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English 220: Introduction to Literature
Dr. William A. Nericcio | Fall 2017
Just thehe stories that swirl around us these days are filled with mirrors—from Alice in Wonderland to The Matrix, from Black Mirror to Breaking Bad and Mad Men (both Walter White and Don Draper have peculiar and haunting mirror-selves in the form of "Heisenberg" and "Dick Whitman"--their alter-egos). Consider as well how the world of literature, film, poetry, painting, photography, and, even, music (Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors”) are filled with these reflecting shards of sensual glass we call mirrors.

Inspired by this, our class will walk together into these haunting, sensual, disturbing, evocative mirrors, reading books, watching movies, and seeing photography and art that uses these mirrors as a dominating figure or organizational symbol. All of our adventures this semester will fall into the category of the what we will be calling the #mirrortext--a fabricated tale (written, filmed, streamed, performed) that acts like a mirror: for better and for worse.

he working list of texts includes oil paintings by Rene Magritte, novels by Carlos Fuentes and Wilhelm Jensen, cinema from Orson Welles, photography by Francesca Woodman and much more to come.  Open to all majors and minors with no expertise in literature, art, etc expected or preferred.

All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go

beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who
read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator,
and not life, that art really mirrors.  

Oscar Wilde

Whatever may be their use in civilized societies,
mirrors are essential to all violent and
heroic action.  

Virginia Woolf

I used to live in a room full of mirrors; all I
could see was me. I take my spirit and I
crash my mirrors, now the whole world
is here for me to see.  
Jimi Hendrix

Required Books:

Note: NO DIGITAL BOOKS ALLOWED--all students must bring their books to our imagination laboratory / classroom for class discussion! ALSO--the book links provided below are included to ensure you pick up the correct edition of the required books. Aside from the Hooks/Modotti book, for which I found you a special price available at the Aztec Shops Bookstore, I encourage you to shop around for the best deals.












Required Television:

Note: All television screenings are FREE and screened in our imagination palace, GMCS 333




Required Movies:

Note: All movie screenings are FREE and screened in our imagination palace, GMCS 333



A Description of How Your Work Will Be Evaluated

ENGL 220: #Mirrortext
William A. Nericcio | memo@sdsu.edu
Director, MALAS; Professor, English y CompLit

Course Rules

This section of your online syllabus documents how your work will be evaluated Fall 2017. Here you will find all the little gates, cages, locks, statutes, ordinances, edicts, and formulas that allow our innovative mirror-obsessed literary collective to thrive. Let me underscore that you have absolute intellectual freedom in our seminar, BUT to receive these awesome rights, you must also follow the reasonable responsibilities outlined on this page. After all, we want to have a great time, to be the best literature/cultural studies class on the West Coast, even! Take that USC! Eat my dust Stanford! But to do that, we need room for intellectual play--a safe asylum within which to forge our mirrored/mirroring, literature-filled wanderlust. So, then, read these laws carefully and thoroughly, so when you walk into GMCS 333, aka, the #Mirrortext Mothership, you will know what to do and what not to do!


BUY THE BOOKS AND READ THEM--DON'T COME TO SEMINAR WITHOUT YOUR BOOK! Though we very much adore living in the 21st century, we will use ANALOG, printed books in this class.  Please do not come up and ask me if you can use a Kindle or your laptop or your Smartphone--see rules 3 and 4 below.


When you enter this room for class you will have completed the reading that appears on the day-to-day class calendar! Please note the word "finished" (not "started," not "skimmed," not "glanced," and most decidedly NOT "I read the Cliffs/Sparks Notes online!) Coming to a university literature/film/cultural studies class without doing the reading is like a gardener trying to raise roses without getting her/his hands filthy with shit, a surgeon trying to operate without a scalpel, a fireman without an ax, a prostitute without, er, well, I better stop there.  Do the readings.  Do them twice if you can MAKE the time!  I know, you are saying to yourself, "they don't make me read in my other classes" or some other sort of nonsense... well here, you must! Please think twice about joining us if you have not finished the readings--the quality of our class depends upon your dedicated work and your relentless and independent curiosity. Without your periodic intellectual donations, the class is likely to evolve into a boring, even painful waste of time. 


Your laptop will be asleep IN YOUR BAGS during class--or, better yet, resting in your dorm room or apartment.

Have you noticed how anytime a student uses a laptop in an auditorium there is a "cone of distraction" alongside and behind the student using a computer?

This is usually due to said student surfing the web via wi-fi perusing erotic delights or god knows what. I was recently at a cool (ok, it was slightly boring, I confess) lecture by a noted writer--as I tried to listen to her, in front of me, a diverted student (attending the lecture, no doubt, for extra-credit) was perusing sites like these (nsfw or school). So, laptops are GREAT for entering your notes AFTER class, but they will not be allowed in our lecture hall. If you have an issue with this, schedule a meeting with me during office hours the first week of class.


