The Seductive Hallucination
An Introduction to Literature
Professor William Nericcio and 8 amazing Graduate Teaching Associate
Those are only some of the printable epithets that stumbled out of my mouth when I was told that I would be introducing 500 living and breathing San Diego State undergraduates to the study of Literature in the Fall of 2006. 9:00am Monday, August 28, 2006 loomed on the horizon like a fearsome nightmare.
And I still feel that way--sort of.
But in another way, the prospect of our literary adventure also seems strangely exciting--like an odyssey, or like a bad dream that scares the hell out of you but leaves your eyes clear the rest of the day and you feeling very much alive!
At first glance, it seems clear that the only clear thing we can succeed at this semester is failing. I mean, come on now!, how, really, can anyone do justice to that monstrous mountain of works we call LITERATURE? We might as well call our class "Life 101" or "Towards a Study of Everything." There's too much: too many authors; too many cultures; too many styles; too many genres. But I could not walk into class that first day and say, that! I had to look like I knew what I was talking about; I just had to! It was either that or they would revoke my Ph.D. Thus was born the seductive hallucination--a furtive attempt to organize the chaos of our planet's literary universe.
The first thing you have to know about literature is that it is a bizarre and seductive beast--it comes in a thousand shapes, sizes, genres, types, species, flavors and kinks! In their own way, film, photography, art, video games, comic books, and theater are all modes of literature, all versions of storytelling--so don't be surprised if you find yourself looking at pictures as much as you are reading books this term. Literature, in this sense, the alluring and intoxicating magic of fiction, is everywhere. For instance, consider the literary dimension of public acts of consumable fiction on display here in the portfolio section--stars we adore, worship and mimic reveal themselves to be the photoshopped mannequins we always thought they were; and yet, their seduction bends our will, mind, and imagination all the same. People literally make themselves sick aping looks that don't exist in the real world, mimicking fictions that are themselves the hallucinations of some graphic designers imagination. We laugh when we read of Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quijote tilting at windmills, his head filled with the nonsense of chivalric romances, believing the windmills to be be dragons, and he a heroic knight, and yet we, we chase windmills of our own everyday--hence the ubiquity of the literary and the necessity for us to know it better!
If we are to fail in our glorious or pathetic quest this term, I say we go down in glorious flames! Instead of fretting or fearing, then, let us give ourselves over to this buffet of delectable textual bon bons. That word I used above, "seductive," will turn out to be a major player for the next four months or so, as it will order our explorations, give shape to our impossible task: The more you study literature, the more you allow the pages of short stories, poems, essays, lyrics, elegies, and novels to touch your imagination, the more you will discover literature as a tale of an ongoing seduction. Remember here that the word "seduction," a word most people usually associate with titillating gossip, romance novels, pornography, supermodels, hypnosis, etc., comes from the Latin word, seducere, "to be lead astray," "to leave the proper path," to "on the road" on a path less taken. Books literally take us to another place, another space, another time, and, most frightening, another mind! In order to let a piece of literature touch us, we, in turn, must reach out to and touch the book--prophylactics optional!
Even more scary? Most of these storytellers are dead! At least most of the famous ones--so that our tales of seduction, our introduction to literature, will be told told to us by ghosts, hallucinations if you will. How curious! Poems and novels are like diaries of the dead, memoirs of the fallen; and yet they still speak to us! You may hate Shakespeare, but you can't deny the gravity of his ghost, the impact of his plays on 21st century earthlings. You may say you hate Sigmund Freud, but would you ever want to be caught dead claiming his particularly sinful tales (psychoanalysis) had no impact on American or European culture? So Shakespeare will be hanging out with us semester, at least at the beginning; along with other players to be announced soon. Contrary to pesky rumors, SDSU undergrads do not, repeat DO NOT, have to wear this costume to class daily! This class is open to all majors! English and Comparative Literature majors interested in taking this class for upper-division E499 special study units should email Professor Nericcio, firstname.lastname@example.org, as soon as possible.
WORKING LIST OF TEXTS: NOTE!!!! If you are buying editions off the internet or any other place other than the campus store, BEWARE; make sure you buy the editions we are using in class; otherwise you won't be able to follow along when we do close readings.
Free in Class
SECRETARY by Steven Shainberg
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM by Darren Aronofsky
AN EYE FOR ANNAI by Jonathan Klassen and Dan Rodrigues
DISCLAIMER: this GENERAL EDUCATION English 220 class deals with literature, graphic art, and film--world class literature almost always deals with ADULT issues and activities; reread Shakespeare's HAMLET if you doubt me. SO: if you are squeamish about alternative attitudes to religion, human emotions, sexuality, erotic taboos, or if literature graphic art, and film leave you weak, angry, disgusted, embarrassed etc., PLEASE drop this class BEFORE you get the urge to call on your parents and clergy! This is a university-level course exploring the seductive hallucination that is literature: you should EXPECT to be disturbed, moved, or even, gasp!, upset at least once before the term ends!!!
