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Topics Courses

Spring 2023 Topics Courses, Department of English, CSUSB

ENG 3300: R 5:30-8:15. Tutoring Writing: Theory and Praxis--Inside-Out Version.  (Alexandra Cavallaro)

This section of ENG 3300 is offered as part of our partnership with the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. The Inside-Out program brings together CSUSB students with incarcerated students for a semester-long course held at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco. These classes offer opportunities to encounter incarcerated people as equals and to work toward social change across frequently insurmountable barriers. These are great options for anyone considering a career as a teacher or for anyone interested in the connections between social justice and education. 

All students will travel to the CRC in Norco for class and will be required to complete a security clearance process with the Department of Corrections. Please see full description below and contact Dr. Cavallaro ( with questions or to request a permit. There are NO prerequisites for these courses.

To hear four CSUSB students talk about their Inside-Out experience in fall 2021, please watch this 20-minute YouTube video: 

This class will explore the teaching and tutoring of writing in a variety of contexts. All too often, writing teachers are assumed to be “good” writers who can easily “fix” students’ papers. Similarly, writing centers are often imagined as places where “struggling” writers can/should go to work on their “problems.” As the scare quotes in the previous sentences suggest, these assumptions are problematic. This course seeks to problematize these assumptions and, in so doing, introduce you to the field of both writing pedagogy and writing center studies.

In this course, we will examine the practices and pedagogies of teaching and tutoring writing in one-on-one, small group, and community contexts. We will also examine the ways that institutional contexts shape teaching and learning; the ways that power and authority shape teaching and learning; the interrelationships between language, power, identity, and education; and much more. At the end of this course, you will use what you have learned about writing praxis (theoretically informed practice) to develop your own philosophy of teaching and tutoring writing.

ENG 3620-01 MW 9:00-10:15 Rhetorics of Identity (Thomas Girshin)

Identity has long been of interest to scholars of rhetoric, often as something to be critiqued, a fallacy it becomes necessary to dispel. More recently scholars of rhetoric have pointed to the power of identity to build solidarity movements of resistance, and as a necessary function of writing. This course will investigate discourses and functions of identity in writing studies, giving you the opportunity to both better understand and draw on rhetorics of identity in your own work. We'll read texts from classical to contemporary rhetoric, including Plato, Raul Sanchez, and Jia Tolentino. We'll also write in varying genres, including rhetorical criticism and analysis and personal essay.

ENG 4410-01 TR 9:00-10:15 Toni Morrison (Robert Kyriakos Smith)

In this course we will engage in the intensive study of the work of Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.  Specifically, we will read the most popular and critically acclaimed novels in her oeuvre: The Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved, Jazz, A Mercy, and God Help the Child.  Also informing our discussion will be ideas that Morrison presents in her book of literary criticism, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination.

ENG 5130-01 F 9:00-11:45 World Building in Fiction and Poetry (Chad Sweeney)

In this writing workshop, students will discuss how master writers create the WORLD of their stories, novels and poems, and will explore and experiment with new writing techniques in order to heighten the sensory and imaginative experience for readers living inside their created worlds. Whether we write realistic urban fiction, science fiction or fantasy, poetry of imagism, philosophy, traumatic memory or ecopoetics—whether we write coming-of-age memoirs or zombie invasions—the art of WORLD BUILDING is essential to the fulfillment of our writing projects.

ENG 5150-01 MW 5:30-6:45 Nathanael West and the Modernist Gaze on Hollywood (Omar Moran)

