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Analytical Imagination Challenge Numero Uno!!!

Analytical Imagination Challenge Numero Dos!!!
SPRING 2015  ENGL 220.03

A day to day class diary for...

William A. Nericcio |
Director, MALAS; Professor, English y CompLit


January 22 | Thursday

It is the first class--are your eyes wide open? Can you see what we are talking about? Are your prosthetic eye-pieces in place? Your glasses? Your contacts? Your Google Glass? (No glassholes allowed in this seminar!)

Good.  Before you walk into our I/Eyegasmatorium, GMCS 333, you will have printed out and carefully read, marked up, made notes upon, and otherwise textually disfigured this reading.

There is a very big, huge, awesome (and British) surprise waiting in store for you today.

It may leave you breathless (or, at the very least, have your brain, and eyes and I's expanding)!

January 27 | Tuesday

It's a fine Tuesday morning, and you come to class, our beautiful Eyegasmatorium (GMCS 333), having read the first 80 pages or so of FREUD FOR BEGINNERS--if you like it, keep reading. If you finish that task and find yourself talking to yourself saying, "I don't have to check my facebook, instagram, twitter, messages, or snapchat updates, damn it!! I want to read"--if something mad like that happens, then also start reading as much of this text as you wish, a masterwork of dark, psychological fear and loathing, by Fyodor Dostoyevski, entitled Notes from the Underground (Broadview edition). Does that mean you only have to read one page if you wish?


But it might be cool to read 10 pages of FREUD FOR BEGINNERS, then
10 pages from Dostoyevski, alternating between the texts and seeing if any connections begin to appear, if any subterranean linkages begin to make themselves present.  See you Tuesday!

Oops! 2nd or 3rd assignment due today, Tuesday, January 27, 2015? Download and print the sheet opposite and bring it to class today filled out completely.  The top 25 works of art submitted (pasted pictures don't count) for the self-portrait part of the page will get 10 extra-credit points that can be applied to any quiz during the semester. So, say, you get an 84/100 or B, on Surprise Hateful Quiz 1, it will go down as a 94/100 on the record in May!

January 29 | Thursday

It is Thursday, and instead of doing what that yelling Professor said in class Tuesday, (finish reading NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND) you have, instead, finished reading FREUD FOR BEGINNERS by Richard Appignanesi and Oscar Zarate--you have read it carefully and having fun at the same time. Whilst you were reading there was one page that really cried out to you as being important, really struck you as being pivotal, (important and pivotal to they way YOU read and see people and the world, not entirely what you think or presume I, your professor, and Lupe, Chris, Carlos, and Kaelee, your GTAs will think is important and pivotal). You are going to xerox this one, key page, and on the back of the page you are going to justify your selection.  Be sure to do this assignment as it is your first writing assignment AND the way we are going to check attendance.  Please spare us all bullshit; however, if you do wish to do a little research on Freud, using Project Muse or Jstor (via Love Library) please, not on Wikipedia, go for it.
Tuesday | February 3, 2015

Over the weekend you will read and finish NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND by that "ever-happy" madman, Fyodor Dostoevsky.  More to come. Also, review FREUD FOR BEGINNERS and search for concepts from Freud's work that you imagine could be directly applied to the narrator in NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND. That's right! You're the shrink! As you read, take time to distinguish between Dostoevsky and his main character in this classic novel. One, the former, is the puppeteer; two, the latter, is our narrator, our demente protanogist, put upon by the world and using language somehow as a shield, as a weapon, to survive somehow.  If you are having a tough go with the novel, imagine it as a staged performance: one actor, in the dark on a stage, with a single spotlight. Watch him as he twists and turns and writhes (in/through) language in front of you.

The Broadview edition of the novel is filled with delicious supplements to the text--page through and read as many of them as you wish.

Thursday | February 5, 2015

aving hung out with Dostoevsky & Freud for two weeks, we take a little break today and spend some time furthering our understanding of what it means to see, be, think, and read.  Read the first 5 chapters of John Berger et al's WAYS OF SEEING.  As you read, think about your own relationship to your eyes (to how you relate to things you see). Is "seeing" a given, a basic sense function, or, like most of our senses, is it trained? Is it guided, shaped, invented, and distorted, by our experiences seeing.  The first 25 of you to take a picture from a contemporary magazine advertisement and do a Berger-style critique of the image will get 10 points on top of the grade of any quiz you wish! This picture should be posted to the Facebook page of the class or our Tumblr site by Wednesday midnight, February 4.  If you see more than 25 postings (total on both sites, tumblr and facebook), please do not do this assignment!

