Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday

MAY 22 MAY 23

First day of class! Go over the ground rules! Talk about Burroughs and the Beats! Show a surprise movie--Mad Men episode, FAR AWAY PLACES!  Give the first assignment! Class opens with a lecture on the revolutionary movements in the U.S. in the 60s--one example of this metamorphosis? Underground Comics: belows is a graphic from an underground comic born from the decidedly twisted imagination of R. Crumb--the father of FRITZ THE CAT, MR. NATURAL, and other 60s staples of the counter culture. More on Crumb here.

Walk into our groovy chamber of sinematic/literary delights having read the first 50 or so pages of William Burroughs JUNKY--as you read, be sure to underscore passages that are provocative, perplexing, dynamic, curious, or baffling.  Be sure to walk into class with a sheet of paper on which you have transcribed three of these passages and, with each, a short description of why you selected that particular passage out of all the lines in the book.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
MAY 27 MAY 28 MAY 29 MAY 30

All refreshed from all your days off, you walk back into our room and an amazing thing has happened! You finished reading JUNKY over the memorial day holiday!   In seminar, we will spend the first part of the class discussing Burrough's novel; the last part of the time left to us will be spent on Harvey Pekar's bio-comic on the peculiar American original. Does the illustrated biography change your reading of Burroughs' novel?

Today we screen a classic American film from 1958--a film that treads much of the same terrain as William Burroughs JUNKY but with the added feature of being set on the border between the United States and Mexico. For class, read the Introduction and the TOUCH OF EVIL chapter in Tex[t]-Mex. Be sure to bring the class as we might have a writing assignment if there is time left to us.
As we did not finish our screening of TOUCH OF EVIL yesterday, we will continue that process in class today--be sure to take careful notes as your screen Welles's classic; the movies we watch in class are "required texts" and every bit as important as your required readings.  Make note of the name of main characters, the main actors, as well as the Director, Orson Welles, and the remarkable cinematographer, Russell Metty. Go back to Tex[t]-Mex and underscore sections that are baffling, annoying, confusing, etc to ask about during class.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
It's a groovy, groovy Thursday as we finish our discussion of Welles' TOUCH OF EVIL and segue into our "reading" of the Velvet Underground & Nico's first album--here is the lyrics sheet... be sure to be reading the lyrics as you listen to the music.  Interpreting lyrics is difficult as you have to use your poetry skill-set coupled with your music exegesis talents.  Be sure to carefully and closely read the lyrics in anticipation of class discussion.  As there is little "reading" due today, do yourself a favor and read the first 100 pages or so of Philip K. Dick's THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH to get ahead.

We do NOT meet in seminar today at the SDSU main Campus--this is to give you extra time to catch up on your reading, to assess which Imagination Challenge 1 prompt you are going to pursue (see below), AND to compensate you for the time you will spend on your s/cinetrek/out-of-body-experience this week.

Imagination Challenge 1 prompts will be distributed today--click here for the online version of your groovy writing prompts.

Today we are moving fast, fast, fast and you walk into the room having just about finished Philip K. Dick's THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH. The seminar will focus on our reading / interpretation of the novel, so don't drop in without having consumed massive quantities of this decidedly peculiar text.

Not required but recommended? There's a nice review piece on Dick's novel here. And, a Robert Crumb penned graphic piece on Dick's spirituality here.

We are in for a treat today as we screen a classic from 1967--Mike Nichols' THE GRADUATE. Saturated with texts that foreground narcotics, we move to one that aims to capture the psychosexual zeitgeist of the late 1960s. With a soundtrack laced with SIMON & GARFUNKEL and a stellar cast featuring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.

As we are only screening a movie today, read the first 75 pages or so of Vonnegut's BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday

Today's seminar will open with a discussion of Mike Nichols' THE GRADUATE. Let's see how far we get, today--we may begin our discussion of BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, so try to finish the reading and BRING THE BOOK TO CLASS!!!!!

Class today is  given over after the break to our discussion of Vonnegut's BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS--don't walk into class without having finished the novel. Vonnegut's visionary satire  (and experimental meta-fiction) finds the U.S. at a crossroads; the toxic consequences of consumer addiction rendering the entire body politic pathological

Course seminar rescheduled today due to illness.

REMEMBER: Imagination Challenge 1 is due today in class OR under my door tomorrow by noon in Arts and Letters 273.

In order to give you time to concentrate on your paper, we are going to watch a film in class today--taking a break from our experience of Gibson's NEUROMANCER.  Today, we return to the United States, circa 1991 with Spike Lee's JUNGLE FEVER. The film runs two hours, so we will watch a good chunk today and have a discussion.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday

Today, we will complete our screening and discussion of JUNGLE FEVER--Spike Lee's tale of inner-city love ('mixed-party' love to seize upon a term/concept from TOUCH OF EVIL) reveals that America's obsession with policing miscegenation is alive and well in the 1990s.  Review the discussion of mixed bloodedness in TEXTMEX for today's discussion--the chapter on TOUCH OF EVIL, but perhaps also the Rita Hayworth chapter as well. 

