Slavic R5A, Section 1: Reading & Composition: In the Zone

TuTh 8-9:30, 100 Wheeler. Instructor: Josefina Lundblad-Janjic.

Units: 4

All Reading & Composition courses must be taken for a letter grade in order to fulfill this requirement for the Bachelor’s Degree. This course satisfies the first half or the “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

In this course we will explore texts written in prisons or about concentration camps from St. Paul’s prison epistles of the first century to the Netflix adaptation of Piper Kerman’s memoir Orange is the New Black. We will read literary as well as autobiographical works based on personal experience of incarceration in diverse historical and geographical contexts: nineteenth-century Russia and Britain, twentieth-century Auschwitz, the Soviet Gulag, and the USA. These works explore marginal spaces of exclusion and exile where voices and lives marred by marginality confront and challenge both the author and the reader. Topics for reading and discussion will include: how concepts of crime and punishment relate to criminals and “non-criminals” (political prisoners); how mainstream literary conventions are subverted in the periphery genre of prison and camp narratives; and what texts about the violence and violations “in the zone” can tell us about the society and literature beyond it which both sustain and inform prisons and camps.

Primary Texts:
St. Paul, The prison epistles (selections)
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from the Dead House (selections)
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Varlam Shalamov, Kolyma Tales
Till My Tale Is Told: Women’s Memoirs of the Gulag 
Piper Kerman, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison

Orange is the New Black, dir. Jenji Kohan (2013-2015): S1E1+S1E2+S1E3

Prerequisite: Successful completion of the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement. Students may not enroll in nor attend R1A/R5A courses without completing this prerequisite.