Your beloved magnificent iPhone, your cherished Galaxy, your fetishized Pixel, or even your primordial pager will be off, off, OFF during class meetings; if for some reason you are expecting an emergency call, set it on VIBRATE (for privacy, pleasure, or both!) and sit in the back near an exit after letting me know in advance before class that you are expecting an emergency phonecall. Cellphones KILL collective spaces of learning with their ill-timed, annoying clattering rings, bongs, squeaks, chirps, and themes.

Yes, the trauma of that delayed text, yes, the horror of that missed hook-up call, yes, the loss of the buzz of that random Tinder swipe will no doubt doom you to years and years on an psychoanalyst's couch, but we, the rest of us, will gain some silence, a kind of sanctuary without which ideas wither on the vine. We are NOT joking about this unthinkable edict! Don't end up like this former student from another Engl 301 I taught back in the day:

click to enlarge

PASSPORT RULE 5 Charlie-Delta_Thief:

PLAGIARISM is for cads, thieves, and idiots who desire an "F" for the class. Plagiarism comes from the Latin word, "plagiarius" which means kidnapper, plunderer, or (get this!) thief--not a GOOD thing. In the university, plagiarism refers to the art and crime of presenting other people's work under your own signature, aka cutting and pasting copied crap from Wikipedia--definitely a BAD thing. While your professor is forbidden by CSU/SDSU code from tattooing the word LOSER on the foreheads of guilty students, he can promise that felonious students will be remanded to the state-authorized SDSU executioners.  Read THIS as well--SDSU is SERIOUS about this shit, so don't take any chances!  Rely on your own singular mind and imagination!

Major Course Requirements


  • 50%  Attendance, Quizzes, In-class "Panic-Inducing Challenges", In-class participation, In-class writing, cineTREKS, Facebook and Tumblr postings, Office Hour visits, etc.
  • 25%  Your Imagination Challenge (aka, the Essay)
  • 25%  Final Examination


You will be asked to write ONE 5-8 page essay (also know as THE IMAGINATION CHALLENGE) during the course of the term. Please note that you will never be compelled to write about something you absolutely hate. Though I will provide you with a list of prompts, please feel free to see me at any time over the course of the semester during office hours to pitch/brainstorm essay ideas.


There will be a final In-class Imagination Challenge (aka, the FINAL EXAM) on the last regularly scheduled day of class: Thursday, December 14 at 11am in GMCS 333.

Your final is absolutely comprehensive; it assumes you have read all the books and screened all the movies that are part of our required work. If you do the work, the final is a breeze--even "fun" if you can believe it. If you slack off, you will find the final In-Class Imagination Challenge as enjoyable as being the waiter for the Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo clan!


During the semester, you can expect several In-class Panic-Inducing Challenges otherwise known as CHECK-YOU-DID-THE-READING QUIZZES. You can expect these miserable quizzes from time to time, the number of quizzes depending on how many of you are nostalgic for high school. In other words, if everyone acts like a talented university student, we will enjoy FEW if any quizzes during our semester

Coming to class for each seminar session is NOT optional--the whole point of this class is to work together, the idea being that we creatively and magicly convert our  classroom into a chaotic, unpredictable, and exciting intellectual laboratory. Missing class, you miss, as well, the whole point of the adventure. So please bypass no more than three classes during the semester--you are responsible for any work/notes you miss when you are absent and can PRESUME that what you missed that day was important! If you miss MORE than three classes during the term and your grade will decay in an ugly way. EXAMPLES: your hard-earned A- will morph into a B-; your "gentleman's C" will appear on the webportal as a "D," etc. etc. Ditching this class too often will be as fun as a case of flesh-eating virus. 

Do you receive any second chances in this class on the off chance you miss a quiz, blow an assignment, or generally screwup altogether? Luckily, your eccentric Professor is a recovering Catholic, and believes in the wonders of absolution--from time to time we will have out-of-class cineTREK© assignments, aka EXTRA-CREDIT OPPORTUNITIES; these can be used to atone for an extra-absence, a missed quiz, or some other class-impacting catastrophe you may experience during the term.


Our main social media site for this class, Facebook-based, is located here. If you are a member of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s mad hallucinatory experiment in digitized, self-mirroring, then you are expected to post class-related links, images, videos, articles, etc at least ONCE a month or 5 total for the whole semester. If you have not bought into Zuckerberg’s mad experiment and stay away from Facebook like the plague, you have a second choice--you can directly submit a posting to the mirrortext tumblr page--anonymous submissions are allowed here for those of your who don't want Edward Snowden peering in your digital window!  You can also contribute to our own instagram hashtag, which goes by the catchy, if difficult to type, #mirrortext. If Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram remain alien to your consciousness, you can send your suggested links/images/videos to me via email to memo@sdsu.edu; I don’t promise that I will post ALL of your materials but I will try, however, to see that some of them make their way to the fabulous internets.  