Tuesday | Februrary 10, 2015

You walk into class today, eyes filled with meaningfulness!  Over the weekend you have carefully read (and finished) John Berger's WAYS OF SEEING.  As you were reading, however, you had another book atop your lap, Gualdoni's POP ART collection. Why are you SO interested in the conversation between both books? It's owing to the fact that you have a two page writing assignment due today!  You are to photocopy a page from Berger's book (preferably NOT one filled with ONLY images) and you are going to do the same with a page (or two) from the Gualdoni POP ART book!  On the back of these two pages, taped together in the center like this, see below, you are to to write, using dynamic, active-verb laced prose, and avoiding ALL the common errors documented in the grade sheet we use for evaluation that also appears below, a 500 word, two-page essay wherein you justify the juxtaposition you have perpetrated!

The first sentence might read something like this:

"In the words that follow I will seek to document the dynamic connection between the writings of John Berger (and his crew) in Ways of Seeing  and the [insert tasty adjective] art of [insert name of artist or artists] that appear in Flaminio Gualdoni's Pop Art. ...."

You are, of course, free to forge your own introductory sentence, but make sure it is peppy and dynamic! Please do NOT turn in an essay that begins: "I think the pictur is interesting because the artist is important. This importance is key because of the interesting nature of this very important idea" (Actual sentence I have received and that has scarred my mind)!

click to make more bigger

Grade Sheet with Bad Habits to AVOID!

Sample of what the front of your work should look like

Thursday | February 12, 2015

Begin screening Spike Jonze's remarkable film, HER--to get ahead, start reading, THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES, to page 52, the end of Chapter IV.

Tuesday | Februrary 17, 2015

Continue screening and discussing HER, Spike Jonze's timely meditation on technology, subjectivity and sexuality.  Try to read deeply into Hawthorne's novel.
Thursday | February 19, 2015

Finish screening HER in class.  Try to finish HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES.
Tuesday | Februrary 24, 2015

(If you are up to date on your reading of SEVEN GABLES, no worries; we will return to it later this term)!

I know this is appearing too late for most of you to have the reading done, but we will be doing METAMORPHOSIS by Kafka for today and Thursday! You DO have to have the book FINISHED for Thursday's class.  Sorry for the logistical improvisation but as you may understand, my world is a bit in chaos at the moment--like prowling a subterranean world of memory, loss, love, and angst.  Thanks!

Thursday | February 26, 2015

You enter the Eyegasmatorium having finished METAMORPHOSIS by Franz Kafka--as you read, try to imagine points of contact and conflict between Dostoevesky and Kafka.  Toolkit word for the day? EXISTENTIALISM

Tuesday | March 3, 2015

Today finds us in our regular seminar auditorium, the infamous Eyegasmatorium, GMCS 333, to begin our exploration of "Mexicans" in the eyes of mass culture here in the United States and beyond.  To assist us we will be making use of two texts: SLEEP DEALER, a film by Alex Rivera, that we will be screening and discussing in class.  Additionally, we will be using my tome, Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the "Mexican" in America. Read the introduction, seductive hallucination galleries, and, if you wish, the Speedy Gonzales or Rita Hayworth chapters of the book. 

Having trouble finding books? Hit the mexy pooch opposite and scroll to the bottom of that page.

Eyegasms can work in at least two ways--for pleasure (beauty) and for revulsion (the grotesque). The chief agent of revulsion for our species is the stereotype--an ingrained sort of semiotic (and semantic) shorthand that exagerrates and misrepresents individuals and communities.  Think about these bizarre creations as you read my book and screen this film

Thursday | March 5, 2015

REMEMBER: this class will be held, today, Thursday, March 5, 2015, in The Aztec Student Union Theatre--
it is located on the second level of the new, gorgeous, gigantic student union just to the right of Montezuma Hall as you come up the main staircase! (maplink! it is on level 2)  You can't miss it!  But come a little early, to get a good seat and not miss any of the action.

It's a great day for all the Eyegasmanauts as we get to hang out with a real Hollywood celebrity, Alex Rivera, the director of SLEEP DEALER is HERE to hang with us as we finish screening his fim SLEEP DEALER and then move to a presentation/conversation with the talented director.  Continue reading from Tex[t]-Mex as you please!  Today's class is part of a CYBERFRONTERISMOS event sponsored by MALAS, Philosophy Department, the Digital Humanities Initiative, Chicana/o Studies, and CLAS.

Tuesday | March 10, 2015

It is back to literature, but with a twist, as today we plunge in the world of theatre and our first play, OCTOROON, by Dion Boucicault.  Though Bocicault was an Irishman from Dublin who made his fame (and infamy) in London, England, his play was a big hit here in the United States, and we, Literary Archeologists of a sort, will try to sort out just why!? 

This "archeaology" might make some readers uncomfortable as THE OCTOROON is set in the deep south in the middle of the 19nth century.  But just as an archeologist digging in the Roman Baths would expect to find petrified shit in the ruins of an ancient bathroom, we, likewise, will encounter petrified "language," literature revealings itself as a kind of an artifact, which retains within it the cultural DNA of our present now!

