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

Winter 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.

Preparation for the Major

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. Decker

This course utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to examine U.S. culture writ large, specifically “America” itself, as an imagined and often-contested national 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 panoply of artistic sources in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In doing so, we will continually probe how various American identities and, in particular, experiences of the “American dream,” are rendered in art and popular culture across a variety of mediums, electronic as well as print. Poetry and novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, James M. Cain, Adrienne Rich, Sandra Cisneros, and Claudia Rankine. Autobiography and essays by Frederick Jackson Turner, W.E.B. DuBois, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Richard Rodriguez. Movies and TV include Citizen Kane, The Godfather, The Last Black Man In San Francisco, Us, Father Knows Best, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Ugly Betty, Black-ish, and Fresh Off the Boat. Music from jazz to Motown to rap.

 

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

 

This class meets certain GE-Foundations and College Diversity requirements. See the schedule of classes for more information.

The Gothic in U.S. Literatures and Cultures

Topics in American Cultures
English 87.1 / Prof. Hyde

As a way of introducing students to the American Literature and Cultures major, this seminar examines the gothic origins and traditions of early U.S. literature and culture. Readers long have been fascinated by the gothic excesses of early U.S. literature— its haunted origins stories, murderous plots, and unreliable narrators. However, critics have not always taken the gothic tendencies of early U.S. literature seriously—seeing in its overblown conventions the signs of an underdeveloped and almost juvenile culture. This seminar uses the nineteenth gothic to introduce students to the interdisciplinary connections between American literature, culture, and politics. We will approach the gothic—and its unreliable narrators, doppelgangers, and obsession with foreignness and race—as an opportunity to understand the political and cultural anxieties about identity and power that divided and haunted the tumultuous century between the American Revolution and the Civil War. Readings will include secondary criticism, as well as primary texts by Jefferson, Brown, Poe, Sigourney, Apess, Melville, Jacobs, and Jordan Peele. Students will write short weekly posts, give a presentation, and submit a final paper.

 

This course is a required preparatory course for the major in American Literature and Culture and enrollment will be restricted during first pass to American Literature and Culture majors only. If you plan to major in American Literature and Culture and are not yet declared, contact the English undergraduate advising offices for assistance during your enrollment pass.

 

This class meets certain GE-Foundations and College Diversity requirements. See the schedule of classes for more information.

Indigenous Literatures and California

Topics in American Cultures
English 87.2 / Prof. Mo’e’hahne

This seminar considers Indigenous literatures that are connected to the geographies, currently, identified as California. By reading fiction, poetry, memoir, and critical theory as well as examining performance and visual art, we will analyze how Indigenous authors/artists conceive of Indigeneity and sociality in ways that speak to the deep Indigenous histories and presences in California as well as historic and on-going settler imperial violences. We will read the work of authors/artists who are Indigenous to California as well as those who have migrated to or locate their work in these geographies. We will consider how Indigenous authors re/map the urbanized and non-urbanized Indigenous homelands of California through anti-colonial forms of memory, belonging, gender and sexuality. We will ask, how do the Indigenous literatures of California represent significant spaces of decolonial thought and practice that reframe dominant conceptions and narrations of Indigeneity, place, and temporality as well as Indigenous migrations in the North-American U.S. settler colony.

 

This course is a required preparatory course for the major in American Literature and Culture and enrollment will be restricted during first pass to American Literature and Culture majors only. If you plan to major in American Literature and Culture and are not yet declared, contact the English undergraduate advising offices for assistance during your enrollment pass.

 

This class meets certain GE-Foundations and College Diversity requirements. See the schedule of classes for more information.

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 About Film for English and American Literature Majors

Writing in the English Major: Adjunct
English 110B / Prof. Zirulnik

Introduction to writing about cinema for students enrolled in base American Literature and Culture or English courses for which analysis of film is required. Familiarizes students with formal systems, e.g. cinematography, editing, mise-en-scène, and sound. Addresses study of cinema in discipline-specific framework of English courses, especially critical analysis of films and film styles within broader social context

 

This course is only open for enrollment to students concurrently enrolled in English 106, 118B, M118F, 129, 177.1, 177.2, 179.3, 179.4.

 

Please note that this is a 2-unit course.

