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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Terris L S Patterson
ENGL 200
Seattle Campus

Reading Literary Forms

Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

"Fables of Control"

Our analysis will focus on different dystopias of governmental control, how evolutions in mass-market media and technology either reinforce or inhibit their development, and finally how these mechanisms manifest themselves among different social classes and immigrant populations. It includes classic texts, such as Huxley’s chilling portrait of an almost unrecognizable repression in the form of a society drugged into perpetual happiness in Brave New World, to Orwell’s dystopian vision of a government that uses fear to control the masses in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Once we have surveyed these chilling tales of control, the class will turn its attention to¬ the recent rise of state-sponsored technologies of surveillance and application. Postman’s Technopoly charts the technology’s historical progression through three defined periods; in the current and final stage, technology overtakes culture and replaces many of the established fabrics of society: interpersonal communications, religion, education, and various social institutions. DeLillo’s White Noise centers on the media and advertising, claiming that its presence predominates to such an extent that people have become oblivious, mindless corporate-dictated consumption robots. The class’ final rubric is devoted to examining--how different socio-economic classes, races, and ethnicities--fit as cogs into this rapidly evolving societal wheel through realist chronicles of working class labour struggles. Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed attacks the common notions that the government has fixed the atrocities of the past through the advent of minimum wage and the legal allowance of labour unions by uncovering the underground economy of the “working poor”—a category that expands to include many whom we would consider middle or lower-middle class. Her thesis reveals the--need to replace the outdated and insufficient minimum wage with a “living wage.” Finishing with Boyle’s Tortilla Curtain allows for the examination of another class divide—one that is racially based. Using the Méxican-American border and its inhabitants as examples, it illuminates many misconceptions ¬about both legal and illegal immigration and the stereotypes of the people who live them everyday in search of the prototypical “American Dream.”

NOTE: I may (and probably will) substitute Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale and the V for Vendetta graphic novel for a couple of the listed texts.

Past texts have included: Boyle, Thomas. Tortilla Curtain. (Penguin) ISBN: 014023828X Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. (Del Ray 50th Anniversary) ISBN: 0345342968 DeLillo, Don. White Noise. (Penguin) ISBN: 0140077022 Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed (Owl) ISBN: 0805063897 Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. (Perennial) ISBN: 0060929871 Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. (Plume) ISBN: 0452284236 Postman, Neil. Technopoly. (Vintage) ISBN: 0679745408

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Terris L S Patterson
Date: 11/04/2011