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Secrets, Lies, and Identity

“Honesty is the best policy.” Or so we are often told. Certainly, we can see the wisdom of these words, and yet are we always honest? Are there situations that call for something less than the full truth? Are there parts of ourselves that we keep to ourselves? What about our secrets? How do they define us?

These and other questions will guide us on our all-too-brief survey of how secrets and lies affect one’s identity, and how writers and thinkers through the ages have dealt with this issue. Through careful examination of texts and focused work on the writing process, we will explore these issues while improving our ability to focus, organize, develop, and articulate our ideas.

Catalog Description

Prerequisite: English Placement Test or completion of ENGL 096. Reading and writing to develop and communicate ideas. Instruction in basic strategies for planning, composing, and revising college writing. Use of authorities, examples, arguments and facts. Graded A,B,C/NC. GE A1

Required Book List

Moses Hadas, Greek Drama.

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Joseph Williams, Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace

Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, They Say, I Say

Other required readings will be distributed in class or made available online.

Optional: For anyone interested, I will be happy to recommend a writer’s handbook, and many fine ones are available in the campus bookstore. Also, if you do not already own a good single-language dictionary, I strongly encourage you to purchase one.


Tutoring is available at the CSULA University Writing Center, located in the JFK Library, Palmer Wing 2097. If you expect your writing to improve this quarter, consider going early in the quarter and often.

5151 State University Drive . Los Angeles . CA 90032 . (323) 343-3000
© 2008 Trustees of the California State University

Last Update: 9/27/2008