Memory In Women’s Writing

Writing in the English Major: Transfer Students
English 110T / Prof. Underwood

This class will focus on helping students develop their critical writing abilities by exploring the way women authors use memory in fiction and nonfiction. Students will have the opportunity to refine their argumentative skills through weekly in-class writing assignments and discussions. The class will mainly function as a writing workshop. Much of our time will be spent discussing literature and developing our critical writing skills through peer editing. Reading for this class may include works by Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, and Zadie Smith.This course is only open to Fall 2019 transfer students. To enroll, please contact the English Undergraduate Advising Office at 310-825-1389 or via MyUCLA MessageCenter.

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 meeting.

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 are interested in joining UCLAPoem, please come to the first meeting.

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

Indigenous Literatures of North America

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 through fiction, poetry, and memoir as well as cinema and visual art. We will examine how authors/artists imagine Native lifeworlds, affective and embodied experiences, and genders and sexualities in ways that index, challenge, and transcend historic and on-going settler and imperial violence in the Americas. We will also consider how authors/artists draw on Indigenous cosmologies and relationships with other-than-human life in narrating anti-colonial forms of memory, intergenerational connection, and spatiality. With an emphasis on writers/artist who are indigenous to the geographies currently claimed and occupied by the United States and Canadian North-American, settler-imperial colonies, we will 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*–COURSE POSTPONED

English 166B / Prof. Silva

Course postponed until Spring 2020.

 

* = Fulfills pre-1848 requirement.

American Poetry to 1900

English 167A / Prof. Salway

Study of American poetry from Puritan period through end of 19th century.

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.

IDENTITIES – Places, Communities, and Environments

 

Migrant Asian American Literature

Contemporary Asian American Literary Issues and Criticism
English M102B / Prof. Cheung

This course examines the growing ethnic diversity and formal complexity in Asian American writing.  Attempts to recover ethnic history are accompanied by ambivalence about static notions of race or ethnicity, especially in light of the transnational affiliations of many new immigrants.  Complicating the earlier impulse among Asian American writers to “claim America” or reclaim an Asian heritage is a sense of hybridity or diaspora. Issues explored include what constitutes family and whether home is a haven or a repressive environment; whether one should hold on to ethnic heritage, fully “assimilate,” or forge a global citizenship; obstacles that emerge on account of gender, class, sexual orientation, or religion; tactical uses of points of view such as unreliable narrators or narrators whose gender or ethnic backgrounds differ from the authors’; interracial dynamics and the formation of interethnic or transnational communities.

African American Literature from Harlem Renaissance to 1960s

English M104B / Prof. Yarborough

Survey of African American literature from World War I through the 1950s, including poetry, fiction, and essays by such authors as Alain Locke, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Nella Larsen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer.  The class will focus first on the unprecedented outpouring of artistic production during the Harlem (or New Negro) Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s.  Next it will examine the diverse literary voices that emerged in the 1940s and 50s, many of whom were influenced by the radical left politics of the time.  The class will consider the historical and cultural contexts of the works as well as strategies for engaging formal aspects of the assigned materials.  Requirements include a midterm exam, a term paper, and a final exam.

Forms for the Fight: The Worlds of Black Abolitionism

Topics in African American Literature and Culture
English M104E / Prof. Beck

This course will introduce students to the rich history of black abolitionism in the United States. It will also introduce students to recent innovative research in this field, such as the work of the Colored Conventions Project. Likely focuses include periodicals and newspapers such as Freedom’s Journal and The North Star, orators such as Maria W. Stewart and Frederick Douglass, pamphleteers such as David Walker, religious figures such as Sojourner Truth and Henry Highland Garnet, among many other topics.

Chicana/Chicano Literature since el Movimiento, 1970s to Present

English M105C / Prof. Perez-Torres

This class surveys examples of Chicanx literature from the 1960’s onward. We consider the various meanings (aesthetic, social, sexual, racial, cultural, political, economic) evoked by the term Chicanx. We’ll use this term because it complicates a simple binary gender identification over the term Chicana/o or Chican@. The class considers Chicanx experience as a dynamic result of global European expansion encountering indigenous civilizations. This bears thematic and formal consequences for ways that Chicanx literature engages the legacy of colonialism and globalization. The class will pursue a careful method of rigorous textual analysis in order to generate clear, effective analytical thought about the texts we read. This analysis will consider relevant cultural and historical contextualization. The goals of the class will be: 1) to express oneself in a clear and organized way; 2) to analyze literary material critically; and, 3) to generate original ideas from a synthesis of different critical thoughts and analyses.

