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ENGLISH 131B: On the Road: American Travel Films

For more than a century, cars and movies have occupied a romantic place in the American imagination, as vehicles that can take us someplace new and engines for our fantasies of mobility, freedom and personal expression. Perhaps this is one reason why the road movie is one of the most enduring subgenres of twentieth-century film. In this class, we'll watch and discuss ten celebrated American travel films, one for each decade starting from Buster Keaton's silent Go West (1925) and arriving at Alexander Payne's wry anti-road film Nebraska (2013). In between we'll travel by car, bus, motorcycle and even on foot across America and beyond, searching for answers to the motivating questions for this course: what is the attraction of the open road, and how is the romance of its call embraced and challenged by the multiple genres of these films, the concerns of the decades in which they were produced, and the limits they impose on the idea of unrestricted travel, individual growth and independen more »
For more than a century, cars and movies have occupied a romantic place in the American imagination, as vehicles that can take us someplace new and engines for our fantasies of mobility, freedom and personal expression. Perhaps this is one reason why the road movie is one of the most enduring subgenres of twentieth-century film. In this class, we'll watch and discuss ten celebrated American travel films, one for each decade starting from Buster Keaton's silent Go West (1925) and arriving at Alexander Payne's wry anti-road film Nebraska (2013). In between we'll travel by car, bus, motorcycle and even on foot across America and beyond, searching for answers to the motivating questions for this course: what is the attraction of the open road, and how is the romance of its call embraced and challenged by the multiple genres of these films, the concerns of the decades in which they were produced, and the limits they impose on the idea of unrestricted travel, individual growth and independence. A secondary goal of this class is to familiarize students with the language and concepts of film art and criticism. To that end, we'll pair our films with readings from Bordwell, Thompson and Smith's influential textbook Film Art: an Introduction. Students will therefore not only be immersed in the themes specific to this course, but will also learn how to analyze and speak about film as a medium.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Barnhart, L. (PI)

ENGLISH 131C: A.I.: Artificial Intelligence in Fiction

From self-driving cars to bots that alter democratic elections, artificial intelligence is growing increasingly powerful and prevalent in our everyday lives. Fiction has long been speculating about the techno-utopia¿and catastrophe¿that A.I. could usher in. Indeed, fiction itself presents us with a kind of A.I. in the many characters that speak and think in its pages. So what constitutes an ¿intelligence¿ within literature or technology? In either field, is it ever possible to overcome the problem of other minds? Is there an ultimate boundary that demarcates bodies from machines? This course will begin with Mary Shelley¿s Frankenstein (1818) and Edgar Allan Poe¿s ¿Maelzel¿s Chess Player¿ (1836), then proceed through works such as Samuel Butler¿s Erewhon (1872), Isaac Asimov¿s I, Robot (1950), Stanley Kubrick¿s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Stanford lecturer Scott Hutchins¿s A Working Theory of Love (2012), including a possible visit from Hutchins. Throughout, we will be asking ourselves what makes someone¿or something¿a person in our world today.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Tackett, J. (PI)

ENGLISH 132C: Cosmopolitan Crime: Global Detective Fiction

Detective fiction is one of the most popular genres in the world. It is also, interestingly, one of the most international genres as well. In this course, we¿ll look at a selection of globally oriented detective stories, from the Sherlock Holmes to The Tunnel, and explore the ways in which detective fiction participates in the global imagination. How do these detective stories represent the tension between community and cultural difference? How do conceptions of cultural or racial ¿otherness¿ influence views of suspicion, guilt or innocence? How far does detective fiction fulfill a cosmopolitan ideal of transnational justice, and in what ways does it fall short? As we analyze the conventions of the detective genre and consider how it examines issues faced by our increasingly globalized community¿including immigration, imperialism, identity politics, and terrorism¿we¿ll ask larger questions about the nature of community, morality, law, and justice across national and cultural boundaries.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Liu, Y. (PI)