Almase hails from the heart of Appalachia. She received her
BA in English from West Virginia University where she held post as Calliope
Literary Journal's Editor in Chief as well as university mascot: the inflatable
Mountaineer. Tricia is beginning her first year as Editor in Chief
of pacific REVIEW and her second
year of the MFA Creative Writing program in poetry.
Mr. Auser counsels his charges from 10 to 11 on Mondays in A&L 237!
Auser isn't sure if he's been born yet, or for that matter, if heis
actually from upstate New York (as his deceptive parents would like to
have him believe). Having now de-thugged himself from thedragon-tail
alleys of Baltimore, Maryland, where he is said to have had a stint at
Loyola College, earning (of all God forsaken things) a B.A. in Philosophy,
Trevor has welcomed with open arms the warm, amiable climate that is San
Diego. His only current regret regarding this trans-continental move
is an inability to canoe and listen to his collection of jazz lps when
it rains (not at the same time). An undisclosed source has informed
me that he is now beginning his second year in the M.F.A. Creative Writing
program here at State. He loves to read the obituaries.
Kristin McGregor hangs with her students from 10 to 11 on Fridays in AL 237, the GTA lair!
McGregor is beginning her second year as a MA student of American
Literature with an emphasis on American Environmental literature. A native
Texan, Kristin received her BA in English and Communication at Trinity
University before heading out West. She is currently working as a
tutor and TA at San Diego State University.
Ms. Miller's office hours are from 10-11am on Mondays and Wednesdays and by appointment!
Miller is a second year MA student of Comparative Literature, focusing
on issues of postcolonialism, culture, and identity. Originally from
Seal Beach, CA, Cathy received her BA in English from UC Santa Barbara.
An avid voyager of books, travel, the great outdoors, and the deep blue,
she is currently driven by an intense interest, both of a literary and
backpacking nature, in Latin America, and is pursuing a thesis exploring
Chilean literary responses to the 1973 Pinochet coup.
Minniti-Shippey is a poet, currently entering her second year of
the MFA program. Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, she left behind
aging hippies and Deadheads to study in Virginia at Randolph-Macon Woman's
College, where she graduated in 2003. She is currently working on
a sequence of poems which revolve around a sandal she found at OB, abandoned
in seaweed, which fit her perfectly. Coincidence? The poems
would suggest otherwise.
Mr. Rancourt can be found Mondays in AL 237 from 11-12 and on Fridays in ESC 301F from 9-10.
Rancourt is currently working towards his Master of Fine Arts degree
in Creative Writing with a slight emphasis on poetry, specifically the
formalist kind. When it comes to literature and its study, he must be doing
something right because he was named "Outstanding Graduate" in the Department
of English and Comparative Literature at SDSU in 2004. In candid
moments, however, he will admit that he prefers writing to reading, both
in his studies and his teaching. Teaching? That's right, he
earned a Single Subject Teaching Credential in the subject of English,
qualifying him to teach at the secondary level, but instead of following
that immediately into a career, he decided to give the MFA a try and test
the waters of teaching at the university level. Currently, he teaches RWS
100 and TA's English 220 while tutoring a little on the side, but, mostly,
he's a vegan, drug free, aging DIY punk with a keen interest in alternative
fuel technology centered mostly around recycled vegetable oil as fuel (greasecar.com).
Kane is a Cleveland native, a graduate from Bowling Green State
University and holds a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
He is the 2003 Richard Messer Award winner for fiction. He is currently
an MFA candidate at San Diego State University where he works as a tutor
Malfara grew up in NYC, but now considers San Diego her home.
She wrote an undergraduate thesis exploring the storytelling traditions
of Native Americans and graduated from the English Honors program at SDSU.
Karen is currently a first year graduate student in the MA program.
Her passion has always been the study of human nature, so she was initially
drawn to fields of study such as sociology, psychology, and anthropology.
In literature she discovered a treasure trove of myths, fantasies, and
stories of fact and fiction that delve into the perplexing questions we
grapple with throughout our lives, often venturing into the gray areas,
and sometimes illuminating the shadows. She was hopelessly seduced
by those fearless authors who celebrate humanity in all its complexity
by bringing multidimensional characters to life. Malfara graduated summa
cum laude, receiving the Phi Beta Kappa Billotte Memorial Scholarship while
working full-time for the County of San Diego as a contract analyst and
travailing as well as a single parent of two girls who now also attend
SDSU. Animal Planet fans take note: Malfara is also a volunteer apprentice
wild life tracker...
gta email addresses written with "at" in lieu of "@" in order to stifle robotic internet spam agents!