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Instructor Class Description

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Edmond Y Chang
ENGL 242
Seattle Campus

Reading Prose Fiction

Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.

Class description

"Not Your Average High School Novel Class: Re-Reading American Literature" ENGL 242 C: Reading Fiction M-TH 10:30-11:20 AM UPCOMING SPRING 2013 Edmond Y. Chang, Ph.D.

MAYA ANGELOU once said, "When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young." It is this sense that literature is important, that literature can reveal something about ourselves and the world, and that reading is a practice and lifeway maintained and sustained over time that is central to this class. In other words, literature is more than just words on a page, literacy is not a destination or a merit badge, and reading is as much about rereading as writing is as much about revising. This class will take up reading and rereading as critical practice by pointedly revisiting literature commonly taught in high school curricula in the US, literature needing rescue and revivification from this-is-so-boring mindsets, from the constraints of teaching-for-the-tests, and from the too easy themes and summaries of notes by Cliff and Spark. This is not your usual high school novel class. Texts may include in whole or in excerpt the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Nella Larsen, J.D. Salinger, Ray Bradbury, Harper Lee, Toni Morrison, Art Spiegelman, and Suzanne Collins.

A REQUIREMENT for this class is a well-developed curiosity about the world, about the culture we live in, and about the cultural productions we imagine, produce, and consume. In other words, this class is about reading, critiquing, and analyzing our culture through literature. Martin Lister and Liz Wells, authors of "Seeing Beyond Belief," argue for just this kind of curiosity, a methodology for unpacking cultural productions, such as novels or images or websites or film; they say, “Cultural Studies allows the analyst to attend to the many moments within the cycle of production, circulation and consumption of [a text] through which meanings accumulate, slip and shift" (Reading Contexts 459). They argue that our understandings of identities, meanings, and power, as well as the intersections of cultural and social locations like race, gender, class, nation, and sexuality, can be excavated through the analysis of the texts we create and consume. This class will spend the quarter reading, thinking, writing about various fictions and how and what these texts argue, reveal, narrate, hide, perpetuate, and complicate the world we live in.

FINALLY, as a class, we will engage the techniques and practices of reading and enjoying literature. We will identify and develop different ways to read different kinds of texts and understand and develop strategies, habits, and perspectives of reading, thinking, and writing. Foremost, we will read with pleasure and for pleasure. We will also rhetorically read, close read, read for analysis. And lastly, we will read and deploy literature as theory, as dramatizing the concerns, wonders, struggles, and politics of lived life and experience. The class counts for W credit, requiring you to complete 10-15 pages of revised writing including a set of short response papers culminating in a longer major paper project.

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"Cyberpunk: Past, Present, & Future" ENGL 242 E: Reading Fiction M-TH 1:30-2:20 PM CURRENT WINTER 2013 Dr. Edmond Chang

BRUCE STERLING argues in the introduction of the 1986 anthology Mirrorshades that "cyberpunks are perhaps the first SF generation to grow up not only within the literary tradition of science fiction but in a truly science-fictional world" (xi). Even as cyberpunk looked to the future, according to the introduction, "a final oddity of our generation in SF" is that, for writers like Sterling, William Gibson, and others, "the literature of the future has a long and honored past" (xv). It is this past, present, and future of cyberpunk fiction and culture that will be the occasions for close reading, thoughtful exploration, and critical analysis. What might cyberpunk reveal to us, reveal about us, and reveal about the world we live in? We will consider a "long history" of cyberpunk that stretches the whole of the twentieth century, looking back at cyberpunk’s predecessors, up through cyberpunk’s heyday, and into the twenty-first century, what might be called post-cyberpunk. Readings will include in whole or in part: Aldous Huxley, Vannevar Bush, William S. Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, James Tiptree, Jr., Vernor Vinge, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Larissa Lai, and Ernest Cline.

A REQUIREMENT for this class is a well-developed curiosity about the world, about the culture we live in, and about the cultural productions we imagine, produce, and consume. In other words, this class is about reading, critiquing, and analyzing our culture through literature. Our understandings of identities, meanings, and power, as well as the intersections of cultural and social locations like race, gender, class, nation, and sexuality, can be excavated through the analysis of the texts we create and consume. This class will spend the quarter reading, thinking, writing about various fictions and how and what these texts argue, reveal, narrate, hide, perpetuate, and complicate the world we live in.

FINALLY, as a class, we will engage the techniques and practices of reading and enjoying literature. We will identify and develop different ways to read different kinds of texts—from fiction to scholarship to visual and digital—and understand and develop strategies, habits, and perspectives of reading, thinking, and writing. Foremost, we will read with pleasure and for pleasure. We will also rhetorically read, close read, read for analysis. And lastly, we will read and deploy literature as theory, as dramatizing the concerns, wonders, struggles, and politics of lived life and experience. The class counts for W credit, requiring you to complete 10-15 pages of revised writing including a set of short response papers culminating in a longer major paper project.

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 Edmond Y Chang
Date: 02/22/2013