ENGLISH 133C: King Arthur's Court: Medieval and Modern

Thomas Malory's Arthurian epic Le Morte D'Arthur (The Death of Arthur) is often thought of as the last medieval English text. As a prose narrative describing the gradual annihilation of King Arthur's legendary court at Camelot and the disintegration of the medieval courtly values that once held it together, the book seems to be a fitting swan song for what we think of as the English middle ages. In this course students will read Malory's Middle English legend of King Arthur in its historical and material context, developing an appreciation for its literary style and cultivating an awareness of the medieval traditions and technologies that shaped the author's work. We will then read T. H. White's The Once and Future King, a 20th century Arthurian novel based on Le Morte D'Arthur, and students will compare White's interpretation and adaptation to their own encounter with Malory's text. This course examines how authors and readers confront and imagine the medieval, and how the quest to capture the elusive idea of the dark ages illuminates the preoccupations of the present.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Ashton, M. (PI)

ENGLISH 134C: The Western: Imagining the West in Fiction and Film (AMSTUD 134C)

The Wild West: a mythical place seared deep into the American imagination. Its familiar tropes lone riders on horseback, desert sunsets, saloon fights, train robberies echo through countless Western stories, novels, films, radio programs, and television series. Both formulaic and flexible, the Western has endured as a popular genre in American culture for more than a century, embodying and responding to many of the nation's broader anxieties surrounding its colonial history, its notions of masculinity and gender roles, its fascination with guns and violence, and its ideals of self-reliance and individualism. In this class we'll examine the Western genre through a selection of its central works in fiction and film, from the first dime novel Western, Ann S. Stephens Malaeska (1860), to Cormac McCarthy¿s acclaimed Blood Meridian (1985); and from the first silent film Western, Edwin S. Porter's The Great Train Robbery (1903), to the mid-century Hollywood films of John Ford, to Maggie Green more »
The Wild West: a mythical place seared deep into the American imagination. Its familiar tropes lone riders on horseback, desert sunsets, saloon fights, train robberies echo through countless Western stories, novels, films, radio programs, and television series. Both formulaic and flexible, the Western has endured as a popular genre in American culture for more than a century, embodying and responding to many of the nation's broader anxieties surrounding its colonial history, its notions of masculinity and gender roles, its fascination with guns and violence, and its ideals of self-reliance and individualism. In this class we'll examine the Western genre through a selection of its central works in fiction and film, from the first dime novel Western, Ann S. Stephens Malaeska (1860), to Cormac McCarthy¿s acclaimed Blood Meridian (1985); and from the first silent film Western, Edwin S. Porter's The Great Train Robbery (1903), to the mid-century Hollywood films of John Ford, to Maggie Greenwald¿s feminist Western, The Ballad of Little Jo (1993). Along the way we'll examine the Western as both a literary form and a cultural phenomenon, probing the history of its enduring appeal as a genre. How do these novels and films construct, adapt, and subvert the form and expectations of the Western, and how do they both perpetuate and challenge the broader cultural problems of their, and our, time? Finally, as Californians and inheritors of the nation's westward expansion, what does the Western tell us about national myths of the West, and the place in which we live?
Terms: not given this year | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

