English 1A Instructors and Topics

Most English 1A sections include an "umbrella topic" for the research paper, and the outside reading of two full-length works.  Since these vary from instructor to instructor, this page contains information from professors on their course reading and themes as an aid to deciding which English 1A section best fits your needs and interests. Some instructors have websites; click on their names.

Barton,  Edwin 

The central themes of my English 1A are love and marriage, and the course as a whole is devoted to literature and literary analysis.  Students will be expected to read Shakespearean love sonnets and seventeenth century poems in the carpe diem tradition, as well as Shakespeare's romantic comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Jane Austen's comedy of manners Pride and Prejudice.  The major assignments include two summaries of poems, a synthesis of the play and background sources, and a research paper and revision based on Pride and Prejudice and critical essays about the novel.

Besst, David

My class examines American culture by looking at historical and literary movements of the late nineteenth century that have influenced American society today.  Readings and films will explore American realism and naturalism as a reflection of society.  Students will read two novels, Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets Norris's McTeague; short stories include such writers as Kate Chopin, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Susan Glaspell, and Flannery O'Connor.  Two short papers will be written on the novels.  Additional writing assignments include a long summary, two critiques, and a ten-page research paper which focuses on analyzing the origin of some change in an element of American society (women's rights, treatment of minorities, class divisions, labor movements, advances in technology, entertainment) and how that change has influenced American culture or society today.

Dumler, Gloria

Our focus will be on information competency, also known as information literacy. How do we decode the complicated world around us? We live in a world of rapid technological change and countless information sources, many of them unreliable, either through deliberate bias or sheer incompetence. We are confronted with diverse news and entertainment media, including the Internet; corporations’ public relations’ departments; advertising agencies; political and other special interest groups; and more. Too often we do not closely question the authenticity, validity, and reliability of our chosen sources. Both the dubious quality and increasing quantity of information pose challenges that we, as inhabitants of one of the world’s superpowers, must face. The mere proliferation of information does not result in an informed citizenry if citizens do not possess the abilities necessary to understand and use information effectively. In 1989, the American Library Association (ALA) Presidential Committee on Information Literacy issued a final report that defined the four crucial components of information literacy: (1) the ability to recognize when information is needed and to (2)  locate,  (3) evaluate and  (4) use effectively the needed information. We will be studying and practicing information competency skills as we look at the American food system and the impact of corporations, advertising, media multinationals, and news media.


Freeman, Kathy

It had all the ingredients for one of those summer blockbuster disaster movies — a hurricane, collapsed levees, citizens killed or trapped in their flooded city, and an ill-equipped government response. We were transfixed by the news coverage, and at times outraged and horrified by the images we saw. My English 1A will explore media coverage and interpretations of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. We will read 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina by acclaimed columnist Chris Rose; After the Storm: Black Intellectuals Explore the Meaning of Hurricane Katrina, edited by David Dante Troutt; and we will view Spike Lee’s award-winning documentary, When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.

The readings will be the basis for in-class essays in the Humanities’ computer lab, as well as a short paper, as students learn how to cite sources to avoid plagiarism. Students also will learn how to find their own college-level research through the Bakersfield College library for a ten-page paper.

Graupman, Gary

The common thread running through my English 1A course is social issues that include prejudice, aging, sexism, raising children, the United States' role in the world, and the American dream. The United States' role in the world and the American dream are explored with the two novels used in the class: Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The other themes are explored through short essays, poetry, lyrics, and video clips. The research paper topic is left to the student to decide with the approval of the instructor. Students are encouraged to research a topic that is relevant  and important to them.

Jett, Jennifer

My English 1A focuses on the themes of masculinity, society, and sanity and the connections between these themes as exemplified in literature and film.  The course focuses on seven major works of fiction (Fight Club, Shawshank Redemption, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Lolita, Of Mice and MenThe Godfather, and Dracula) and explores the literary aspects of the novels as well their  adaptations into film.  We will be reading scholarly articles pertaining to the novels and films and viewing portions of the relevant films in class.  In addition to the intense reading schedule, students will complete a short analytical paper for each of the seven novel/film pairs as well as a seven-page research paper that deals with a topic pertinent to our readings.

Monks, Rebecca

My English 1A course explores contemporary issues in varied academic disciplines through essays, movies, fiction, and non-fiction created by a diversity of authors. 

Students exhibit their understanding of course concepts in writing assignments including summaries, a critique, essays, and a synthesis. Throughout the quarter, students learn the research techniques and the process of researching, writing, and presenting a research topic. The course culminates in an 8-10-page research paper.

