English 53 - Fall, 2019

Youth in Revolt

Class Information

Instructor: Ronda, Margaret
CRN: 63202
Time: TR 4:40-6:00
Location: 115 Hutchison


    What does it mean to be a “bad kid”? This course will explore American literary representations of adolescence as a time of rebellious refusals and wild behaviors. We’ll study texts that pathologize the young for their refusal to conform or that detail the pleasures and virtues of youthful rebellion. We’ll ask how these texts portray childhood and adulthood in relation to questions of gender and sexuality, psychological states (dream, anxiety, fear, boredom, desire), racial inequality, economic pressures, methods of discipline and punishment, and civic participation. We’ll think about the larger social conditions in which these representations of misfits emerge, from slavery and Jim Crow segregation to the repressions and suburban consumerism of 1950s America to late capitalism’s conditions of debt and austerity. We will focus sustained attention on the formal and narrative techniques by which these texts explore rebellious behaviors, anarchic desires, and revolutionary potentialities.


    Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
    Black Boy, Richard Wright
    The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
    The Girls, Emma Cline
    Black Hole, Charles Burns
    Humanimal, Bhanu Kapil