Why did this play become such a hit for its East Coast, American audience? How have times changed since the 1860s; how have they remained the same? Walk into the Eyegasmatorium having read the entire play, pages 21 to 75. Give yourself the time to read the play SLOWLY--the first 10 pages may take close to an hour as you get familiar with the dialect and make use of the footnotes.  Once you begin to get a sense of the main players, you should be able to move with more pace and finish the play in preparation for class, Tuesday. You are welcome to read the introduction and the supporting documentation in your Broadview version of the play edited by Sarika Bose.

Thursday | March 12, 2015

From the "charms" of the deep South, we move to the more familiar context of California, Hollywood, and, right in our backyard as it were, the U.S./Mexico borderlands. Today, we will continue our discussion of literature/film as archeology, race, ethnicity, and gender but broaden our scope to include SLEEP DEALER, OCTOROON, and SPEEDY GONZALES--the fastest mouse in all Mexico, or, at least, the version of him you encounter in the pages of TEXTMEX.  For class today BE SURE TO READ the Speedy chapter in TEXTMEX, pages 111 to 152.  (and be sure to bring your copies of OCTOROON and TEXTMEX to class on the off chance we have an in-class assignment). You should come to class with passages/quotes/scenes highlighted in all three works that seem to scream out to you that they are in need of more analysis! Never watched an entire episode focused on "the fastest mouse in all Mexico" before? Then screen the Academy Award winning episode, Speedy Gonzales, Isadrore "I" "Friz" Freleng, director (1955) here; Tabasco Road, Robert McKimson, director (1957) here; and Gonzales Tamales, here, Friz Freleng, director (1957)

Also today, you will receive, via email, your essay long awaited prompts for your ANALYTICAL IMAGINATION CHALLENGE ONE--your first major paper of the semester.  Your work is due in class, Thursday, March 26, 2015.

Tuesday | March 17, 2015

From issues of race and stereotypes, we now to turn to issues of gender!  And while most gender studies-fueled academic adventures focus on women, our focus this week will be on men, young men. Welcome to the pages of Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk--you will enter the Eyegasmatorium this morning having read the first 18 chapters up to page 147! In class, we will be treated to a guest lecture by Noel Zavala, a former SDSU undergraduate/graduate student and mentee of mine who is now finishing up the PhD program at the University of Illinois Urbana Champagne. Zavala's research on the work of contemporary literature with a purposeful and evocative focus on literature and masculinity should help us as we grapple with Palahniuk's outrageous novel.  You are welcome on your own time to screen David Fincher's great cinematic rendition of Palahniuk's novel, but don't rely on it as a substitute for the book--they are markedly different texts!  Zavala's lecture poster appears here:

Thursday | March 19, 2015

As you enter the Eyegasmatorium you feel great!  

Because you finished reading Chuck Palahniuk's FIGHT CLUB before you enter the seminar room and you are psyched!

Palahniuk's monster meditation on contemporary consumer culture where I THINK THEREFORE I AM has been replaced by I SHOP THEREFORE I BE has left you dying to discuss the novel in class.

Come to class with your two favorite passages from the novel and be prepared to share them with your colleagues!  

Should you type them out!?

Sure! In fact, that is how we will take attendance today, so don't come to class without these typed wonders!

Tuesday | March 24, 2015

It is the last week of class before Spring Break, so I know you are slammed trying to finish all your school work so you can jump on a plane to go lose your mind somewhere--for that reason, and as you have a major paper due Thursday, our workload is reduced this week.  Over the weekend, and before you enter the seminar room, you are to read the Touch of Evil chapter in Tex[t]-Mex, pages 39 to 80! In class, we will screen and discuss Orson Welles's magnum opus meditation on the US/Mexico border, TOUCH OF EVIL.
Thursday | March 26, 2015

In class, we will complete our screening/discussion of Touch of Evil, Orson Welles's magnificent bordered/frontera epic!  But also, today, ...

 Tuesday | March 31, 2015

Rest your eyes! It's Spring Break!
Thursday | April 2, 2015

Relax them retinas! Spring Break is here!

 Tuesday | April 7, 2015

It is the day after Spring Break and you enter the room having read Wilhelm Jensen's novel GRADIVA--up to page 140 (it looks like a ton of reading, but, while substantial, the pages are tiny!); also read up to pp.143-196 of Sigmund Freud's essay, "Delusion and Dream in Wilhelm Jensen's Gradiva."  Here we experience side by side, fiction and Freud's interpretation of a piece of fiction--and all of your preparation to date prepares you to hold forth on this striking combo meditation on fetish and fetishism!!!

The best place to get the book is the campus bookstore as they negotiated a special price with the publisher.

