FRESHMAN SEMINAR - First Person Plural: Voices Across Cultures

M 2-3P

This seminar examines the role of language and literature in expressing identities across cultures, the place of exile in shaping voice and story, and questions of origins as we go beyond the maxim "lost in translation" to explore what gets found as voices and places are remade. Readings will include  a novel by Michio Takeyama (Harp of Burma), and short stories by Madeleine Thien (Simple Recipes), Rattawut Lapcharoensap (Sightseeing), Merlinda Bobis (White Turtle) and Nam Le (The Boat). We will situate these readings, which journey to and from or transit through, Burma, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam, against essays on creativity, translation and mobility by writers Michael Chabon (Imaginary Homelands) and Siri Hustvedt (Yonder). Success in this course requires a love of story, an interest in elsewhere, an appreciation of the power of voice, and what author Rick Moody defined in a recent Paris Review interview as a "delight in language." Students will be required to complete four short written exercises. Participation in class discussions is required, and attendance in all seminars is mandatory.   This seminar is part of the Connections@Cal initiative.


Sightseeing, Rattawut Lapcharoensap, Grove Press, ISBN: 080217880

Harp of Burma, Michio Takeyama, Tuttle Press, ISBN: 0804802327

The Boat, Nam Le, Vintage, ISBN: 0307388190

Simple Recipes, Madeleine Thien, Back Bay Books, ISBN: 0316833169

Fall 2012