English 182 - Fall, 2015

Literature of California

Class Information

Instructor: Hicks, Jack
CRN: 73374
Time: TR 3:10-4:30
Location: 251 Olson


    In c. 1510, Garci Ordóñez de Montalvo published a popular Spanish romance, The Adventures of Esplandiàn, in which he imagined a "fantastic island very near the Terrestrial Paradise." He paved his streets with gold, and set the warrior Queen Calafia in power, a statuesque Amazon who captured men for breeding and thereafter fed them (live) to her griffins. Ordóñez called his island "California," and his romance named the state and offered the first mythic vision of the largest, most populous and most controversial political entity in the United States. This course examines literary treatments of the Golden State, ranging from Ordóñez' fantasy and early tales of the indigenous Indian peoples before Euroamerican "discovery," to 19th- and 20th-century prose and poetry by Mark Twain, Helen Hunt Jackson, John Muir, Robinson Jeffers, Raymond Chandler, David Mas Masumoto, Héctor Tobar and Octavia Butler. Readings include tall tales from the Gold Rush; the epic poetry of the stormy Pacific; tough-guy noir detective stories; a lyric celebration of a Central Valley family farm; a novel of Guatemalan immigrants who transpose their civil war to California during the Rodney King riots; and a feminist science fiction narrative of the trek out of Los Angeles on freeways (and on foot), "back to the country" after the city collapses.


    Midterm, one paper, final exam


    Epitaph For a Peach, Masumoto
    The Tattooed Soldier, Tobar
    Parable of the Sower, Butler
    The Literature of California, Hicks, et al.