DO NOT CONFUSE YOUR EXTRA-CREDIT, cineTREKS™ with these FIVE postings!  What you are expected to share via social media are things you run across that relate to our class experiences--you do not HAVE TO WRITE a long essay with your postings... a couple of pointed, pithy, well-crafted sentences will do, enough to give me and your classmates a sense of a connection to ideas developed during the semester in our class.


professor nericcio in office
Professor Nericcio awaiting students in office hours, AL 273

nericcio's office, a viewWhy visit me during 'office hours'? Why not? If only to experience the madness of my working studio space! You are warmly invited to visit me in office hours at least once during the semester if you can. At SDSU, it's easy to fall through the cracks, to feel that you are nothing but a Red ID# or some warm pile of sentient flesh filling a seat. In order to convince you that the Professor teaching you is occasionally human, please make a point during the semester to take the time to introduce yourself in person. My office hours will be on Tuesday afternoons from 2pm to 4pm in AL 273 (if I am not there, look for me in the SDSU Press office, AL 283). If these hours are inconvenient, do not hesitate to email me for an appointment either at  memo@sdsu.edu or bnericci@mail.sdsu.edu

You can also call me at 619.594.1524 either to schedule an appointment or discuss your questions via telephone, but keep in mind I don't check that answering machine very often!

Day to Day Calendar
note: the assignment featured on particular date lists the work you need to have COMPLETED before you walk into the classroom!
Imagination Challenge Prompts now LIVE
Tuesday, August 29

It's the first day of class and already your professor is burdening you with work, "cracking the whip" as we begin the semester in overdrive. Enter our auditorium GMCS 333 (a glorious room bathed in SDSU's favorite interior design color, Aztec-beige and also known as our beloved "House of Mirrors") having read the first half of Richard Appignanesi's and Oscar Zarate's FREUD: A GRAPHIC GUIDE TO THE FATHER OF PSYCHOANALYSIS (also known as FREUD FOR BEGINNERS depending on which version of the book you pick up--do note that the bookstore has a special version of the book that is DIRT CHEAP!!!!).

While the first part of the class will feature endless and tiresome reminders regarding the rules and ambitions of our shared adventure, and introductions to your amazing quartet of Graduate Teaching Assistants, the second half of the class will be focused on the work of Appignanesi AND Zarate. Carefully note the word "and" in caps as the work of the writer, Appignanesi, is every bit as important as the illustrator/collage master/ visual archivist Zarate in understanding their fused, warped vision of the strange, engaging, cigar-smoking father of psychoanalysis, Siggy Freud!

Thursday, August 31

Your first assignment: click the image, print, fill-out, and turn-in to me at the beginning of class--bring it by Tuesday, September 5, 2017!

It's the second day of class and we enter the room having finished FREUD: A GRAPHIC GUIDE TO THE FATHER OF PSYCHOANALYSIS/FREUD FOR BEGINNERS--in class we will carefully assess the curious elements that make up this collaborative project. Additionally we will go over some key terms and concepts from the wacky Freudian universe that are perfectly adaptable for the study of literature, film, and art. Depending on time, your brilliance, etc, we may also screen a short film by Jon Klassen and Dan Rodriguez, who were undergraduate film students at the time they made this animated classic--in seminar, we will attempt to adapt and apply Freudian concepts taken from our readings and apply them to Klassen and Rodrigues's project. #mirrortext keywords for the day include: The Unconscious, Latent Dream Thought, Manifest Dream Content, and Transference.

Tuesday, September 5

¡Holy Hot Texts, Batman!
Is it already Week 2!?

Yes it is, and you walk into our glorious, air-conditioned auditorium having read the first 41 pages of Patricia Allmer's and illustrator Iker Spozio's delicious meditation on Rene Magritte and Surrealism entitled THIS IS MAGRITTE.

Rene Magritte was part of a huge arts movement called SURREALISM (#mirrortext toolkit term, FOR SURE!). The surrealists tried to do many things (including having wild parties), but what they are best remembered for is having taken the theories of Sigmund Freud to heart and then trying to translate those ideas, theories and concepts, into ART!

Actually you will have read Allmer's & Spozio's pages TWICE (no freaking out) as I want you to peruse those 41 pages conventionally the first time, going from the cover to page 41, reading the text and looking at the pictures. But when you finish reading these lively, eyegasmic pages, I want you to stop and do something different: I want you to read the book backwards ONLY looking at the pictures--and I want you to be looking at them carefully, searching with ravenous hunger for the one image, the one page, the one combination of images that drives your curiosity forward with passion, that catches your eye, that tickles your fancy, or, even, that inspires you to think in a new way. 

