The following Freshman Seminars will all include some consideration of this year's work, There There, or the themes it evokes. As you can see, the instructors approach the theme from very different disciplinary standpoints.

Fall 2019

American Studies 24: On "There There" and Oakland, California

Richard Hutson | Schedule →

Tommy Orange’s novel “There There” depicts a relatively small group of contemporary Native Americans living in Oakland, California. The novel is complex, depicting characters of all ages. I would like to engage us in a careful, close reading of the novel, and try to expand our knowledge to think about the city of Oakland also. As one of the characters says, “’I feel bad sometimes even saying I’m Native. Mostly I just feel like I’m from Oakland.’” We can look at some other stories about Oakland, such as the recent film “Blindspotting.” Class discussion will be expected. A short paper, 3-5 pages, will be due during finals week.

English 24, section 2: Here Here in Tommy Orange's There There

Hertha Sweet Wong | Schedule →

Tommy Orange’s story cycle, There There, depicts the lives of contemporary indigenous people in Oakland, California. Shaped by transgenerational trauma, Orange’s characters nonetheless survive. Countering romantic stereotypes of the Noble Red Man, children of Nature, or the ecological Indian, these Oakland natives are the urban indigenous. There There counters Gertrude Stein’s famous pronouncement that in Oakland “there is no there there.” A character itself, Oakland is described, mapped, and traversed. In this seminar, we will practice close reading, review indigenous history (particularly, how the Indian Relocation Act of 1956 encouraged native people to move from reservations to urban centers), and place There There in the context of 20th- and 21st-century Native American literature. Finally, we will go on a field trip or two to Oakland to walk in the steps of Orange’s characters and navigate their urban interactions.