrity” intellectual in the United States — not of the type that appeared on TV regularly, but whose opinions, when expressed, became flashpoints for conversation about culture and politics. Essays from the Sixties such as “Notes on Camp” and “Against Interpretation” and the series collected in On Photography (1977) became required reading for anyone wanting razor-sharp insights into contemporary art and culture, particularly of the relationship between “high” and “low” art. Eschewing the life of an academic in 1964, Sontag — who considered herself primarily a novelist, and whose The Volcano Lover (1992) became a best-seller — granted herself incredible freedom in what she wrote about, penning classic, and very approachable, essays on artists and writers such as Antonin Artaud, Leni Riefenstahl, Jean Luc Godard, Albert Camus, the Marquis de Sade and Walter Benjamin. “Sontag has seemingly read everything, from Sophocles to Sartre, but has the gift of explaining ideas in reader-friendly prose – a gift not shared by all the critics who followed the trail she blazed,” writes a contemporary critic. Sontag eventually became known for her political activism, not to mention for various controversial views on issues such as the origins of 9/11, cancer as a metaphor for “white” civilization (a view she retracted), communism and the contemporary Left. Books such as Illness as Metaphor (1977) and AIDS and Its Metaphors (1988) demonstrate a trajectory toward investigating “pain” in general. This course will focus largely on Sontag’s cultural essays and will include much reading and viewing of the objects of her investigations, such as early films by Godard and writing by Camus. We will also read some of her fiction and, if possible, view some of her films, such as Duet for Cannibals (1969) which was recently restored by the UCLA Library Film & Television Archive. UCLA’s Young Research Library holds the complete Sontag archives which we will utilize should circumstances permit. Final projects can include work on Sontag herself, on one of the concepts she explored, or on one or more of the writers and artists she covered.

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

The “Bad” Kids: A New Generation of Asian American Writing

Capstone Seminar
English 184.4 / Prof. Wang

This seminar delineates and interrogates the idea of a homogeneous “Asian American Experience” by way of texts that challenge, subvert, or simply chuck that model minority myth out the window. Readings will highlight the recent explosion of contemporary Asian American voices, writers who are introducing new perspectives, styles and subject matters to the English language literary canon. We will analyze and discuss notions of “bad” and “bad kids” in the works of Asian American writers who portray themes that include but are not limited to: race, ethnicity, boredom, sexuality, mental health, religious marginalization, and rebellion.We will also look at issues of class, family, love, and friendship as portrayed by second-generation, first-generation, and one-point-five generation immigrant writers. How do their voices differ and what stylistic and thematic similarities are shared?  The course covers work by Cathy Park Hong, Mira Jacobs, Yanyi, Charles Yu, Jia Tolentino, Kevin Nguyen, and others.

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

Asian American Short Fiction

Topics in Asian American Literature
English M191C / Prof. Ling

This course examines selected Asian American short stories (including a novella) published from the pre-WWII period to the present. We will close-read these texts, considering their subject matters, writing styles, social relevance, and historical impact. The reading assignments are determined with an eye to the readability and artistic sophistication of the works chosen, as well as the range and depth of their representation of Asian American experiences. It should be noted that short fiction, by virtue of its rhetorical density and ellipsis, tends to be harder to interpret than longer works, in which plots or characterization are more fully developed. This means that the time taken to digest a 20-page short story may be similar to that spent on reading 100 pages from a novel. So, close engagement with and sustained interpretation of literary text are expected in this class throughout the Fall Quarter. Students will be updated on the requirements and grading policies for the seminar during Summer.

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

Queer Indigenous Literatures

Topics in Gender and Sexuality
English M191E / Prof. Mo’e’hahne

This seminar considers the intersections of queerness and Indigeneity in the Indigenous literatures and arts of North America. By reading fiction, poetry, memoir, and critical theory as well as examining cinema, performance art, and visual art, we will analyze how queer Indigenous authors/artists conceive of Indigeneity through anti-colonial conceptions of gender, sexuality, embodiment, and sociality. With an emphasis on writers/artist who are indigenous to the geographies currently occupied by the United States and Canadian North-American, settler-imperial colonies, we will read for the ways that artists/authors imagine queerness as a site of decolonial, embodied knowledge, memory, and relationality that resists anti-Indigenous gender and sexual violence. Listening to and thinking with these authors/artists, we will consider the centrality of dismantling settler-imperial heteropatriarchy to decolonization. We will also ask, what roles have queer Indigenous literatures played in histories of Indigenous art and critical thought in North America, and how do they represent crucial spaces for practicing anti-colonial politics?

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.