NOW, take the time to make a color or black&white xerox of that one page (or combination of pages if you want to go to the expense of making a collage) and bring it with you to class on Tuesday! (alternative, snap a smartphone picture, email it to yourself, and then print it out--don't rip a page out of the book, books have feelings too! ;-0)

That's it! Just bring that photocopy/printout to class. More will follow in class. Also bring to class your copy of Zarate and Appignanesi's treatment of Sigmund Freud as we will want to speak to pages/concepts that we failed to get to last Thursday.

Thursday, September 7

Finish reading the Allmer/Spozio volume on Magritte--THIS IS MAGRITTE; in class, we will continue our discussion on the relationship between Freudian psychoanalysis and Surrealist art. Both books are strange monsters of collaboration--the relationship between Appignanesi and Zarate's work does not directly mirror that of Allmer and Spozio; try to think of ways of distinguishing between these radical projects, these ridiculously imaginative acts of interpretation, homage, and recapitulation!!!

Tuesday, September 12

We have thrilled to the twisted, insightful world view of Freud and wandered, too, through the surrealistic wonderland of Rene Magritte. That means we are set up and ready for our first piece of literature proper--a graphic narrative, by Dan Clowes, called GHOST WORLD.  Read to page 62 in Clowes moving existential meditation on love, memory, nostalgia, friendship, and America--as you read, take the time to be as attentive to the words as you are with the images.  As with Magritte, you may want to do the reading twice--the first time reading word and image together, the 2nd time "reading/scanning" the pictures only.
Thursday, September 14

Finish GHOST WORLD for today's discussion. Are ghosts a form of a mirror? Conceptually, can you establish a relationship between the two? Think about this as you ponder the sad, groovy movements of Clowes contemporary drama.

Tuesday, September 19

It is Tuesday, September 19, and you've had a radically peculiar weekend as you walk into the room having treated yourself to Wilhelm Jensen's novella GRADIVA--read only up to page 88. On the surface the German writer's story appears as a minor trifle, but as you read, the narrative goes deeper and deeper with readers, like the main character Norbert Hanold, attempting to piece together a puzzle that leads straight to the heart of the psyche, libido, desire and much more. With or without knowing it, Jensen walks us onto a terrain of obsession and, even, fetishism, as archeologist (not unimportant!) Norbert Hanold's yearnings begin to get the best of him. Jensen's novel grabbed the eye of Sigmund Freud, compelling him to write an essay, included in our text, which you can read for Thursday if you want to get ahead.
Thursday, September 21

Walk into our auditorium having finished Wilhelm Jensen's GRADIVA; also read Sigmund Freud's essay, DELUSION AND DREAM IN WILHELM JENSEN'S GRADIVA, pages 143 to 174. Take some time after you finish reading Jensen's story, to write down some notes regarding your interpretation of the story. It is key to do this as Freud's argument in his essay that follows the novella in your little book might influence your interpretation of the novel

Read the Freud work slowly--this is a translation of German prose from an other era so it will take a bit of time to grow accustomed to the pace/tone of his writing. Freud was quite taken by Jensen's tale--and remember here too as well, that purchased art works dedicated to the story of Gradiva also filled his consultation room. More on the room here (a difficult piece, beware). With both Jensen and Freud, think about the construction of what Freud would call a "fetish"--are fetishes neuroses? Or are the merely representative of your personal libido? When is an object just an object and when does it become the center of your psychological universe?

Tuesday, September 26

Over the weekend, finish reading Freud's essay, DELUSION AND DREAM IN WILHELM JENSEN'S GRADIVA; in class we will continue our discussion of psychoanalysis, but we will turn to other issues as well including the connection between psychology and photography in the work of Francesca Woodman. In preparation for this carefully study the album of photographs by Woodman you will find here:

Once you finish with Francesca Woodman's work, move on over to the work of Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim, Diane Arbus, and Manuel Alvarez Bravo--you can get a good taste of their work here, an assignments page for a class I taught last Spring, called English 301, The Psychological Novel, Naked Eyes and Psychedelic Mirrors. Is PHOTOGRAPHY Literature? Is LITERATURE PHOTOGRAPHY?
Thursday, September 28

No reading today as we screen FLEABAG in class--be ready to adapt and synthesize your first four weeks of work as we interpret and discuss the moving, hilarious, and, at times disturbing cadences of Phoebe Waller-Bridge's performance--a razor's edge dance/duel between comedy and tragedy!

If you want to get ahead on the reading for next week, start with this illustrated biography of Frida Kahlo by Gilbert Hernandez, next, begin to read the first part of Andrea Kettenman's book on Frida, then read the Introduction and Frida Kahlo/Gilbert Hernandez chapter in my book Tex[t]-Mex. Tex[t]-Mex is NOT easy reading (as it was originally written for folks who study cinema and critical theory), but it will begin to prepare you for the work we will do next week with Frida Kahlo.

