Introductory courses addressing the representation and construction of "race" in literature and/or the contributions of ethnically diverse writers to the American culture. Focus and readings vary by instructor. May be repeated for credit with different content.
Sean Witters ()
Dates: 7/14 to 8/08
ENGS57: Race and Ethnicity in American Literature and Culture This is a course on literature and culture in modern and postmodern America. Our approach to this field is through the subjects of race and ethnicity. I think of this term ?subject? in both the sense of a focus of study and as referring to a person under the authority of, or constituted by, an ideology. In this sense, we will be studying literary and cultural works as a means of glimpsing our own relationship to the ? subjects? of race and ethnicity, and thus, understanding our own subjectivity--with special attention to what is invisible, unspoken, and assumed. I will argue that race, as it is conceived and practiced in American culture, is a fiction. What I mean by this is that, ?race? is not a material and essential fact, but rather a story. When I say, ?race is a fiction,? I am challenging our assumptions about its permanence and coherence as a set of claims about humanity and human depth. As a scholar of literature, I do not believe that fiction and stories are trivial. We encounter the world through language and live in a world of stories. We read the world through these stories. They define us. In this sense, race is a fiction, but it is also very real. Hence, we can see, from the start, that we are confronted with a fundamental irony embedded in our culture and its effort to describe itself. As scholars of literature and culture, we will use this sense of irony to explore a broad range of material. We will read novels, short stories, essays, ranging from Nella Larsen?s novella, Passing, to the short fiction of Junot Diaz to Barack Obama?s ?A More Perfect Union? speech; we will watch films and listen to music, including American History X and Public Enemy?s Fear of a Black Planet; and we will read selections of significant critical theory and commentary. We will write about and discuss this material in ways that explore the relationship between the personal and the critical in order to articulate and understand our own roles in this world of stories.
-Online discussion board and reading question responses -"midterm" exam -Final Paper
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