ENGL 4925 Practicum in Literature and Language


Catalog Description

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of GWAR; English major with senior standing.  A variable topic integrated culminating experience that embeds students’ knowledge of language and literature in activities situated in concrete community, professional, and civic contexts. Writing intensive. (wi)

English 4925 satisfies the upper division writing requirement for English majors.

Course Description

ENGL 4925 Practicum in Literature and Language is one of the Core courses in the English undergraduate degree program.  Students choose ENGL 4925, ENGL 4910 (Practicum in the Teaching of Literature), or ENGL 4920 (Seminar in Literature and Language) as the culminating experience of the undergraduate program in English.  Majors, having developed familiarity and facility with the concepts, histories, and theories central to the study of literature and language, use ENGL 4925 to test and amplify that knowledge in practical contexts, including internships, service learning, and community engagement.  The course content will vary from one offering to the next, depending on faculty interest and specialization.  Projects acknowledge and celebrate the diverse applications of reading, narrative, and critical endeavor in academic life as well as in society at large, reinforcing the conviction that humanistic education may be not only an individual good but also an asset to the commons.

This topics course offers opportunities for students with particular and practical interests in responding to community need or in professionalization and preparation for a particular career.  Each varied iteration of the course reinforces the ways in which the study of language and literature connects to critical thinking, social responsibility, professional and entrepreneurial initiative, and an understanding of the relationship between the university and the communities it serves, both in Los Angeles and beyond.  It also affords faculty opportunities to explore innovative and high-impact pedagogy, to energize the practical outcomes of undergraduate student research, and to renew the university’s civic mission, all the while generating new understandings of the stakes of knowledge production beyond the academic setting.

Content and course initiatives will depend on faculty expertise; may include a civic learning/community engagement component.

ENGL 4925 is a writing-intensive (wi) course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the complex relationships between the university and community
  • demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively and creatively
  • apply disciplinary knowledge and skill in critical thinking, reading, and writing in concrete vocational or community-based contexts
  • reflect on the ways that practical experience can test, reinforce, and complicate disciplinary knowledge

Course Outline

The practicum might be organized in a number of ways; its content will vary. Listed below are two possible approaches to the content and organization of the practicum.

Practicum:  Literary Institutions and Sites of Reading

Classroom Module

Part 1: Modern Modes of Reading (Read: R. Zboray, W. Benjamin)

Part 2: Libraries (Augst)

Part 3: Academic Canons and Popular Reading (Guillory, Stiles)

Part 4: Genre and the Construction of Reading Practices

Study A:  The antebellum literary marketplace and Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (Raillton)

Study B:  Sentimentalism and gendered reading (Davidson)

Part 5: Reading as a Political and Social Practice

Study A:  Horatio Alger and social stratification

Study B:  Frederick Douglass and the power of knowledge

Service Learning Module I trains students as literacy tutors at Glendale Public Library

Service Learning Module II has students organizing reading-related events (reading groups, poetry discussions, memoir workshops, etc.) at various local sites according to their own interests

Practicum:  Human Rights and the Literary Imagination

Part 1: Introduction to writing and thinking methods; oral history

Part 2: Conceptualizing literature, globalization and Human Rights (Hunt, Inventing Human Rights)

Part 3: The history of Chavez Ravine; campus visit from Wyvernwood Committee of Hope representative

Part 4: Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

Part 5: Wyvernwood tour; preparation of interview questions; oral history collection parts 1 and 2    

Part 6: McCarthy, The Road

Part 7: Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart

Part 8: In-class essays and portfolio preparation

About the Banner: Poster display created for the "Storying Wyvernwood" project (2014) at Cal State LA (see also "Storying Wyvernwood" (http://www.calstatela.edu/academic/english/storying-wyvernwood) and "Storying Wyvernwood: A Community-Based Exhibition" (http://www.calstatela.edu/academic/english/storying-wyvernwood-community...).