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Literature Undergraduate Course Descriptions Summer Session 2016


Instructor: Stephanie Jed

This course will focus on the representation and politics of food in cinema and literature.  What do we know about the food system?  How do we organize our knowledge?  We will examine topics such as food and poverty, the fast food industry, the slow food movement, the GMO controversy, myths about hunger and more. The premise in organizing this course is that we are all indispensable members of the food system and therefore, we have the power/obligation to work, think, and eat in positive ways to make this system more equitable and healthy. This obligation might include: 1) acknowledging the inter-linguistic/intercultural dimension of food; 2) a concern for relationships; and 3) taking what we learn in this course and teaching others.

Global Seminar Location: Tokyo, Japan
Instructor: Babak Rahimi

This course examines the relationship between culture and technology through the study of Japanese film. While technology is the predominated mode by which we increasingly conduct our everyday lives, it is through cultural processes that technology is also shaped. But is it? In this seminar we study this complex relationship and conceptualize different ways of thinking about film technology and its cultural manifestations through urban life. With the city of Tokyo as a focal point, we study how cinema participates in shaping everyday urban landscape, and how, simultaneously, cultures of design, organizational and industrial operations can impact the way cinema is constructed and institutionalized through daily urban life.

Tokyo is an ideal location for a course on cinematic culture and technology.  It is a city rich with history and one of the most technologically advanced urban centers in East Asia. With its numerous museums, we will explore urban cultures and the broader Japanese society while connecting it with global economic and technological processes. Moving outside of Tokyo, cities like Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Koyto serve as ideal places to teach about major technological developments, inparticular military ones. Kyoto also can serve as an excellent city to explore the relationship between film, religion and urban life. Known as “the city of thousand temples” and once a capital city of the emperor (from 794-1868), Kyoto’snumerous Zen temples such as Toji, Byodoin, and Daitokuji represent a fascinating example of how Zen Buddhism has and continue to played a critical role in the formation of Japanese modernity in light of dramatic modernization projects since the Meji period (1868-1912).

Visit http://globalseminar.ucsd.edu/ for a description of the Global Seminars program.

Genre Fiction and the Gothic in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Proposed Instructor: Kate Thompson

Gothic literature - dark, horrific, violent, scandalous, and sensational - is a foundational part of the United States’ literary tradition. The gothic has been used by a diverse array of authors to question the limits of human knowledge, rationality, and the individual. In this course we will explore how concerns over the self, society and the production of knowledge are intimately related to questions of class, race, and gender. During the long nineteenth century the US saw imperial wars, westward expansion, the influx of industrial capitalism and the battle over the place of slavery within the nation’s ideological framework. We will examine how gothic literature responds to and shapes the social, political and economic changes these events created. Reading gothic as a mode, not just as a strict genre, we will account for how the gothic style was employed in westerns, slave narratives, sensational novels and detective stories.

Readings will include texts students might have some familiarity with, like that of Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, but also works that may be less familiar, like the sensational popular fiction of George Thompson and Louisa May Alcott. Questions we will consider: Do different genres possess a particular utility? How does the gothic allow authors and readers to negotiate intense social and political change? Why are readers drawn to the terrifying and ‘unthinkable’? How does the gothic both shape and react to changing attitudes towards knowledge, gender, race and the individual? This course meets the (c) requirement for US Lit before 1860 for Literature in English major.

Early American Pirate Literature: Formative Seas & Modern Waves

Proposed Instructor: Mark Kelley

The sea was (and is) more than the abstract space between bodies of land. This seminar will map the formation of American pirate literature with an eye to the sea and maritime culture. The course contains not only novels and short fiction, but also includes maps, journals, scientific treatises, and poetry related to piracy. Using these texts, we will consider the generic, geologic, sexual, and racial fluidity of American identities, as well as their connection to oceanic systems of exchange and bondage. The course will tie these prior national investments in policing oceanic space to ongoing debates regarding maritime piracy.

In addition to short writing assignments, students will engage manuscript sources as part of a final project.  We may also take a field trip to the San Diego Maritime Museum!

This course meets the (c) requirement for US Lit before 1860 for Literature in English major.

Black & Latino Mystery Fiction
(Cross-listed with ETHN 168)

Propsed Instructor: Crystal Perez

This course examines mystery fiction by Latina/o and Black authors and how they deploy this genre to speak about their relationship to the city and the police-state; retaking and reshaping the “traditional” mystery formula for their own socio-political commentary.


Instructor: Beatrice Pita

This course will examine issues of gender, sexuality, and culture in Spanish, Latin American, and/or Chicana/o literatures.

Repeatable for credit as topics, texts, and historical periods vary.

Prerequisites: upper-division standing or LTSP 50A or 50B or 50C.


Global Seminar Location: Rome, Italy
Instructor: Stephanie Jed

This course examines the city of Rome from a cultural, literary and historical perspective. We will be learning about Rome through reading, walking, and experiencing the streets, churches, and monuments of the city. Themes to be addressed include: antiquity, pilgrimage, urbanization, Baroque design, politics, and foreign visitors.

Visit http://globalseminar.ucsd.edu/ for a description of the Global Seminars program.

Re-imagining the Spanish Civil War

Global Seminar Location: Grenada, Spain
Instructor: Robert Cancel

For three or four generations of progressive, activist youth, the Spanish Civil War stood out as one of the last “pure” struggles of democracy against fascist totalitarianism. When a group of Spanish generals mutinied in 1936 and set out to topple a legally elected leftist government, not only Spaniards but volunteers from all over Europe and the Americas set out to beat back this threat to the new Republic. Writers such as Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell and Andre Malraux reported on and/or participated in this conflict on the side of the Republican government and its allies in the socialist and anarchist camps. We will read selections from some of these writers, including For Whom the Bell Tolls, Homage to Barcelona, and Man’s Fate. 

Visit http://globalseminar.ucsd.edu/ for a description of the Global Seminars program.

Latin American Film

Instructor: Jacobo Myerston

In this course we will study how Latin America is portrayed in five recent avant-garde movies. We will pay special attention to the representation of social class, gender, ethnicity, and the location of Latin America in global history.

Writing a Campus

Instructor: Ben Doller

In this course we will us our built and natural environment at UCSD as source material, writing, reading, and discussing poems in many different spaces on campus, and examining the impact this environment has on our writing.