Reading and Composition (R&C)

R1B.001: Celebrity Status: The Art of Being Famous

Tu/W/Th/10:00-12:30 214 Haviland Instructor: Johnathan Vaknin

Session A
TuWTh, 10am-12:30pm
214 Haviland Hall
Johnathan Vakninvaknin

“In the future,” the pop artist Andy Warhol once said, “everybody will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” In an age of social media, when Facebook and Instagram “likes” and followers on Twitter seem to be measures of our celebrity status, Warhol’s prescient observation appears to ring especially true. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 28205

R1B.002: The Real Housewives of Comparative Literature

Tu/W/Th 03:00-05:30 210 Dwinelle Instructor: Jordan Greenwald

Session D
TuWTh, 3-5:30pm
210 Dwinelle
Jordan Greenwald

This course will examine a long legacy of cultural fascination with domestic space and its iconic caretaker, the housewife. We will discuss literary texts and films that feature housewives as their protagonists, from Milton to Virginia Woolf to the present. Our task will be twofold: we will work to appreciate, on the one hand, how the texts engage with a longstanding (and ongoing) feminist critique of the tethering of women to domestic labor; on the other hand, we will try to understand why the housewife endures as a key aspect of the fantasy of “the good life.” What can literary representations of housewives tell us about the aspirations and assumptions surrounding our everyday lives – in the past and in the present?

This is a writing-intensive course, and we will explore all of these issues as a means of refining writing skills. Students will write and re-write a number of essays, and writing “workshops” will occur on a weekly basis. The final portion of the course will be spent on developing research skills, and will culminate in a research paper on one of the texts we have studied.

Required Texts:

Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

Required Film Screenings:

Douglas Sirk, Imitation of Life
Todd Haynes, Safe
Chantal Akerman, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Additional readings in course reader by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, John Milton, Hannah Arendt, Emily Dickinson, Jennifer O’Grady, and more.





Course Catalog Number: 28210


N 60AC: We Gotta Get Out of This Place: American Separatism from the 19th Century to Now

Tu/W/Th 03:00-05:30 251 Dwinelle Instructor: Jessica Crewe

Session D
TuWTh, 3-5:30pm
251 Dwinelle Hall
Jessica Crewe

Even as we prepare to mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War (on May 9th, 2015), secessionist movements — from Texas’s ongoing struggles to regain its status as a separate nation to the anti-corporate Second Vermont Republic independence effort — are still going strong. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 28220

N 60AC: Topics in the Literature of American Cultures

The America(n) Underground

Tu/W/Th/10:00-12:30 81 Evans Instructor: Kathryn Crim

Session D
TuWTh, 10am-12:30pm
81 Evans Hall
Kathryn Crim

America has a special romance with what’s underground: from the Gold Rush to the oil fields to fracking, we’ve long imagined a secret store of wealth and resources beneath the soil, even as we also fear enough won’t ever be found there. In California especially, a legacy of worrying and warring over the groundwater stretches from the “water wars” of the early 20th century to our most recent ballot Proposition 1, which sought to manage the care and movement of water to various parts of the state.

There is, of course, another American underground: the sites and networks of cultural innovation, political radicalism, and social protest. In the 19th century, ex-slaves escaped the southern United States along an Underground Railroad of sympathetic abolitionists. In the 20th century various groups continued to borrow on this figurative notion of being “underground”: the dissident Weather Underground, an avant-garde movement of “underground film,” even Lou Reed and John Cale’s Velvet Underground; feminist, queer, and socialist activists have often gathered “underground.” And sometimes underground is nothing more than an idea of retreat, refuge, or the grave.

This summer we’ll go on a tour of subcultures and subterranean byways, asking after the relationship between what’s literally stored or moving beneath the earth and what is figured as “underground” thought, action, music, or art. Is there an intimate connection between what’s taboo (or even criminal) and new forms of cultural production? From the dark streets of Los Angeles, to the oil fields of New Mexico, along the snaking subway, and into the basement, we’ll draw on a diverse collection of texts—films, poetry, music, fictional and nonfictional narrative, protest literature, and critical essays. We’ll be particularly attune to how and why the “underground” seems like such an important metaphor for acts of resistance and experimental forms of representation. And we’ll ask what happens when what lies beneath emerges suddenly (sometimes in a gush or a flood) on the surface.

Films and Photography and Music:

Roman Polanski, Chinatown
John Cassavettes, Shadows
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Tony Silver, Style Wars
Emile de Antonio, Underground
Walker Evans, “Subway Portraits”
Bob Dylan, “Basement Tapes”

Poetry and Fiction:

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (selections)
Ralph Ellison Invisible Man (selections)
Edgar Allen Poe, “The Premature Burial” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”
Poetry by Hart Crane, Alice Notley, Muriel Rukeyser, William Carlos Williams

Selected critical work by Wendell Berry, Judith Butler, Rachel Carson, Manny Farber, Frederick Jameson, Greil Marcus, Walter Ong.

Course Catalog Number: 28225

N 60AC: The American Myth of Los Angeles

Tu/W/Th 01:00-03:30 243 Dwinelle Instructor: Marianne Kaletzky

Session D
TuWTh, 1-3:30pm
243 Dwinelle Hall
Marianne Kaletzky

If Los Angeles, at the center of the culture industry, is charged with representing America to the world, it is also obsessed with representing itself. According to its own mythology, there is no better place than L.A. to realize the quintessentially American dream of leaving the past behind and making one’s own destiny. And if L.A. considers itself the ideal setting for American self-fashioning, it also bills itself as the product of such a process: a city of big dreams and endless possibilities, built against the blank canvas of the desert. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 28230

N 60AC: American Odyssey : The Proliferation of Encounters

Instructor: Simona Schneider

Session D
TuWTh, 4:00 – 6:30pm
179 Dwinelle Hall
Simona Schneider

This class proposes to look at journeys of self-discovery that are also a discovery of diversity in the  American racial and cultural makeup as depicted in films and poems predominantly from the 1970s. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 aimed to end racial discrimination that prevented African Americans from voting, an important structural change, however attitudes surrounding the implementation of these rights continue to pose problems today. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 28225