Bakersfield College

Bakersfield College Administration Building

English 1A

Most English 1A sections include an “umbrella topic” for the research paper and the reading of a minimum 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.

Savanna Andrasian

The theme of my 1A course is “books versus movies.” We will be delving into novels that have been made into popular films over the years. In this class, students will research and analyze seven different works: Hunger Games, The Color Purple, Fight Club, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Peter Pan, The Great Gatsby, and Of Mice and Men.

Students will hone their critical thinking skills, reading comprehension, writing skills, and research abilities. In addition to that, students will be taught how to write in accordance to MLA format. Students will write several paper assignments that vary from 1-5 pages in length.  
 

David Besst

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 and Norris’s McTeague, as well as short stories by other writers, including 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.
 

Andrew Bond

My B1A course is titled "Pastures, Pipelines, and Prisons: Critically Engaging the Economies of the Central Valley."

The course approaches the major industries of the Central Valley and our local region as they are represented in both fiction and non-fiction texts and other media. The course is divided into three sections, each focusing on a specific part of the local economy: the oil industry, agriculture and migratory labor, and the prison industrial complex. These broader themes intersect with relevant topics such as capitalism, race, class, immigration, labor rights, and other pertinent concepts and issues. This is all to serve the purpose of providing students with the knowledge and tools needed to think critically about those forces undergirding or undermining the region and our own communities.

Students will view the film There Will Be Blood for the first unit on the oil industry. In the second unit on agriculture and migratory labor, students will read Factories in the Field: The Story of Migratory Farm Labor in California by Carey McWilliams, America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan, and Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes. For the third unit, which focuses on the prison industrial complex, students will read Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California by Ruth Wilson Gilmore and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, and they will also watch the Oscar-nominated documentary Thirteenth. Each of these units culimnates in an essay assignement.
 

Christopher Doyen

Professor Doyen requires three books for his English 1A. 

First, a brand new edition of Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Family and Personal Relationships features pro-con arguments regarding such timely and pertinent issues as immigrant education in America’s public schools, homeschooling in the U.S., and denying children’s medical care due to religious convictions, among others.  Each issue comes along with two articles—one arguing for the issue and the other arguing against it.  Students must read these articles and be ready to discuss the details of both sides.  Then, students will take a side and write an argument paper where they must refer to both articles.  This offers a smooth segue into English 1a in that the first essay is similar to the synthesis paper required in English 50.

Next, we’ll read Fast Food Nation.  This book is a perfect one for English 1a.  It criticizes the entire fast food industry, in terms of the way it treats workers, the effects on our health, the quality of the food, and more.  For the second essay, students must focus on one of these topics from the book, and they must also find a few scholarly journal articles to refer to from the BC library databases.

Lastly, the semester will end with a 5-page research paper, using the book Rules for Writers as a guide to writing the research paper.  Students will be given a list of a few dozen various topics to choose from, including issues such as assisted suicide, autism, video game violence, and addiction.  Students being able to choose topics they are interested in learning more about results in higher-quality papers.

Note: the booklist may be subject to change due to books by visiting authors being assigned for the One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern program.
 

Gloria Dumler

The term “fairy tale” usually conjures up memories of Disney movies, including singing mice, animated teapots, and intrepid mermaids. The true history of fairy tales is much darker, including elements of murder, cannibalism, infanticide, and incest. Fairy tales and other folk tales have always been more than merely children’s stories; they mirror the fears, hopes, social mores, and values of the cultures that create them. These tales continue to be told because of their universal nature and their reflections of societal attitudes. This class investigates these narratives in the context of their origins, longevity, and evolving roles in popular culture. Our approach will be interdisciplinary, utilizing the  The Class Fairy Tales, a Norton Critical Edition, including explorations of how fairy tales relate to sociological and historical issues, psychological issues, and the pedagogical and political uses and abuses of fairy tales. We will investigate specific tale types and trace their transformations across cultures from oral storytelling through print to film, television, and the stage. Along with fairy tales, both folkloric and literary, we will read Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose, in which the author takes the motifs of “Sleeping Beauty” and deals with one of the darkest periods in modern history, the rise of the Third Reich and the Holocaust it engendered. We follow with Erik Hoffer’s The True Believer, which examines the motives and views of the types of personalities that engender authoritarian mass movements like Nazism, why and how these movements start, and the similarities between them. We end with Angela Carter’s 1979 short story collection The Bloody Chamber and Other Tales, described by critic Chris Power as “a unique, disruptive work that places gender politics center-stage and refuses to be easily categorized.”
 

