Intro to English Studies

Fall 2019

Instructor: Ruth Y. Hsu (

Course description, goals:

This course is designed to strengthen, deepen, and expand your capacity to read and to analyze, to write about, and to discuss literary and cultural texts. One portion of the reading list consists of novellas, drama, film, graphic narratives, and memoirs. Another category of texts consists of scholars writing about literary and cultural texts from different methodological stances, such as poststructuralism, Marxian criticism, feminisms, or postcolonial theory. Introducing you to various analytical frameworks is a means of introducing you to English Studies as a discipline with its own history and ways of constituting society, the environment, and humans. A third category of reading concerns studying how we can compose persuasive and compelling writing—formal, or more casual, or creative pieces about literature, culture, and literary criticism–in our overlapping roles of reader, thinker, writer, critic and scholar. Together, we will be undertaking careful and detailed analyses of all assigned texts. I will provide written feedback on your writing, and we will schedule meetings outside of class in order to discuss your work.

Required texts:

Alani Apio, Kāmau and Kāmau a‘e (drama)

Apio, his third play in this trilogy will premiere at Kumu Kahua Theater (from 8/22/19 to 9/22/19; student ticket is $5, each; class members must attend this play; website is

H. Porter Abbott, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative.

Peter Barry, Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (graphic narrative)

Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (novella)

Eileen Tabios, Witness in the Convex Mirror. (poetry)

Run Lola Run (Tykwer; film)

Tillie Walden, On a Sunbeam (online sci-fi comic (free))

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

  1. Students will strengthen their ability to analyze, to write about, to discuss literary and cultural texts and literary criticism;
  2. Students will improve their ability to use a broad range of terminology in literary and cultural studies, including terms and concepts associated with specific analytical frameworks;
  3. Students will improve their ability to put together persuasive and analytical papers in an academic setting, including the techniques of paraphrasing, introducing quotations, and the appropriate use of citation styles;
  4. Students will be able to situate literary, cultural, and scholarly texts within larger historical and political debates about the purposes of class, gender, racial, and ethnic identity categories, and the discourse of national literatures and of aesthetics.

 Requirements: Bi-weekly forum posts (each post must be 300-350 words); one mid-term paper (min. 5, double-spaced pages; must include substantial pre-writing); class presentations (5 to 10 minutes); a final essay exam (take-home; must include pre-writing). All components of all writing and course assignments must be completed in order for you to pass the class.