English 188A - Fall, 2016

Topics in Literary & Critical Theory

    Topic: The Aesthetics of Air

Class Information

Instructor: Hsu, Hsuan
CRN: 32534
Time: MW 10:00-11:20
Location: 248 Voorhies


    Beginning with the Industrial era’s “London fog” and ending with the contemporary smog crisis in China (where people are purchasing cans of air shipped in from the Canadian Rockies), we’ll consider how writers, artists, environmentalists, and cultural theorists have responded to modernity’s increasing tendencies toward air pollution and “air conditioning”—or the partitioning and engineering of air. How do writers describe aerial aspects of setting, breath, voice, weather, and smell in an era when we can no longer take the air for granted as an undifferentiated medium? Reading literary and cultural texts alongside environmental criticism and aesthetic theory, we’ll consider topics such as L.A. smog, dust, atmospheric warfare, olfactory marketing, and pesticide exposure, focusing on how artists draw attention to invisible and often unnoticed airborne particulates.


    30% participation, attendance, response papers, and in-class assignments; 15% shorter essay; 30% longer essay; 25% final exam


    Vandover and the Brute, Norris
    Terror from the Air, Sloterdijk
    Animal's People, Sinha
    Their Dogs Came With Them, Viramontes
    thisconnectionofeveryonewithlungs, Spahr
    Dust, Marder