Tuesday, October 3

October blows in with a rush as we move from the amazingly talented musings on the female psyche in the 21st century (Phoebe Waller-Bridge's FLEABAG) to, perhaps, the most articulate explorer of female psychology in the 20th century, Mexico's Frida Kahlo. Read the first 50 or so pages of Andrea Kettenmann's FRIDA KAHLO book. Also take the time to read Gilbert Hernandez's comic biography of FRIDA--the most curious biography of Frida to exist as it represents one artist rendering the art of another. While many biographers (Hayden Herrera, for example, who provided some of the backstory for Hernandez's graphic novel portrait) focus on the tragedy and pain associated with Frida's life, we will move in an alternative direction, focusing on Frida's paintings as a kind of ciphered auto-biography, a sort of coded memoir (and confession). If you want to and have the time and interest, also read the Frida Kahlo/Gilbert Hernandez chapter from TEX[T]-MEX which we will be moving to on Thursday.

Thursday, October 5

It's Thursday and you enter class having finished Kettenmann's survey of Kahlo's art and life AND having read the chapter on Kahlo and Gilbert Hernandez in TEX[T]-MEX as well as the introduction to the book. In class, we will continue to do close readings of Kahlo's portraits, but we will also begin to ask questions about how Kahlo's works change our understanding of the #mirrortext. Are Kahlo's works mirrors of sorts. Can a painter's canvas be a mirror? As you read TEX[T]-MEX, look for places to engage with the critical commentary. What exactly is the goal of the chapter? How does it link to but also advance the ideas planted in the book's introduction?

Tuesday, October 10

From the wilds of the Frida-Kahloian psyche, a rambunctious unconscious filled with images and ideas of nation, women, body, politics, and more, we move this week to the visionary prose of American original James Baldwin.  For today's class, read this essay, "Notes of a Native Son" by Baldwin. The piece is a new genre for us, really, that goes by the name of an "essay." An essay, of course, is not a story, not a novel, and not a poem (you can sample Baldwin's poetry here but it is not REQUIRED); rather, an essay is a cogent, non-fiction piece of prose that tries to make an argument or reveal something new to its readers.  They can be persuasive, seductive, or combative--and no two essays are really alike.

James Baldwin is recognized as one of our greatest 20th century American essayists--and yet, as you will see with this piece, storytelling is very much still part of the "game" or "cipher" or "puzzle" that goes by the name of ESSAY. As you read, take notes about things Baldwin achieves in the essay that move you; note as well things he does that lose your interest or distract you.  What he means, is, of course, important, but I am more interested in you getting a feel for how he writes: are there things he achieves as a writer that you admire? that you might like to emulate in your own writing?  In class we will screen the first half of I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, a documentary film and hit by director Raoul Peck.

Thursday, October 12

Re-read the introduction to TEXTMEX for today's class. In seminar, we will complete our screening of Raoul Peck's I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO. Our discussion item for today will be the most common and aggressively distributed "mirrors" or "reflections" on the planet: STEREOTYPES.  What does Baldwin teach us about the logic of stereotypes. What are the psychological consequences for individuals who end up being the target of stereotypes. In TEXTMEX, I write that stereotypes are the "bloodstains of cultures in conflict." Consider the deeper meaning of that metaphor.  What does blood, skin, and culture have to do with the description of stereotypes as motivated reflections, run amok?

Today you will receive your IMAGINATION CHALLENGE ESSAY DUE at NOON, MONDAY, OCTOBER 30, in the paper bags outside the door of my office, AL 273!!!!

Imagination Challenge Prompts
now LIVE

Tuesday, October 17

Walk into our moat-divided room having read to page 63 in John Green's bestseller THE FAULT IN OUR STARS--if the stars and constellations of the universe align, you should find that--even if you have read the book before--that a brave new world of narrative awaits you. Almost every book and work of art and piece of cinema we have experienced this semester has contributed a key to unlock the deep, subterranean meanings that tricky, crafty Green has woven into his novel. Read slowly and enjoy the novel--thought marketed to young adults this is no kids novel and Green's talents as a novelist will give you much to think about...

