Bakersfield College


English 1A

English B1AL

English B1AL, Expository Composition with Supplemental Instruction, is a transfer level composition course that offers extra support while covering the fundamentals of college level writing. This course meets an additional 50 minutes twice a week in a lab setting with the same instructor and allows students to get extra focused support from the instructor on grammar, essay construction, critical reading approaches, and more! This is an ideal course for students who want extra help and guidance in order to succeed in college level English. If you have taken B1A in the past and need to repeat it, are a bit unsure of your composition skills, or just want to excel in transfer level writing, this is the class for you!

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.

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: water usage and rights in California, 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 Water and Power: A California Heist for the first unit on water. 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 The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, and they will also watch the Oscar-nominated documentary 13th. Each of the three units culminates in an essay.

Christopher Doyen

My English 1A course focuses on topics such as health, education, parenting, advertising, immigration, and civil rights.   

The first part of the class focuses on the recently-released book entitled Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Family and Personal Relationships, featuring pro-con arguments on topics such as adoption, homeschooling, and immigration, among others. 

The second portion of the class centers on the book Fast Food Nation.  Students analyze various aspects of the author’s critique of the entire fast food industry, from worker treatment and injuries, to foodborne pathogens, to treatment of animals. 

At the end of the semester, students will have the chance to choose from a long list of topics to conduct research on, including video game violence, doping in sports, animal rights, censorship, gun control, and many more.

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 Classic 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 novel 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 finish 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.”

Daniel Gomes

The overarching theme of my course is on “Propaganda and Public Opinion.” A notoriously difficult word to define, “propaganda” does not simply refer to blatant lies but to how information is motivated. This course examines the history, techniques, and debates over propaganda, as the term took on a new meaning in the twentieth century. Beginning with classic essays by writers such as Walter Lippmann, Harold Lasswell, and Edward Bernays, we discuss how while some were horrified by propaganda others made a case that it was essential to safeguarding a democratic society. The mutual impact of propaganda on theories of psychology will further be examined through the Adam Curtis’s documentary series The Century of the Self. The course concludes with arguably the most trenchant critique of controlling societies through propaganda: George Orwell’s 1984. Along the way, students will have the opportunity to analyze and discuss primary materials, including World War I posters, Second World War films by Frank Capra, and Cold War comic books.
Throughout the course, we will continually raise questions about the meaning and ethics of propaganda. How and why has propaganda been defined in different historical contexts? Is its use in society necessarily bad? Could public service campaigns, education, art, and/or advertising also be considered propaganda? What can previous discussions about propaganda tell us about contemporary anxieties over fake news? We will raise these questions not to reach definitive answers but to stimulate ideas for the central purpose of this course: to research and write on a topic of your choice.

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.

Naomi Rutuku

My 1A course materials change from time to time because it is my goal to keep the discussions fresh and focused on recent and relevant ideas and conversations. In my class, topics are often focused on education, community inequalities, and technology. Readings are by a range of multi-ethnic authors, and students will read one full-length book in the course. Students will have an opportunity to choose meaningful topics that are unique to them as they craft their formal essays.

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.

Jason Spitzer

The focus of this course will be success and the American Dream.

All of us want to be successful -- isn’t that why we’re here? But what is success, who is it for, and how do we get there? Implicit in our society is the notion that all who live or come to our country can attain the American Dream -- success manifested through self-determination. But is the American Dream a reality or a fantasy? 

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argues that we have misconceptions when it comes to our ideas of success: it’s not as simple as intelligence or diligence. It’s about opportunity and cultural heritage and factors beyond ourselves. In $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, authors Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer present a compelling look at poverty in the United States today. In the documentary Inequality for All, Robert Reich and the filmmakers contend that income inequality impairs the American Dream for millions of Americans. 

Ultimately, our reading, analysis, and discussion of these works will lead to a critical synthesis essay: What is success and how does it relate to the idea of the American Dream? Is the American Dream still an attainable goal or even a goal one should desire to attain?

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 success. We read the 2016 New York Times Bestseller Grit by psychologist Angela Duckworth, along with some of the most current psychological research in the field of success to find out just what it takes to become successful.  Related topics included in the class readings that can springboard into research topics include the relationship between happiness and success, success in education, alternatives to higher education, the American Dream, mindset, the role of talent vs. effort, etc. This topic tends to resonate with students because, after all, who doesn’t want to learn how to become successful?


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.