Sophomore Seminars

The American Road Trip

ENGLISH 93Q

From Whitman to Kerouac, Alec Soth to Georgia O'Keeffe, the lure of travel has inspired many American artists to pack up their bags and hit the open road. In this sophomore seminar we will be exploring the art and literature of the great American road trip. We will be reading and writing in a variety of genres, workshopping our own stories, and considering the ways in which our personal journeys have come to inform and define our lives. You will be encouraged to keep a journal and to explore a wide breadth of narrative approaches. Assignments will range from reading Cormac McCarthy's novel, The Road, to listening to Bob Dylan's album, Highway 61 Revisited. The frame of this class is the American journey, and while we will approach this subject from many different angles and backgrounds, the assignments are designed to encourage a wide range of diversity under our theme. Much of what we do in the class involves reflection and sharing of personal narratives with the group. We will be looking at films like Badlands and Thelma and Louise, acquainting ourselves with contemporary photographers, looking at books by Cheryl Strayed and John Steinbeck, going on a number of campus-wide field trips, and finishing the quarter with an actual road trip down the California coast. Anyone with a sense of adventure is welcome!

Meet the Instructor(s)

Kai Carlson-Wee

Kai Carlson-Wee has rollerbladed professionally, surfed north of the Arctic Circle, and traveled across the country by freight train. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and his work has appeared in Narrative MagazineBest New Poets, TriQuarterlyCrazyhorse, and The Missouri Review, which selected his poems for the 2013 Editor's Prize. His photography has been featured in Narrative Magazine and his poetry film, "Riding the Highline," won the jury award for Innovation in Documentary Short Film at the 2015 Napa Valley Film Festival. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he lives in San Francisco and is a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.