Additionally, in class, we will be hosting Dr. Sigmund Freud!  Ok, it won't actually be Siggy in the house, but we will be hosting Dr. Harry Polkinhorn, a real, live, Freudian shrink, aka, Psycho-analyst, who will be decoding your
dreams LIVE, IN-CLASS.  Between now and then, you might want to start keeping a dream journal where you write down all you can remember of your most outrageous dreams! It promises to be one of the most curious, exotic-eccentric classes of the year, so be there! Holy Freud, Batman!

Thursday | April 9, 2015

Finish reading Freud's essay, "Delusion and Dream in Jensen's GRADIVA." Today you get your Analytical Imagination Challenge Numero Uno returned to you in class! Additionally, today, you will receive  prompts for Imagination Challenge Numero Dos!

 Tuesday | April 14, 2015

Oliver Sacks's THE MIND'S EYE has tantalized your imagination over the weekend! You walk into the Eyegasmatorium having read to page 110 of this optic omnibus.  Once again, we are reading essays or non-fiction, that brings with it different superpowers than that required by the novel--as you read, please attend to Dr. Sacks's habits, obsessions, and tactics as a writer!  There is a nice interview with the late clinician here--the focus is on hallucinations and alternative narcotic experimentation.

Thursday | April 16, 2015

Oliver Sacks's THE MIND'S EYE is again on our agenda; read "Persistence of Vision," pp 144-201. You can also read the equally entertaining "The Mind's Eye," pp.202-240, however this second essay is optional not required. As you read Dr. Sack's prose, try to make connections between the ideas he is writing about and the fiction and cinema we have been working on all semester. In class, we will continue our analysis of Dr. Sack's work while also sampling one his Ted talks (thanks to one of your fine colleagues, Kristina Watanabe!), and then, consumed with curiosity regarding hallucinations, seeing, subjectivity, and identity, we will end class with a screening of Chris Marker's LA JETÉE (1962)--Marker, who recently passed, is one of the most influential independent filmmaker of the 20th century.

 Tuesday | April 21, 2015

Nathaniel Hawthorne's THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES is finally on track for our greedy eyes! This bizarre tale of the Pycheon family is considered one of the masterworks in American literary history. The subject of the novel, however, is VERY contemporary--in fact the degree to which the novel summarizes many of the ideas, themes, motifs, and more from our Eyegasmic semester of fun will prove surprising!  Be sure to set aside quiet time to devour Hawthorne's prose, as the pages WILL NOT be turning very fast.  If you are not going to try to read the book and will rely on Spark Notes and Cliff's Notes for the experience of the novel, don't bother coming to class--you're just not ready for this heavy duty dose of literary hallucinogens! Read pages 3 to 113--if you do not have the Norton edition, read to the end of chapter X (10).

Thursday | April 23, 2015

Today you will turn in Imagination Challenge Numero Dos!!!!!

Surprise Movie in class, Black Mirror--no additional reading today as you have been preparing your second paper and your professor and graduate teaching assistants want you to rock our eyes and minds with your findings!

 Tuesday | April 28, 2015

Hawthorne's THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES continues to hound your imagination; before entering class today, you make sure to have read up to page 188, the end of Chapter XVII (17).  Hawthorne's novel is known as both a psychological novel and a gothic classic. As you read, search for elements of the book that are "gothic" even as you hunt for "psychological" traces as well; in the end, the two categories may seem to merge/fuse as ultimately, they are intimately related.
Thursday | April 30, 2015

Our final class on Nathaniel Hawthorne's THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES--read pp. 188 to 225 and walk into class patting yourself on the back for being a bona fide university student and having finished your reading.
Tuesday | May 5, 2015
Study Day--no class today as you prepare for your final examination analytical festival event.

Thursday | May 7, 2015

Final Examination Analytical Festival event--held TODAY, during our last day of class in our beautiful Eyegasmatorium starting at 11am sharp! This Final Examination Festival is comprehensive, so please do be sure you've completed all reading assignments for the semester--here is a peek at some past exams so you have a sense of what to expect for today's test: one, two, & three.

Tuesday | May 12

What are you doing here--you already took the final exam on May 7, 2014, right? So the CLASS IS OVER, right?

Right!!! However, the official SDSU Final Exam schedule lists TODAY, May 12, 2015, as our designated Final Exam date with the time listed from 10:30am to 12:30pm, so we want to make good use of this extra time slot the University throws at us.

So, as all your work for the semester has been completed, I will be in the Eyegasmatorium, GMCS 333, today, with all your graded finals, papers, exams, quizzes, etc that you may wish to pick up now to immortalize in some museum someday--or, more seriously, to ensure that you have been evaluated/graded fairly and no mistakes have been made! REMEMBER, with 300 students in our class, errors are bound to occur so it falls upon you to ensure that your earned grades have been entered and calculated properly. I will be in the room also to share with you your final grade and show you how we arrived at that determination also.