Indigenous Literatures of North America

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 through fiction, poetry, and memoir as well as cinema and visual art. We will examine how authors/artists imagine Native lifeworlds, affective and embodied experiences, and genders and sexualities in ways that index, challenge, and transcend historic and on-going settler and imperial violence in the Americas. We will also consider how authors/artists draw on Indigenous cosmologies and relationships with other-than-human life in narrating anti-colonial forms of memory, intergenerational connection, and spatiality. With an emphasis on writers/artist who are indigenous to the geographies currently claimed and occupied by the United States and Canadian North-American, settler-imperial colonies, we will 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?

Queer American Autobiography

Topics in Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
English 109 / 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 Francis Parkman’s The Oregon Trail (1849). Careful attention will be given to the ways in which queer gender and sexuality intersect with experiences of race, ethnicity, class, and nationality.

Food Cultures and Food Politics

English M118F / Prof. Hall

As Maggie Kilgour points out, eating “depends upon and enforces an absolute division between inside and outside; but in the act itself that opposition disappears, dissolving the structure it appears to produce.” Troubling the divide between within and without, and between material and figurative, food offers a lens for interrogating the ideologies that shape our tastes, and the often overlooked ways in which we are connected to food systems. In this course, we will study primary texts – including novels, poetry, life writing, journalism, and films – that grapple with the complicated issues surrounding food, appetite, hunger, and taste. We will also read foundational theorists of taste and consumption including Claude Lévi-Strauss, Mary Douglas, and Pierre Bourdieu. Sample texts include The Tropic of Orange by Karen Tei Yamashita, Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “How to Feed a Wolf” by M.F.K. Fisher, and “Babette’s Feast” (dir. Gabriel Axel).

 

Fulfills an upper-division requirement for the Literature and the Environment minor.

 

Voices of the Early Black Atlantic*–COURSE POSTPONED

Literature of Americas
English 135 / Prof. Silva

Course postponed until Spring 2020.

*= pre-1848 course

10 American Poets

Contemporary American Poetry
English 173C / Prof. Mullen

Instead of sampling poems in an anthology, we will read ten books by ten poets: Jericho Brown, Natalie Diaz, 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

World War II – with its Nazi death machines and the US nuclear horrors – proved a traumatic and tremendous moment in world history. Two convulsive reactions occurred in the US following the second Great War. One reaction was to seek comfort: reaffirming differences and definitions, marking out clearly defined national, racial, sexual, and class boundaries. The other reaction was to embrace change, but a change responding to profound historical injustices. These opposite convulsive reactions have generated the cultural, social, and political dynamics moving the US over the last seven decades. This course surveys some of literary works following World War II that help us identify and analyze the dynamics of this nation as it at once emerges as both a superpower on the world stage and yet incapable of attending to its troubled past. We will examine novels, poetry, and short stories whose fictional worlds help reveal the contradictions, problems, and potential of a nation at change. In the process, we will focus on precise textual and literary analyses. Argumentation, summoning, and employing evidence, and clarity in written and verbal expression form the rudimentary skills.

“Tune In, Turn On:” Film and Fiction of the 1960s Counterculture

Interdisciplinary Studies of American Culture
English 177.1 / Prof. Solomon

This course will focus on creative texts designed to reflect the revolutionary goals of the youth movements/countercultures during the “long 1960s.” We will examine artistic engagements with the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War and the Antiwar Movement, the Environmental Movement, the Women’s Movement, urban unrest, college campus activism, the drug culture, and the sexual revolution.

Screenplay Adaptation: Science Fiction and the Algorithmic Image

Interdisciplinary Studies of American Culture
English 177.2 / Prof. Stefans

What challenges does a screenwriter face when adapting a literary work for the screen? What tools are available to the writer of novels and short fiction that are not available to the director, and vice versa? In this course, we will read several works of fiction and the screenplays based on them with a particular focus on science fiction. In addition to reviewing elements of drama (such plot and character), screenplay format and the general 3-act structure of a mainstream film, we will also examine closely the technologies behind the creation of the more fantastic sides of these film visions. To this end, in addition to writing and analysis, students will be introduced (in a rudimentary way) to image making processes such as 3D modeling and computer programming to get a behind-the-scenes look at special effects (students don’t have to purchase software). Some fiction/films that we will look at include Blade Runner (based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), Ender’s Game, Ready Player One and Arrival (based on a short story by Ted Chiang). We will also review some theory on the rise of digital culture, the history of special effects, video game studies and other writing in discourses related to specific works. This class involves weekly writing / creative assignments, a short mid-term paper, a final exam and a final paper/project.