Receive paper assignment 2, due Friday June 28, 2013....

SPRINGSTEEN, GREETINGS FROM ASHBURY PARK: A very special day for our seminar as your professor travels down memory lane to a formative album from his now fading history--Springsteen's GREETINGS FROM ASHBURY PARK was one of those albums that helped launch me to my path of literature and music--its music fueled my love for Rock'n'Roll and inspired my own musical experimentation in the 80s, while the album's lyrics, fraught with working class dreams and East Coast visions of love, lust and more (not to mention an inspired poetic poignancy) influenced me in lasting ways.  Be sure to pick out a particular song you want to analyze during our class discussion. The lyric sheet for the album is here as a pdf--the images below, are clickable for better resolution:

Walk into class having consumed/experienced the first 187 pages (read to the end of Part II) of William Gibson's NEUROMANCER--appearing in 1984, this breakthrough sci-fi classic exposes a bizarre near-future world of cyberpunk hackers and more. Science fiction imagines the future tomorrow but is very much invested in a running commentary on America now--has Gibson's visionary experiment in fiction foreseen elements of your experience of life today?

Finish NEUROMANCER--in class writing challenge a distinct possibility.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday

When you arrive in our seminar room in Arts and Letters 102, a magnificent thing has happened. First, you are there on time because you realize that it's a tad rude to walk in late. Second, you have read up to page 200 in Chuck Palahniuk's CHOKE and the bitter memory of William Gibson's daunting, prolix masterwork NEUROMANCER, seems to have faded away.  Of course now you have to deal with the gnarly, existentially bracing realities of Palahniuk's world view--NOT FOR THE TIMID.

click to enlarge

You've finished CHOKE and your ready for the quiz that will open class today--the quiz, a surprise for the students in the class that never read this calendar (;-0) will be modeled on the template of your final exam, so that exercise will NOT catch you off guard.

From the focused chaos of Chuck Palahniuk's dark comic satire, we move now to a new genre, autobiography/memoir and the writing of Lidia Yuknavitch in CHRONOLOGY OF WATER. Read to page 184 for class today.  As you read, consider the relationship between these key twin literary genres: the novel and the memoir.  Do we bring different skills/emphases to the table when the story being read is ostensibly "true"?

Walk into our chamber of literary delights having finished Yuknavitch's haunting opus CHRONOLOGY OF WATER--be prepared to compare passages/themes from this work to other works you've read this term.

Also: here are some extra-credit/ out of body experience outings for this last weekend of the semester--all writings based on these ventures are due in class Tuesday, July 2, 2013:

1. CHICANO BATMAN concert @ the GRIFFIN, 21+, Saturday; INFO

Write a review of the concert using the POV Vonnegut used in the beginning of BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS--as if your reader have never been in such a place.

2. Screen AUGUSTINE at the Ken Theatre in Kensington--info here. I may be at the Saturday, 4:30 showing.

For this out-of-body writing assignment, review the film as if you were J. Hoberman, famous Village Voice reviewer.  Get a taste of his writing style here.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday

Poetry International #17 is the focus of our very special seminar today featuring the amazing managing editor of Poetry International, the one and only Jenny Minniti-Shippey. Jenny's bringing in some of her talented staff for today's discussion. Please focus your reading on the following sections of the journal:
  • Amy Gerstler portfolio, pp 70-83
  • Michael Dumanis pp 113
  • Various, pp 177-180
  • GC Waldrep, pp 241-247
  • Alicia Ostriker pp 326-330
  • MA Vizsolyi portfolio pp 334-345
  • Sam Taylor portfolio pp 354-367
  • Chard deNiord, pp 373-377

GILBERT HERNANDEZ, selected stories + KAHLO/HERNANDEZ chapter from TEXTMEX

When you walk into class today you will have NOT have read the entire HEARTBREAK SOUP Album--I call it an album as opposed to a "novel" or a collection of "short stories" as each of its interludes are inter-related dealing with the day to day lives of a circle of folks largely from Palomar, a fictionalized, isolated town in Central America.  You are free to read any stories that catch your eye, but you must have at least read the following carefully:
  • ECCE HOME, p. 137
  • LOVE BITES, p. 213
To assist with your reading of the FRIDA/HERNANDEZ chapter in Tex[t]-Mex, you may enjoy reading Hernandez's homage to Friday Kahlo here.

+ REVIEW for the FINAL....


You walk into the room proud of yourself: you know much more about 20th and 21st century American Literature than you did when your ventured into our seminar room and, more importantly, you know that you need to know more about it at the same time. Today's exercise will test your memory and commitment to our collective project, but it is also an opportunity for you to synthesize our whirlwind of a tour of Sex, Drugs, Film, Lit, & Rock.  Good luck--please arrive ON TIME; the exam begins promptly at 10am and should take an hour of your life; you have, however, until 11:40am to complete your challenge.