Lamers, Andrew

Gender Conflicts and Issues

The umbrella topic for my English 1A course is "Gender Issues and Conflicts." Course readings, discussions, and essay assignments will focus on definitions of masculinity and femininity in American culture (and in other cultures as well), both now and in the past, and also on prominent issues that highlight the differing expectations and treatment of each gender. Students will read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms; each author provides intriguing insights into the motivations and behaviors of men and women. The research paper will be based on a "gender issue" selected by the student and approved by the instructor.


Mitchell, Denise 

Our class topic for English 1a is “Society and Crime Fiction.” We will read two novels that look at the private investigator: Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress and Lucha Corpi's Black Widow's Wardrobe (2000). We will also read a number of short stories that help illustrate the history and the popularity of the genre. Our focus will investigate, through the use of scholarship, the various forms of detective fiction, as well as research into why this particular style continues to thrive and how the style reflects the views and concerns of society.


Mitchell, William

Our class topic for English 1a is “Science Fiction and Society” We will read two novels that demonstrate how science fiction uses literature to explore our society. In addition, we’ll read several science fiction short stories that reveal how science fiction takes aim at our lives, our beliefs, and the complex challenges we face. With each of these works, we will investigate how science fiction has confronted the world we live in and, as a result, how we may shape our future.

Moton, David

Advertising and Hollywood have us working jobs we really don’t want, just to buy things we don’t really need.  With this philosophy, Fight Club’s Tyler Durden tries to shake the sleeping giant of America awake and into action.  While this advice comes from the novel we’ll study in my course, it is the focus of much scholarship and criticism surrounding mass media and popular (consumer) culture.

This English 1A class will look at how multinational corporate giants have gained control of our airwaves and checkbooks to further their own agendas.  We’ll study the scholarship and fiction surrounding consumerism, ad techniques, and threats to democracy.  We'll spend the first half of the semester looking at Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation to see exactly what is wrong with the American food supply, and we'll read Fight Club and some other literature that examines problems with the typical American over-consumerism and corporate greed.

Powell, Cynthia


Smith, Janeen

My course explores the archetype of the Hero's Journey in Greek myth, Medieval legend, various religious traditions and into the modern American novel, autobiography,  and film. We will explore this journey on two levels: as Joseph Campbell's "monomyth", a pattern of mythic and literary tradition found in all cultures throughout recorded history; and as a tool to help you navigate your own life's path. You will read Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, and Barack Obama's Dreams From My Father.  Carol Pearson's The Hero Within will help identify and explore our personal archetypal patterns and Writing Worth Reading (3rd ed.) will assist in the structural portion of a 10 page research paper requirement on our topic.


Stanifer, Neal

The central topic for my English 1A course is the public perception of science.  We will cover some related topics, such as technology and social media, science education, and the current state of American science literacy, but we will focus our attention for much of the course on famous controversies and breakthroughs in science and engineering and what those have meant for Americans.  The research paper assignment will ask students to examine public and official government responses to contentious issues such as genetic modification of foods, cloning, stem-cell research, the exploration of space, climate change, and the teaching of evolution in public schools.

Wayland, Scott

My English 1A focuses on the theme of journeys and quests, the search for meaning, achievement and knowledge. Starting with Joseph Campbell's ideas on the hero's quest, the course deals with short readings from an anthology called Thresholds, by J. Sterling Warner, and two full-length works; one, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, traces one young man's tragic pursuit of the perfect wilderness experience and what, for him, constitutes the most meaningful life. The other book, Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver, a novel, tells the story of a woman's search for meaning and belonging in the wake of a very difficult childhood. The research essay topic is up to the student's choice of any significant journey, quest, hero or heroine. Students will also need Lester's Writing Research Papers to help them through the course.


Willis, Julie

My English 1A umbrella topic is food.  The course readings focus on topics such as food safety, nutrition, consumerism, body image, food production, factory farming, hunger, and food technology.  These readings provide the basis for class discussion, writing, and possible research paper topics.  To augment our study of the history of food production and conditions for animals and workers, we read the historical fictional novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.  Other major readings include In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and a significant portion of Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.  During the first half of the semester, students write three summaries, short essays, and critiques as well as a longer essay on a topic raised in The Jungle. The latter half of the semester is focused on the persuasive research paper on any topic related to the umbrella topic of food.


This page last edited 04 Dec 2012