...however, in class, we will not rush to discuss Green's moving novel. Instead we continue plumbing  the deep vein of understanding(s) introduced into our collective psyche by James Baldwin's writing and Raoul Peck's direction as we dive into an episode of Issa Rae's HBO hit, INSECURE. Like Phoebe Waller-Bridge with FLEABAG, Rae hits our eyes and mind with challenging and outrageous psyche of a brilliant young woman; as with Waller-Bridge's "Fleabag" character, Rae's "Issa Dee" is articulate, beautiful, young, powerful, confused, and neurotic--but she is also, like Fleabag, empowered and agent. No one's fool (at least most of the time), Issa Dee leads us into the psychologically and sexually charged life of an American young adult with a mind (and a life) of her own.
Thursday, October 19

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is on our minds this morning as we walk into our beige auditorium--read to page 176. As you read, among the many things to think about, consider the relationship between John Green and metafiction or between THE FAULT IN OUR STARS and the postmodern -- the words are lighted up in blue, notice? Don't be afraid to follow them where they take you! For example, the epigraph of the book is from a fictional book written by a fictional main character, Peter Van Houten. Right after he treats us to this epigraph, Green greets us with another deft touch--he includes an author's note:

The invitation here (or is it a provocation?) is clear! He wants us to enjoy his novel, but also, and simultaneously, he wants us to think about fiction--the value of fiction, the purpose of fiction, and, ultimately, the intimate connection of fiction to life.

Ignore the ad! Ignore the ad!  ;-0!

Tuesday, October 24

You walk into class wearing your Magritte t-shirt and having completed John Green's THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Come to class having written out what you view to be the most important passage from the book--the passage does not have to be that long, even 4 or 5 sentences will do, but make sure they are key to some deep, essential aspect of the novel.  Copy these words along with the page number they appear on, and write them out using your most artistic lettering/handwriting skills onto a piece of paper. You are also encouraged to fill this paper with symbols, images, drawings, etc, that you feel embody the key focus of this novel--do NOT use the internet, it is important that you draw these symbols and images to the best of your ability.  Bring this sheet of paper with you to class today--be sure the other side of your paper has your name and section name as big and as dark as you can write it.
Thursday, October 26

NO CLASS today--that gives you more time to fret, as our friend here pictured above is doing, as you write your amazing prose and criticism for your Imagination Challenge essay due Monday at noon! As you suffer, sweat, curse me, and crave precious sleep,  your fearless Professor jets off to the East Coast to treat the bewildered students and citizens of Maryland about the wonders of Textmex and Mextasy.  Curious, check out the info here or hit the poster just below:

MONDAY, October 30, 12 noon

IMAGINATION CHALLENGE ESSAY DUE at NOON today in the proper decorated paper bag for your class team! Choose from the Shards, Los Espejos, the Refractions, and the Reflections--or, for the brave, toss it in Professor Nericcio's bag to grade!

Tuesday, October 31

AURA is on tap for us as we celebrate Halloween--all students who come to class in full costume will get extra-credit worth up to 25 points added to your lowest quiz grade!  More to follow... Keep reading ...

It is Halloween day and all of us come to class dressed up to immerse ourselves in Carlos Fuentes's seductive (and outrageous) novella, Aura--as with THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, we are in the hands of a meticulous narrative craftsperson: every detail counts, every description is filled with salient, compelling meaning contributing to the project as a whole.  On the surface (and in its opening passages) AURA is a trifle--the story of an overtrained historian on the lookout for some extra cash in Mexico city, but it quickly evolves. One part Stephen King (think THE SHINING) , one part Franz Kafka (METAMORPHOSIS), one part Joseph Conrad (THE HEART OF DARKNESS), and one part Charlotte Perkins Gilman (THE YELLOW WALLPAPER), AURA turns out to be a #mirrortext with deep subterranean chasms, primal caves of human consciousness--a ghost story at the heart of the Freudian unconscious.

Thursday, November 2


To get a feel for Mexico in the 20th Century, carefully surveil the photographs by Tina Modotti in your book TINA MODOTTI (55) by Margaret Hooks; if you wish, also read the essays by Hooks, but they are not required for today's lecture.

The main course, today? Finish reading AURA! You walk into class and it is the day of days in Mexico (and for Mexicans in the United States!), Dia de los Muertos, which is not Halloween. Actually in the clash (and mesh) of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos we find an intriguing part of our #mirrortext, the contiguous bodies of the United States and Mexico sit side by side--in the words of former Mexican president Porfirio Diaz, "Poor Mexico, so far from god, so close to the United States." As you prepare for today's class, enjoy your reading, AURA is like a good episode of NIGHT GALLERY or BLACK MIRROR--it has a wickedly intriguing premise and killer conclusion.  But it also has depth and heft, the ontological and philosophical question of ruins, the past (France's adventure IN Mexico), historiography (not the same as history), and legacy, being some of its most profound achievements.

Tuesday, November 7

We will spend this week, for the most part, screening Orson Welles's amazing meditation on the US/MEXICO borderlands, TOUCH OF EVIL. Where with AURA we were deeply positioned in the heart of Mexico, (ancient Mexico, "French" Mexico, and Modern-day Mexico), with TOUCH OF EVIL we are both within the United States and within Mexico--the movie evolves as a deep and outrageous (and unpredictable) meditation on la frontera, la mestizaje, y mucho mas more.