MEDIA – Aesthetics, Genres, and Technologies

 

American Poetry to 1900

English 167A / Prof. Salway

Study of American poetry from Puritan period through end of 19th century.

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.

10 American Poets

Contemporary American Poetry
English 173C / Prof. Mullen

Instead of sampling poems in an anthology, we will read ten books by ten poets: Jericho Brown, Natalie Diaz, 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

World War II – with its Nazi death machines and the US nuclear horrors – proved a traumatic and tremendous moment in world history. Two convulsive reactions occurred in the US following the second Great War. One reaction was to seek comfort: reaffirming differences and definitions, marking out clearly defined national, racial, sexual, and class boundaries. The other reaction was to embrace change, but a change responding to profound historical injustices. These opposite convulsive reactions have generated the cultural, social, and political dynamics moving the US over the last seven decades. This course surveys some of literary works following World War II that help us identify and analyze the dynamics of this nation as it at once emerges as both a superpower on the world stage and yet incapable of attending to its troubled past. We will examine novels, poetry, and short stories whose fictional worlds help reveal the contradictions, problems, and potential of a nation at change. In the process, we will focus on precise textual and literary analyses. Argumentation, summoning, and employing evidence, and clarity in written and verbal expression form the rudimentary skills.

“Tune In, Turn On:” Film and Fiction of the 1960s Counterculture

Interdisciplinary Studies of American Culture
English 177.1 / Prof. Solomon

This course will focus on creative texts designed to reflect the revolutionary goals of the youth movements/countercultures during the “long 1960s.” We will examine artistic engagements with the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War and the Antiwar Movement, the Environmental Movement, the Women’s Movement, urban unrest, college campus activism, the drug culture, and the sexual revolution.

Not open to students who took English 177 with Prof. Solomon in Winter 2019.

Screenplay Adaptation: Science Fiction and the Algorithmic Image

Interdisciplinary Studies of American Culture
English 177.2 / Prof. Stefans

What challenges does a screenwriter face when adapting a literary work for the screen? What tools are available to the writer of novels and short fiction that are not available to the director, and vice versa? In this course, we will read several works of fiction and the screenplays based on them with a particular focus on science fiction. In addition to reviewing elements of drama (such plot and character), screenplay format and the general 3-act structure of a mainstream film, we will also examine closely the technologies behind the creation of the more fantastic sides of these film visions. To this end, in addition to writing and analysis, students will be introduced (in a rudimentary way) to image making processes such as 3D modeling and computer programming to get a behind-the-scenes look at special effects (students don’t have to purchase software). Some fiction/films that we will look at include Blade Runner (based on Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), Ender’s Game, Ready Player One and Arrival (based on a short story by Ted Chiang). We will also review some theory on the rise of digital culture, the history of special effects, video game studies and other writing in discourses related to specific works. This class involves weekly writing / creative assignments, a short mid-term paper, a final exam and a final paper/project.

Senior/Capstone Seminars

 

Con Artists, Cross-Dressers, Imposters, and Frauds: The Secret History of the Western Frontier

Capstone Seminar
English 184.2 / Prof. Allmendinger

This seminar exposes various forms of deception practiced by writers, artists, and ordinary men and woman on the western frontier at the turn of the previous century.  These figures include geologist and nature writer Clarence King, who passed as black while he was secretly married to an African American woman; Willa Cather, who cross-dressed as a man while writing about unconventional women in the American West; Yone Noguchi, an immigrant Japanese poet with a fluid sexual orientation, who published an “autobiographical” novel called The American Diary of a Japanese Girl; Isadora Duncan, the founder of modern American dance; Sylvester Long, a mixed-race individual who posed as a full-blooded Native American chieftain in silent film; and James Addison Reavis, who sought to defraud the US government by forging a Spanish land grant which allegedly entitled him to ownership of the entire Arizona and New Mexico Territories.  The syllabus will include their published works, as well as silent films, sketches, drawings, forged archival documents, photographs, and biographies of these individuals.  Requirements include weekly attendance and participation in seminar, one oral report, and a research paper due on the last day of class.

 

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.