ENGLISH 135C: Reading and Writing the Personal Essay

This course examines the literary and cultural significance of the personal essay. We will begin with some influential theories of the essay, and conclude by considering the changing media from periodicals to blogs in which it appears. In between, we will explore some of the many reasons writers have had for writing themselves into their essays, such as explaining their personal tastes, demanding action from their readers, bearing witness to trauma, and making the personal political. Course readings will be drawn from across the rich history of the personal essay, including works by Charles Lamb, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Alice Walker, David Foster Wallace, Elif Batuman, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. As we explore the literary history, structure, and style of the personal essay, we will also reflect on what this genre reveals about the modern person. How are individuals shaped by social, cultural, and political forces? How are the ways we construc more »
This course examines the literary and cultural significance of the personal essay. We will begin with some influential theories of the essay, and conclude by considering the changing media from periodicals to blogs in which it appears. In between, we will explore some of the many reasons writers have had for writing themselves into their essays, such as explaining their personal tastes, demanding action from their readers, bearing witness to trauma, and making the personal political. Course readings will be drawn from across the rich history of the personal essay, including works by Charles Lamb, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Alice Walker, David Foster Wallace, Elif Batuman, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. As we explore the literary history, structure, and style of the personal essay, we will also reflect on what this genre reveals about the modern person. How are individuals shaped by social, cultural, and political forces? How are the ways we construct and express ourselves affected by changes in the media? And what might the personal essay reveal about the shifting boundaries between self and other, public and private, fact and fiction? Throughout the course, students will complete a series of short critical assignments, culminating in a final paper in which they will apply what they have learned to produce personal essays of their own.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Taylor, M. (PI)

ENGLISH 143A: American Indian Mythology, Legend, and Lore (AMSTUD 143M, ENGLISH 43A, NATIVEAM 143A)

(English majors and others taking 5 units, register for 143A.) Readings from American Indian literatures, old and new. Stories, songs, and rituals from the 19th century, including the Navajo Night Chant. Tricksters and trickster stories; war, healing, and hunting songs; Aztec songs from the 16th century. Readings from modern poets and novelists including N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, and Leslie Marmon Silko, and the classic autobiography, "Black Elk Speaks."
Terms: Aut | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-AmerCul, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

ENGLISH 144: Major Modernists: Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Katherine Mansfield, T. S. Eliot

What made modernism `new? Is the movement `evergreen? We examine representational change, narrative innovation, and political aesthetics in the poetry, short fiction, and novels of four iconic pioneers: Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Katherine Mansfield, and T.S. Eliot.
Terms: Spr | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

ENGLISH 145D: Jewish American Literature (AMSTUD 145D, JEWISHST 155D, REES 145D)

From its inception, Jewish-American literature has taken as its subject as well as its context the idea of Jewishness itself. Jewish culture is a diasporic one, and for this reason the concept of Jewishness differs from country to country and across time. What stays remarkably similar, though, is Jewish self-perception and relatedly Jewish literary style. This is as true for the first-generation immigrant writers like Isaac Bashevis Singer and Anzia Yezierska who came to the United States from abroad as it is for their second-generation children born in the United States, and the children of those children. In this course, we will consider the difficulties of displacement for the emigrant generation and their efforts to sustain their cultural integrity in the multicultural American environment. We'll also examine the often comic revolt of their American-born children and grandchildren against their (grand-)parents nostalgia and failure to assimilate. Only by considering these transnati more »
From its inception, Jewish-American literature has taken as its subject as well as its context the idea of Jewishness itself. Jewish culture is a diasporic one, and for this reason the concept of Jewishness differs from country to country and across time. What stays remarkably similar, though, is Jewish self-perception and relatedly Jewish literary style. This is as true for the first-generation immigrant writers like Isaac Bashevis Singer and Anzia Yezierska who came to the United States from abroad as it is for their second-generation children born in the United States, and the children of those children. In this course, we will consider the difficulties of displacement for the emigrant generation and their efforts to sustain their cultural integrity in the multicultural American environment. We'll also examine the often comic revolt of their American-born children and grandchildren against their (grand-)parents nostalgia and failure to assimilate. Only by considering these transnational roots can one understand the particularity of the Jewish-American novel in relation to mainstream and minority American literatures. In investigating the link between American Jewish writers and their literary progenitors, we will draw largely but not exclusively from Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe.
Terms: Spr | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-AmerCul, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

ENGLISH 146A: Steinbeck (AMSTUD 146A)

Introduction to the work of an American writer, beloved by general readers, often reviled by critics, whose career spanned from the Great Depression through World War II to the social upheavals of the 1960s. Focus on the social and political contexts of Steinbeck's major works; his fascination with California and Mexico; his interdisciplinary interest in marine biology and in philosophy; his diverse experiments with literary form, including drama and film.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-AmerCul, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
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