English 182 - Winter, 2017

Literature of California

Class Information

Instructor: Martín, Desirée
CRN: 44093
Time: TR 12:10-1:30
Location: 290 Gym


    California has routinely been considered a land of contradiction. It is a land of golden dreams – a popular tourist destination, a magnet for immigrants, and a place where adventurers seek fame and fortune. But it is also a land of illusion – a toxic dystopia of environmental injustice, racial tensions and riots, and financial crisis. Taking these contradictions as a given, we will study the multiple cultures of California especially through the lens of space and temporality. We will begin from the premise that California is a space that cannot be understood without thinking about its relation to transnational and national spaces and temporalities even as it is firmly situated in the regional and the local. In particular, we will examine circuits of migration, circulation, and smuggling of bodies and commodities, both “legal” and illicit, in order to interrogate the intersection of race, technology, citizenship, and geographies in relation to California.


    Parable of the Sower (1993), Octavia Butler
    The Big Sleep (1939), Raymond Chandler
    Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968), Joan Didion
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000) , Dave Eggers
    If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945), Chester Himes
    Twilight, Los Angeles 1992, Anna Deavere Smith
    The Tattooed Soldier, Hector Tobar
    The Day of the Locust (1939), Nathanael West
    Under the Feet of Jesus (1995), Helena Maria Viramontes
    And excerpts from selected other works