Pornography and the Politics of Sexual Representation

Capstone Seminar
English 184.4 / Prof. Mott

As a capstone seminar, the course proceeds from the assumption that students will pursue an independent research project representing a culmination of their learning at UCLA. We begin with a study of Linda Williams’s Hard Core from the perspective of researchers, reading to discover her process and methods as much as her argument. In the third week, students meet individually with the instructor to plot their research project. For the following five weeks, students post the results of their research to the course website, creating an archive for themselves and their peers. The postings scaffold the final project into “What’s at Stake,” “Critical Approach,” and “Close Reading” entries. At the same time, class functions as a workshop in which students receive suggestions on their works-in-progress. During ninth week, we will conduct a round-robin editing workshop during which students will receive more pointed suggestions on a substantial piece of their project. In the final week, students present their nearly-complete project in a “mini-conference.

 

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.

Stories Our Ancestors Tell: History and Memory in Women’s Poetry

Capstone Seminar
English 184.5 / Prof. Rowe

Who we are and may become originates in our history, each uniquely personal by virtue of family of origin, ethnic heritage, gender, sexuality, spirituality, and individual talents and traits.   Yet, by coming into the university, each of us expands our vision of the world both by coming to know oneself better and by learning to enter, curiously and respectfully, into the life stream of human beings different than ourselves and by focusing on the literary and artistic productions of diverse cultures. Language (oral and written) enables us to speak and name the self; stories link us in a chain of remembrance to a collective past. Through this cultural link, some writers claim an ethnic community, clan and tribal identity, continuity with the spirits, and a sense of the home (and land) where they learned to grow and flourish.  For other writers, exiled from originary home(land)s by migrations, enslavements, internments, death camps, and urban violence, the search for connection to the communal past becomes a struggle to regenerate the self–through linguistic visions of new possibilities and newly forged identities. This seminar asks students to engage these issues of self-definition, history, and memory through the study of poetry and related essays.In autobiographical writings, interviews, theoretical essays, and poetry by (primarily) American twentieth-century authors, such as Angelou, Anzaldúa, Atwood, Cervantes, De Leon, Harjo, Kalia, Kim, Klepfisz, Lorde, Suhair Majah, McElroy, Mirikitani, Mora, Plath, Rich, Rose, Rukeyser, Silko, Tapahonso, Thúy, Wong, and Walker (Margaret and Alice), women speak of growing up replete with memories, ancestral echoes, and resonant maternal voices.  Each woman connects the present with the past, often by hearing stories transmitted by grandmothers and mothers who tell a collective history of family, homeland, and spiritual beliefs.  By heeding truths gleaned from the ancestral past, each woman comes to know her “Self” and infuses her poetry with a unique vision and voice that makes lives, both old and new, into poetic memoirs.

Whether reading poetry or creating it, hearing stories or crafting them, drawing forth dreams of ancient lands, objects, and faces, or considering how the present self bears the imprint of earlier history, students are expected to be contributors and collaborators.  This seminar engages students in learning to identify and celebrate their personal legacies of being and belonging. Each student will “adopt” a poet/poems as the basis for intensive study.   Requirements will be a twenty-minute presentation, a short prospectus, a 15-page final critical paper or creative project (in two installments), and a cumulative poetry portfolio, as well as active participation in seminar discussions.  Remember, Audre Lorde proclaims that “poetry is not a luxury” but rather the “skeleton architecture of our lives,” which “lays the foundation for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.”

 

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.

Fiction of the Harlem Renaissance

Topics in African American Literature
English M191A / Prof. Yarborough

The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s was a remarkably productive period for African American artists in a range of fields, including music, literature, dance, film, drama, and the visual arts.  Catalyzing this phenomenon were several factors, among them the unprecedented migration of blacks from the rural South to the urban North and a burgeoning interest in African American culture on the part of whites.  In addition, we see a generation of African Americans coming of age with new educational opportunities and fresh orientations toward politics and toward black identity itself.

 

In this seminar, we will focus on novels and short stories produced by African Americans during this period with the goal of coming to an appreciation of the diversity of stylistic approaches in the assigned texts as well as of the wide variety of topics engaged.  Among the authors to be covered are Claude McKay, Jesse Fauset, George Schuyler, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, and Wallace Thurman.  Requirements include attendance and class participation, weekly online response posts, one oral presentation, two term papers.

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 Self as Nation in Chinese American Literature

Topics in Asian American Literature
English M191C / Prof. Cheung

This course covers Chinese American texts written between 1970s and 2020, tracking Chinese American Literary history and its three cultural nationalist trajectories (“claiming America,” “claiming diaspora,” and “simultaneity of geography”) and its gender/ sexuality crosscurrents (“remasculation,” feminism, and alternative gender).

 

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.

 

Upper Division American Culture Courses