English 301: The Caged Eye

Bodies, Words, Pictures & 
The Corruption Of The Psyche

William Anthony Nericcio
Associate Professor
The Department of English and Comparative Literature
College of Arts and Letters
San Diego State University
San Diego, California 92182-8140

corrupt \k*-'r*pt\ vb [ME corrupten, fr. L corruptus, pp. of corrumpere, fr. com + rumpere to break - more at REAVE 1: to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions; specif : BRIBE 2: ROT, SPOIL 3: to subject to corruption of blood 4: to alter from the original or correct form or version 1a: to become tainted or rotten 1b: to become morally debased 2: to cause disintegration or ruin 3: morally perverted: DEPRAVED 3b: characterized by bribery, the selling of political favors, or other improper conduct. archaic TAINTED, PUTRID. 

What happens to women, men and 'others' when their minds encounter visions, real or imagined, which torture their unconscious--which scar the psyche, which mark the 'unconscious body' with the permanence of a tattoo? These questions (obsessions driving our class throughout the semester) are the starting point for our survey of various "caged," deranged characters in Literature, Art, Drama, and Cinema. Are these tortured souls "corrupt" or is it that they have witnessed things we would just as soon turn away from and ignore. Might what we call "insanity" be nothing more and nothing less than an alternative way of seeing? What, in particular, are the implications of seeing and doing things which are forbidden? During the semester, all of our "eyes" will be carefully scrutinized: both the "eye" itself (the films we screen will test our visual acumen) and the 'caged I." That prized concept we call the "Self" may be little more than a measure of how we have been trained to see.

Class Line-Up and Reading Schedule


Requirements, Expectations and Promises

There will be two Critical Imagination Challenges© (3 to 7 pages typed), a couple of in-class short response critical speculation pieces, random quizzes (if and only if our intellectual collective exhibits high school-style intellectual nausea) and an optional in-class Final. Attendance is crucial: you may miss no more than 3 classes during the semester. I do not want excuses, so please RATION your absences accordingly. Your grade will be based on:
  • Class participation, attendance, reading preparation, Quizzes (30%)
  • Critical Imagination Challenges (50%)
  • Optional Final Examination (20%)

Readings/ Watchings

The class will be run as a seminar. You are expected to enter the room each week having completed the reading assigned for that day. The readings will be exotic, erotic, disturbing and (at times) difficult--it is up to you to assure that time is available for careful preparation for class. Why come to class? It is simple: your participation is crucial to our success--the better the preparation, the better the class.

Office Hours

The worst thing about a large state university is that it encourages anonymity--you are a number picking numbers filling a "requirement" not a person choosing an environment within which to intellectually grow and change. This is not case with our "Cage." I expect to meet you during the semester--I will be less effective as a teacher and you as students if we weekly inhabit a room strangers. I want to use the idea of a "cage" metaphorically not literally. So make plans to take advantage of office hour appointments either alone or in groups. Also I encourage you to meet the people who are sharing work with you. My office hours are on Thursdays from 11 to 2 in Adams Humanities 4179. My graduate teaching associates also have office hours in 4179 Adams: Jason Solinger on Mondays from 12 to 1 and Jamie Fox, also on Mondays from 2 to 3:30. You can make an appointment if these hours are not convenient by calling 594.6711 or 594-1524. All three of us use the voice mail system at 594.6711. 

Required Texts

Texts Available at Aztec Shops, KB Books or Follett Textbook Exchange
  • Mary Anne Staniszewski Believing is Seeing
  • Junichiro Tanizaki The Key
  • Sigmund Freud/Wilhelm Jensen Gradiva/ Delusion and Dream
  • Carlos Fuentes Aura
  • R. Appinanesi and O. Zarate Freud For Beginners
  • Pascal Bonafoux Van Gogh: The Passionate Eye
  • Gilbert Hernandez Human Diastrophism
  • Michel Foucault/Herculine Barbin Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a 19nth Cent Fr. Hermaphrodite
  • Susanna Kaysen Girl, Interrupted
  • Alejandra Pizarnik "The Bloody Countess"
Texts Available at The Blue Door Bookstore, 3823 Fifth Ave. Hillcrest, 298-8610
  • Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray
Texts Available In-Class at Amazing Discounts
  • Ida Rigby War-Revolution-Weimar
  • Bill Nericcio Caged Eye Anthology: Oliver Mayer and Alejandra Pizarnik


--Totally, Absolutely Free of Charge, Screened in Class!!
  • Henri-Georges Clouzot Les Diaboliques
  • Fritz Lang M
  • Luis Buñuel Viridiana
  • Billy Wilder Sunset Boulevard
  • Frederick Wiseman The Titicut Follies
  • Vittorio De Sica Shoeshine

Theatre/ Performance Art

  • Teatro de la Rendija (Mexico, DF) La contesa sangrienta
  • Oliver Mayer Young Valiant

Dr. Bill Nericcio, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Jamie Fox and Jason Solinger, Graduate Teaching Associates

This Web page was created by
Anna Barkdoll