big scary essay prompts

Sinemadness or An Asylum Striptease 
SPRING 2006 | SDSU | English 301 |  The Psychological Novel
with William A. Nericcio & Tricia Almase | T/TH 9:30 to 10:45


A year and a half ago, I taught an Introduction to Literature course entitled Sinematic Bodies; four years ago I taught an E301 entitled Sinema--this course, Sinemadness or An Asylum Striptease (a twisted version of what the SDSU General Education calls "The Psychological Novel") is the bastard child of those earlier incarnations.  The premise of this class is quite simple: in literature and films of the 20th, and now, 21st, centuries, there appears a body of work that features characters with significant psychological problems born from their relationship with cameras or from movies somehow impacting on their minds.

In these tales filled with both tons of sin and loads of cinema, the "I," that peculiar, one-letter pronoun/nickname we give to our psyche, is overwritten or, at the very least enchanted, by some odd parallel tale of the EYE: who one is mirrors (often with twisted consequences) how one sees.

During the semester, we will spend NO LITTLE time reading books, watching films, studying poetry, and voyeuristically devouring pieces of art that feature curious, damaged, individuals (shattered bodies, twisted psyches) who receive solace from or gain further madness from that asylum we call Hollywood--;as we read, we will witness a psychoanalytic striptease of sorts, as various kinds of mental pathologies reveal themselves to us. Think of the movies, books, and photographs we will study this term as an influenza, and of cameras as a kind of psychic syringe, and you get an idea of the kinds of themes we will collectively pursue. 

The working list of required books and movies (subject to last minute change include):  A selection of Man Ray photographs from Spezial Fotografie Portfolio Number 35, Sigmund Freud's On Dreams, Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust,  Junichiro Tanizaki's The Key,  Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, Tino Villanueva's  Scene from the Movie Giant,  Michael Powell's  Peeping Tom,  Sam Mendes's American Beauty, Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies and Giuseppe Tornatore's Nuovo cinema paradiso. An optional, amazing novel, that you are free to write about and add to this list as an optional text is Maria Amparo Escandon's Esperanza's Box of Saints.


Reading and class discussion make up a significant portion of the class; attendance helps--you won't pass without it. If you intend to miss more than three classes, you might think about taking another class. Get this! I do not just expect attendance, I expect prepared attendance--even, brace yourself, participation. And please do think twice about setting foot in our classroom if you have not completed your assigned reading for the day--while you are at it, make sure your cell-phone is set on vibrate: for self-pleasure, of course, but also so as to NOT disrupt the class with your chiming. Also to be expected? One short imagination challenge (2 to 3 pages); one researched imagination challenge (5-8 pages), a final exam on the last day of classes and (yuck) reading/screening quizzes (if and only if the majority of the class decide to perform with high school level indifference).


Pla gia rize (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Plagiarized (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Plagiarizing.] To steal or purloin from the writings of another; to appropriate without due acknowledgment (the ideas or expressions of another). You steal someone else's ideas or pay for them at some creepy internet site, you will fail this class and be reported to the University.


Quizzes, Attendance, Participation 40% 
Essays 35% 
Final Exam 24% 
Chutzpah, Ganas, Drive 1%

Office Hours 
My office hours are from 1 to 3 on Monday afternoon in Adams Humanities 4117--please do note that I KEEP my office hours (If I am not there on Mondays, I am either away momentarily answering the call of nature or dead). If these hours are inconvenient, do not hesitate to call me at 594.1524 either to schedule an appointment or discuss your questions via telephone. My email address is

Required Texts!

Here they are hot off the Campus Bookstore server; please do feel free to look around online for cheaper offerings!

DISCLAIMER: this GENERAL EDUCATION class will deal with ADULT issues and activities. If you are squeamish about insanity, human sexuality, erotic taboos or if graphic art, literature and film leave you weak, angry, disgusted etc., PLEASE drop this class BEFORE you get the urge to call on your parents and clergy to remove me from my job! This is a university-level course exploring usually hidden elements of the human psyche: you should EXPECT to be disturbed and moved.  Test your levels of tolerance! Does this bother you? How about this?  Move forward with caution!!!
-->working crash codes for e301, spring 2006, schedule #11200
if none of these work, email me and I will send you one  that works
do please read this online syllabus CAREFULLY before using
an add-code.   thanx, WAN y TA


bio? in the works!   Almase, a fan of good writing, psychics, football and poetry, is an MFA Graduate Student at SDSU

contact info-->, of course just type in the @ sign when you email her! (this will save her some ungodly spam in the future!

office? 4220 in AH; office hours are from 12 to 3 on Mondays for now--watch this space for updates!