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ENG574: Literature of California

California is famous for its literal, meteorological fog, but no other state is as shrouded in the fog of myth, dream and reinvention when it comes to identity, culture or landscape.

California is famous for its literal, meteorological fog, but no other state is as shrouded in the fog of myth, dream and reinvention when it comes to identity, culture or landscape. This course will focus on California's rich literary heritage and its development throughout the state's complicated history, mostly from the late 19th century to the present. We'll read across genres to explore topics that span the rise of the military-industrial complex to the natural beauty of Big Sur, from Hollywood and "noir" to Japanese-American internment camps, "water wars" to surfing, and Disneyland to migrant labor. Texts might include work by Raymond Chandler, Joan Didion, Thomas Pynchon, Amy Tan, Chester Himes, Christopher Isherwood, Robinson Jeffers, M.F.K. Fisher, Marisa Silver, Toshio Mori, Robert Hass, Gary Soto and others, with supplementary sociohistorical context works by Mike Davis and Kevin Starr, and viewing of films (Chinatown, Zabriskie Point, One California Day) and photography (Edward Weston). Written assignments will include weekly short critical analyses, with the occasional foray into creative genres and parody.