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Hellen Lee
English Department


ENGL 150K The West in American Literature

Gold Rush. Hollywood. Freeway shootings. California, as a location and as a concept, is regularly the repository of a myriad of desires and fears, harsh realities and even harsher imaginings, from those within and beyond the boundaries of the state. In this course, we will focus on three specific geographic and cultural areas -- San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the Central Valley -- as a means to interrogate the meanings and representations of the state. We will start by exploring the historical roots of the struggles and costs that surround establishing statehood and end by analyzing images of California as a utopia/dystopia. In addition to literature and films, we will study historical, sociological, and legal accounts to access a fuller examination of the ways in which racial intolerance, limited terms of citizenship, exclusive immigration policies, and gender and class hierarchies were enacted and contested. Focus will be on textual analysis and cultural context.