For your reading today, work your way through the first 20 pages or so of the TOUCH OF EVIL chapter in TEXTMEX, pages 39 to the middle of page 57. But also, to get ahead and take advantage of the limited reading this week, go head and begin reading Susan Daitch's PAPER CONSPIRACIES--the longest book we will read this semester. Read pages 7 to 82. In order to make your reading more meaningful and fun, be sure to read up on one of the pioneer of early cinema, Georges Méliès, here, and on the Dreyfus Affair, here. Even more on Méliès here, via Brian Selznick's THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET page.

And, lastly, an homage to filmwork by

Thursday, November 9

In class today we will complete our screening of TOUCH OF EVIL, Orson Welles masterpiece comeback film, his greatest cinematic effort since CITIZEN KANE. Certainly TOUCH OF EVIL ponders what we could call the dance between good and evil--the title alone tells us that! But it is also a work that wonders about good and evil AT THE BORDER, ON THE BORDER, and most importantly IN the border--a ridiculous barrel of stereotypes, it ends up actually forcing us to rethink what it is we imagine "Mexicans" and "Mexico" to be. We will try to capture that in our brief discussion / lecture after the film.

For your reading, come into class having finished my essay on TOUCH OF EVIL, pages 57 to 80 (if you want to skip over the difficult paragraphs dealing with film theorist Stephen Heath, feel free to leap past them!). Additionally, please continue reading Susan Daitch's PAPER CONSPIRACIES pages 82-146.

Tuesday, November 14

Our first main day focused on Susan Daitch's PAPER CONSPIRACIES.  Come into class having read pages 147 to 271--as you read, think about the categories of knowledge, understanding, and storytelling being fused together in this singnificant recent American novel: world cinema, anti-semitism, mob-rule, etc. Is there anything parallel going on in world events today with the material focus of Daitch's novel. Is it, true to the name of our class, a #mirrortext?

Your old Prof was one of the first denizens in the Ivory Tower to write about Daitch's fiction, in particular, her early work LC--the curious and obsessed can see that work here.

Thursday, November 16

It is a terrific day in the Mirrortextlandia as author Susan Daitch joins us for our final discussion of PAPER CONSPIRACIES! Walk into class having finished her novel and then prepare to ask amazing questions of Daitch--(come to class with three questions you want to ask the author based on her novel or her writing). Type these questions carefully and print them out with you and bring to class. We will not accept handwritten questions--if you don't read this assignment, you can at least turn in a black page of paper with your name on it to prove attendance!

Have the time? Read this interview with Daitch by my retired colleague and friend Larry McCaffery. It is of particular interest for those of you, like me, curious about the nexus of word and image in Daitch's fictions!

Tuesday, November 21

THANKSGIVING BREAK--no class! I hope you enjoy a beautiful week off with your friends and family; thank for a pretty magnificent semester; I am very thankful to have had the chance to work with you this semester!

Thursday, November 23

THANKSGIVING BREAK--no class! Enjoy your Turkey comas!!!!

Tuesday, November 28

Are you still in a post-Thanksgiving, Turkey-induced coma!? Well reading Myriam Gurba's MEAN will snap you out of your delirium and bring you to attention with some moving, evocative, and challenging ideas and writing! One part memoir, one part reverie, one part snapshot of the unconscious, Gurba's MEAN asks us to dive headlong to a very contemporary intellectual consciousness, one that shares much with Phoebe Waller-Bridge (FLEABAG) and Issa Rae (INSECURE), but that also echoes and evokes interludes we've shared with Francesca Woodman and Diane Arbus.  Come to class having read to page 130.
Thursday, November 30

Stop the presses and lock the doors, Myriam Gurba is coming to hang out with our class today--details to follow, but be sure to finish the book for today!

Tuesday, December 5

Additional FLEABAG Screening with a Lecture by Mexican Psychoanalyst Deyanira Torres--here's a link to some of her writings (in Spanish!)...

Thursday, December 7

Final Comprehensive Review for the Final, In-Class, Imagination Challenge (aka, THE FINAL!) + LOUIE SCREENING/Discussion

Tuesday, December 12

Final In-class Imagination Challenge--the exam is comprehensive and begins at 11am sharp this morning; be ON TIME!!!!

Thursday, December 14

Optional in-class movie screening of Chris Marker's LA JETEE and Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dali's UN CHIEN ANDALOU!  As you have already taken the Final, your attendance today is utterly and absolutely optional!

Tuesday, Dec. 19

Our official final exam date and time is schedule for today, December 19, 2017 from 1030am to 12:30pm--but lucky for us, we have already taken the exam! I will, however, be available to you in our seminar room, GMCS 333, to hand back your graded final, and, one by one, tell you your final grade and how I arrived at that decision!