This course is predicated on a simple premise: movies matter as much as literature. Movies reflect the concerns and desires of individuals and societies alike, which in turn, make them laboratories for cultural, political, and literary enactments. Movies also democratize the uses of the aesthetic with their ability to reach mass audiences in a condensed period of time, which, by the 1930s, drew the gaze of Modernist writers who sought to capitalize on this commercial and valuative potential. Authors such as William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Aldous Huxley (among others) wrote for the studios at various points in their careers, at times incorporating literary techniques embodied in their novels or poetry, and at other times, shifting away from them. Of the authors that went to Hollywood, the most indelible is Nathanael West. His novel The Day of the Locust is still regarded as one of the best exemplars of the Hollywood facsimile, emblematic of the dreamland that populated the American imagination at a time of suffering and despair. His works reveal the duty and responsibility that social awareness plays within and beyond the literary medium, and the uses of satire to destroy comforting myths, which made him beloved by his contemporaries, and an outcast to 1930s audiences. This course examines West as both a novelist and a screenwriter--a provocateur that navigated the diegetic spaces between the literary and cinematic. It will survey the cultural and historical significance of the 1930s and examine the intersections of literature and film in West’s works, aesthetically, stylistically, and prescriptively. In the process of studying West, students will become skilled in literary and cinematic analysis and will utilize this knowledge to shape literacy of genre, plot, setting, characterization, point of view, narrator/auteur, mise en scène, montage, lighting, camera angle, special effects, sound, speculative props, and other textual and visual devices. Moreover, students will identify the architectures and techniques of each artform as they overlap and diverge; explore the business of screenplay and adaptation from a textual, meta-textual, visual, and authorial perspective; and consider how the study of literature and film could be approached from imaginative, rhetorical and pedagogical modalities that can inform future studies or careers in English. As if all these things weren’t wonderful enough, free popcorn will be served during screening nights.

ENG 5150-60 TR 1:00-2:15 (ONLINE SYNCRONOUS) Conspiracism, Paranoia and Panic in Post-War American Literature (Steven Lehigh)

Perhaps you are wondering how American culture became pervaded by paranoia and conspiracy theories? If so, this course is for you. In “Self-Reliance,” Emerson wrote that “society everywhere is a conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members,” a compact statement of the rugged (often masculinist) individualism in American culture and of a certain anxiety about plots to subvert personal agency. This course explores the way the postmodern culture of postwar America challenged that strain of individualism, with its notion of strong personal agency, producing a “paranoid” literature of conspiracism and panic. Beginning with some touchstones (like Emerson) that posit the free liberal subject, our course will follow the advent of various paranoid styles in postmodern American literature. We’ll historicize our literary inquiry by reading excerpts of influential sociological accounts of post-war culture, such as Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders, Hoover’s Masters of Deceit, Whyte’s Organization Man, Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man, Wiener’s Cybernetics, and Human Use of Human Beings, Reich’s The Greening of America, Ellul’s Technological Society, Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd. We’ll also read relevant theories of the postmodern and of paranoid interpretation. Readings will include some, but not all (!), of the following literary texts: 


Kathy Acker Empire of the Senseless 

Margaret Atwood Bodily Harm (Canadian, yes, but talking also about Americans) 

William S. Burroughs The Adding Machine, Naked Lunch 

Don DeLillo White Noise, Running Dog, Mao II  

Phillip K. Dick A Sanner Darkly

Joan Didion The White Album 

Dave Eggers The Circle

William Gibson Neuromancer 

Joseph Heller Catch-22 

Diane Johnson The Shadow Knows  

Ken Kesey One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 

Norman Mailer American Dream, Executioner’s Song 

Joseph McElroy  Lookout Cartridge 

Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead 

Thomas Pynchon Gravity’s Rainbow 

Ismael Reed Mumbo Jumbo 

Kurt Vonnegut Sirens of Titan 

Sol Yurick Richard A 

ENG 6510-01 W 5:30-8:15 Indigenous Literature and Media (Martin Premoli)

In the contemporary moment, the world has seen an increase in transnational and decolonial activist movements around Indigenous rights. Idle No More, Rhodes Must Fall, the BDS movement for a Free Palestine and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests have all garnered international attention and trans-indigenous calls of solidarity. Meanwhile, Indigenous Studies continues to expand rapidly as an area of scholarly inquiry—many have dubbed the increase in Native American writings and the rapid growth in Indigenous Studies a cultural, literary, and academic renaissance. 

Building on this historically significant moment, this course will introduce students to contemporary Indigenous literatures (in a variety of genres and media) and to relevant ways of understanding Indigenous self-representation in its historical, cultural, and political contexts. Our course will be organized according to four main units: Education, Sex and Gender, Health and (Dis)ability, and Environment. To help focus our study, we will read, view, and listen to texts produced primarily since the 1980s, and we will engage with Indigenous artists from Turtle Island (what is now called North America).