Topics Courses

Winter 2019

Each quarter, the English Department offers variable topics courses such as English 315 (Studies in a Literary Genre), English 324 (Studies in Literary Topics) and English 515 (Senior Seminar). Because the topics change each quarter, the courses may be repeated for credit . Those scheduled for Winter 2019 are described below. 

Winter 2019 Topics Classes
ENG 315 Detective Fiction, Professor Pigeon - Tues/Thurs. 2:00 p.m.
This course will explore the development of the immensely popular genre of British and American detective fiction. Course topics will include the works' popularity, their intended audiences, and the social and cultural issues they address, as well as their narrative technique. Considering patterns that evolve in the earlier works, we’ll look at how these are revised or revisited in more contemporary examples of the genre. Works will include novels or short stories by seminal figures such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Raymond Chandler, as well as more recent examples of the genre. No experience reading detective fiction necessary!
ENG 319 Immigrant Narratives, Palm Desert Campus, Professor Roszak- Tues. 1:00 p.m.
This course offers intensive study of modern and contemporary fiction that explores diverse experiences of immigration to the United States. There will be a special focus on how gender and socioeconomic status interact with ethnicity in shaping immigration stories. Representative authors include Jose Antonio Villarreal, Mario Puzo, Gish Jen, Jhumpa Lahiri, Julia Alvarez, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
ENG 321 Talkin About Race, Professor Smith - Mon./Wed. 6:00 p.m.
How we talk about ourselves and others in everyday language. Since the Obama presidency, and now in the age of Trump, race has been alluded to in many different ways, directly and indirectly. In this course, we will examine how it comes up in everyday conversation, blogs, listservs, and TV, YouTube and radio talk. We will look at how we frame race politically or in terms of ourselves. We will also look at how particular groups are represented in the media, as well as popular TV shows and movies. This is a great course to take if you are interested in real- life American English and the cultural contexts of social beliefs and how they are reflected in the way we talk.
ENG 324 Pirates, Privateers, & Castaways in History, Literature, and Film, Professor Ramirez - Online
This seminar invites students to analyze the representation of pirates, privateers and castaways in history, literature and film. Our course begins with an examination of real English pirates and privateers from the 1500-1700s, such as Sir Francis Drake and Henry Morgan. We’ll continue our investigation of piracy and shipwreck in the literary and cinematic imagination by situating within their cultural context fiction by authors such as Daniel Defoe and Robert Louis Stevenson and films such as Pirates of the Caribbean. A fully online course, students should be familiar with Blackboard and be prepared to rent or buy films, as assigned.

ENG 463 Garbage in 20th and 21st Century Literature, Professor J. Luck - Mon./Wed. 4:00 p.m.
The isolated and disillusioned speaker of T.S. Eliot’s famous poem finds himself in a “waste land” and describes his poem as “These fragments I have shored against my ruins.”  The seven dwarves of Donald Barthelme’s Snow White determine that the world is becoming 100% trash, and “we will simply have to learn how to ‘dig’ it.”  In this course, we will focus on literary responses to the proliferation of garbage in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, using the phenomenon to explore the shift between modernism and postmodernism.  We will certainly consider how these texts address the profound sociological, ecological, and even philosophical implications of garbage in Western culture.  But we will also examine the texts’ experimentation with the formal possibilities of waste—various garbage aesthetics of compacting, recycling, or composting.
ENG 513-01 Autobiography, Professor Brown - Tues./Thurs. 4:00 p.m.
This course focuses on the art and craft of memoir writing, drawing material from the student's personal life and helping shape it into a well-constructed, insightful story, using elements of scene, dialogue, character and setting, much as you might in a fictional story.
ENG 513-02 (A)Symmetical Hybridities: An Introduction to Literary Hybridities, Professor Penaredondo - Mon./Wed. 4:00 p.m.
This is an intensive reading and writing course that investigates, challenges and enlarges the creative possibilities of writing within hybrid literary genres. Additionally, the course aims to develop craft criticism and analysis through the engagement of works by feminists and queer writers of color.
ENG 515 The Pulitzer, Professor Pak - Mon./Wed. 6:00 p.m.
Quite often when we read, we (are told to) distinguish between “highbrow” and “lowbrow” fiction, or “reading for work” and “reading for pleasure,” between “good writing” and “bad writing” as though the definitions of these terms are firmly fixed. In other words, reading, as with any other cultural commodity we consume, is linked to judgment, value and worth – what you read supposedly indicates who you are. Our course will work with, through and challenge this concept of literary merit by examining five novels that have won the Pulitzer Prize in  Fiction. As we read, we will ask ourselves the following questions, among others: how does an institution, such as the Pulitzer, determine which text is worthy of recognition? Is there a set list of characteristics that exemplifies a Pulitzer Prize winning novel? How do the historical, cultural and political moments that surround publication guide us as we read? In addition, as we ask  and attempt to answer these questions throughout the quarter, we will simultaneously engage in serious literary scholarship to investigate the assigned texts for their content, form, structure and argument. As befitting a senior seminar, this course will culminate in a final research project.