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Open Access Publications from the University of California

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Widely recognized as one of the leading departments in the nation, English at UCLA long has been known for its innovative research and excellence in teaching. Today, the English Department maintains its strong commitment to traditional areas of study, while also supporting groundbreaking research and teaching in new and interdisciplinary approaches to literary studies. Each year, our stellar faculty of nationally and internationally renowned scholars offer a rich array of undergraduate and graduate courses which reflect the great breadth of literatures in English. Our undergraduate program offers students a historically informed and geographically diverse perspective on literature, while also developing writing and analytic skills. Students in our graduate program have the opportunity to engage a wide variety of critical and scholarly approaches to English literatures and cultures.

Department of English

There are 38 publications in this collection, published between 2013 and 2019.
Capstone Projects (5)

Changing the Unchangeable: The Transformative Power of Queerness in Magical Realism

Capstone Project submitted for English 184.6: Magical Realism (Professor Jenny Sharpe, Winter 2019).

Female Magic as a Source of Power in Rosario Ferré’s “Sleeping Beauty”

Capstone Project submitted for English 184.6: Magical Realism (Professor Jenny Sharpe, Winter 2019).

Subject and the City: Sex and the City’s Exposure of Feminine Pursuits in ‘Secret Sex’

Capstone Project submitted for English 184.3: Pornography and Politics of Sexual Representation (Professor Christopher Mott, Winter 2019).

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Departmental Honors Theses (33)

Arthur Symons and Decadent Lyric: Art in the Age of Urban Modernity

My honors thesis seeks to examine the redemptive potential of the lyric form in urban modernity. I specifically engage critically with the lyrics in the minor Decadent poet Arthur Symons’ second volume of poetry Silhouettes (1892). In my paper, I trace the influence of English art critic Walter Pater's influence upon Symons' poetry and life. The cultural period of Decadence coincides with a burgeoning modernity and the rise of bourgeois values in London. An increasingly capitalistic urban London consequently precipitated an erosion of beauty and romance; fin-de-siècle poets such as Symons were often disillusioned with the alienating circumstances of the modern metropolis. In my honors thesis, I explore the consequences of Symons' actualization of the Paterian aesthetic outlined in Studies in the History of the Renaissance. Symons adapts Paterian impressionism in his verses in order to introduce an aesthetic moment in degraded urban spaces. However, Symons' resuscitation of the romance and beauty befitting Pater's antiquated world of art galleries proves to be problematic in London's urban landscape.

Throughout the honors thesis, I discuss Symons' hopeful belief in the potential of the Paterian aesthetic and his attempts to aestheticize sleazy or quotidian scenes in fin-de-siècle London. I ultimately argue that it is the salvific qualities of the lyric form that allows him to perpetuate and freeze these fleeting aesthetic moments in a necessarily ephemeral modernity. As a result, my thesis primarily focuses on Symons' exploitation of lyric in his career and how the form allowed him to introduce beauty and romance in even the most degraded of urban spaces.

Deep Surfaces: The Production of Culture and the Culture of Production in Twentieth Century Hollywood

In this thesis I argue the idea of film as art rather than an industry that mass-produces culture is a recent concept. I show how culture studies theorists received film in the early 20th century, and how the director David Lynch transforms the medium of film into art in the late 20thcentury. I analyze the conflicting arguments made by Walter Benjamin in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, and those made by Theodore Adorno, and Max Horkheimer in Enlightenment as Mass Deception: The Culture Industry. I argue that Adorno and Horkheimer view film as a vehicle for the distribution of pre-packaged ideals and values, while Benjamin views film as a mechanism which brings to the public a better political understanding of their world. However, all theorists agree that film is a mechanism that can not be considered art in the way painting (for example) is considered art. This is because, they contend, film requires an absent-minded spectator. I demonstrate how Nathanael West’s novel, The Day of the Locust, and Joan Didion’s novel,Play it As it Lays, reflect the arguments of these theorists in their “antimyth” and “anti anti-myth” depictions of Hollywood. Finally, I use the film Mulholland Drive to reconcile both positions of film and to argue that film does require an aware spectator, and therefore is art.

Auratic Weapons, World War II, and Cultural Hegemony in The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien’sThe Lord of the Ringsis suspended between the medieval and the modern world. In this thesis, I attempt to explore what makes this enormously popularly novel so indelibly relatable to modern audiences. To begin, I look at weapons as the crux between the medieval and the modern elements of the text through the lens of Walter Benjamin’s concept of aura. By comparing the depiction of medieval weapons within theSong of Rolandto similar weapons inThe Lord of the Rings, I demonstrate that they differ in the level of aura they possess and their transferability between cultures. This difference indicates an impulse to preserve cultural distinctions. Within the context of the historical realities occurring while Tolkien was writing this novel, including World War II, fascism, and industrialization, the impulse to preserve cultural distinctions becomes a direct critique against cultural hegemony.

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