Teaching Assistants & TA
Office Hours/Contact Info

Hayley Kasden
{Amber Abweh ----- Anthony Dewitt}
E-mail: hayleykasden@gmail.com
Office Hours in AL 283: Mon. 11am-1pm,
Fri. 12noon - 2pm

My name is Hayley Kasden. I am a born-and-raised San Diegan who just couldn't leave the beautiful weather. I began my studies in psychology but quickly realized math was not my strong suit. So, I pursued my other passion of reading and writing. Last Spring I received my BA in English here at San Diego State University and I am currently in the MA program in Liberal Arts and Sciences, emphasizing in Literature. I hope to finish my MA within one year and continue on to a PhD program in Cognitive Literature -- the combination of psychology and literature with other disciplines thrown in the mix. I greatly enjoy studying the human mind through the arts. The sciences allow us to confirm our theories, but I believe those theories are created by the artistic imagination of scholars in the humanities.

When I began my studies in literature, I was starting my sophomore year. My first English course was English 220 with...can you guess? Professor Nericcio! At first I was overwhelmed by the thought of reading so many texts. But after the first couple of weeks, I realized the readings were actually interesting and it didn't seem like work at all! This class opened my mind to incredible concepts and theories I never before imagined. I learned how to think beyond rationality but still within reason. I learned how to be creative with my studies and to communicate those crazy ideas in a way that inspires others. You can experience all of that too! Just show up and have some fun with the class. If all you do is listen to class discussion and try to come up with a few ideas of your own every week, you'll be amazed at the depth of knowledge you'll be understanding.

Don't be afraid to come talk with me. I'm here to help with all of the little technical things, like papers and quizzes, but I am also here to show you how to think like a scholar. I'm giving you 4 hours each week to hang out with me and explore your minds. At the very least you will walk out of this semester with a changed perspective on the possibilities in life.

I am excited to work with you and guide you through a successful semester!

Gerardo "Bola" Juarez
LOS ESPEJOS (The Mirrors)
{Claire Dietrich-----Matthew Leong}
contact: bola@mextasyfilms.com

My background is distinct from others who come to the graduate study of literature, film, and art: I practiced law in Mexico City for more than 15 years, gleaning a broad perspective on the management of various business platforms. From the law, I branched out into investments--as an entrepreneur, I participated in multiple start-ups of services associated with telecommunications and content entertainment production.
In recent years, supported by a great team, we created and managed several productions which you can sample here at http://blindspot.tv/dreams. Blindspot has produced for HBO, The Discovery Channel, Nat Geo, Travel & Leisure among others. Of late, my writing and producing work for television is focused on representations of Mexico--both here in the United States and abroad. At SDSU, I am a graduate student in the MALAS program and am focusing on a graduate regime that couples Latin American literature, art, and photography, with a keen interest in social justice and aesthetics.
{Cassadra Lepore---Sebastien Rodriguez}

Contact: aperheentupamackey@sdsu.edu
Office Hours: 12:30pm to 1:30 pm Tuesdays at ???? or by appointment

I grew up in Finland, just your average monolingual Finnish kid with a fascination towards sciences, especially biology. I was supposed to grow up to be a biologist, actually. But when I was in my early teens, my parents gave me a copy of my favorite book – Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle – in its original language, in English. I just meant to read it to improve my English proficiency, but what I found on those pages absolutely blew my mind. I hadn’t even considered that languages besides my own could contain such depth of expression, that reading foreign languages could make me see images and feel feelings the way my own did. From that day on, I embarked on a journey to become bilingual, and then a polyglot, and devour all the literature I could in any language I could understand enough in. Through that process I’ve somehow ended up in San Diego, at SDSU, working towards a Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature. If you ever have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email!
{Rebekah Roer------Chengyu Zhan}
Office hours from 12-2 on Wednesday's on the Starbucks patio.
contact: redsarina@gmail.com

My name is Jennifer Ruby and I'm a second-year MFA student in poetry at SDSU.  I'm from Claremont, CA, which is a small town east of Los Angeles. I earned my bachelor’s degree at UC Davis and a secondary teaching credential at Sac State and taught high school English for 12 years.  At SDSU, I've studied poetry with Sandra Alcosser and Ilya Kaminsky and fiction with Matt De La Pena.  This past summer I was part of the Las Dos Brujas Writer’s Workshop in San Francisco where I studied with Chris Abani.  
I began writing poems and stories at a young age.  When I was 17, I heard the poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who was electrifying and though I went off to college eager, thoughtful, and reverent, my first college literature class knocked all of my enthusiasm out of me.  Many years later, I picked up the pen again, this time with some attention to craft, generating enough work with which I could apply to graduate school and amassing those starry 10,000 hours.  My current obsessions and the ideas that permeate my work are loss and grief and how we make meaning out of it, identity, and our sense of place in the natural world. 
Last year, I decided to take time off from teaching to earn my MFA and I'm grateful to be back to my old habits of writing poetry, merry-making and general hell-raising.  Looking forward to a wonderful semester of helping you achieve your goals! 
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