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Open to Degree and CDE students; Cross listed with ENGS 057 D; Total combined enrollment = 40
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, including works by James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, and Leslie Marmon Silko, 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.
-Regular participation in contributions in various configurations (small groups, class discussions...). -Consistent reading -Periodic writing assignments
-Essay-based, take-home midterm exam (to be designed in collaboration with the class) -Final Paper -Misc. short writing projects -Participation
Lafayette Hall L300 (View Campus Map)
to on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
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