Kathy Freeman

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.
 

Gary Graupman

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.
 

Jennifer Jett

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 Men, The 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.
 

Andrew Lamers

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.
 

Rebecca Monks

My English 1A course focuses on the ethics, psychology, nutrition, philosophy, and politics of food.

Students read essays from a food anthology that explore the definitions, purpose, ethics, and future of food and one full-length  non-fiction work of investigative journalism that delves into the policies and practices of food in farm fields, retail outlets, and restaurants.

Critical reading, thinking, and writing are key components of the course and are demonstrated through class discussions, exercises, quizzes, and writing assignments, including thought papers, an analysis of a food advertisement, a synthesis essay, and a research paper on a food-related topic. 
 

Denise Mitchell

Our class topic is “Reality and Crime Fiction.” 

We will read one police procedural novel, Buried Strangers by Leighton Gage, that looks at the relationship between the federal police and the local police in solving crimes in Brazil.  We will also read a number of short stories that reflect both the history and the forms of detective fiction.  Our research will focus on answering questions regarding the social impact of crime fiction.  Why has the genre remained a major seller since the days of Poe?  What about crime draws people in?  How does the fiction reflect the various social and cultural truths of its society?  How does crime fiction teach us about ourselves and our society? 
 

William Mitchell

Our class topic for English 1a is “Racial Paranoia in America During World War II.”  

We will read one romantic, historical novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford. This story focuses on Japanese Americans at the beginning of World War 2 and those people’s struggles with white Americans, Chinese Americans, and black Americans. These complex relationships are an important part of our nation’s history and are similar to issues that continue in this country today. We will also read a number of essays that discuss similar topics in our modern time. Our variety of readings will show that both fiction and non-fiction can be very effective tools in understanding important social issues. Our research will investigate significant points that arise in our discussion of these readings and their reflection of life in our twenty-first century multicultural society.
 

David Moton

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: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal 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.
 

Paula Parks

The course theme is "Marginalized Groups."

Marginalization is treating someone as less valuable based on factors, such as gender, race, religion,abilities, country of origin, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or age. Readings, discussions, and research center around how marginalization is defined, how it affects individuals and the community at large, and ways to address this oppression. The assigned text is Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy.
 

Janeen Smith

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 Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces and Carol Pearson's The Hero Within. These books will help us identify and explore our personal archetypal patterns and Writing Worth Reading (3rd ed.) will assist in the structural portion of the research paper on our topic.
 

Neal Stanifer

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.
 

Julie Willis

The umbrella topic for my English 1a class is interconnectedness. The course attempts to look beyond America to see how our actions affect the entire world—socially, culturally, and environmentally—and, conversely, how the actions of people all over the world affect us.  To this end, we will read Kelsey Timmerman’s Where Am I Wearing? as well as a variety of articles related to interconnectedness. Student research topics may explore issues related to globalization, technology, communication, consumerism, social media, world culture, the environment, and public health as these deal with global interconnectedness.

 

Jana Lee Wong

The term “controversy” usually sparks discussions of the taboo, but my English B1A course will improve students’ expository writing, research skills, and critical thinking by enhancing communications and writing about highly political subjects and research. This class investigates the historical controversy of immigration policies in America through the non-fiction narration of The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea. Moreover, it analyzes the struggle of overcoming racist systems by exploring Citizen : An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. Further studies will incorporate approaches to literature by studying the psychological approach of two mass murderers in the non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Finally, we will critically debate about the ethics and validity of Greg Mortenson’s and David Oliver Relin’s non-fiction novel, Three Cups of Tea. Our approach will be interdisciplinary, utilizing critical reviews, film, historical clips, and group discussion and debate to broaden our understanding of what creates controversy and how we move others with credible arguments.

Kern Community College District