Thurs. 1 - 3:45 p.m.
This course is an
introduction to twentieth-century American ethnic literature and a critical
examination of how literary canons and sub-canons are constructed. We will
read Jewish up-from-the-ghetto narratives from the early twentieth century,
the literature of the Harlem Renaissance, popular and proletarian literature
from the 1920s and 1930s, and contemporary novels by ethnic writers. In
what ways do the gender, ethnicity, class and sexuality of an author
influence the writing and reading of texts? How are “American” literary
traditions created and maintained? What is at stake in the creation of
alternative literary traditions—African-American, Asian-American, Native
American, Hispanic, white ethnic traditions? What is the role of mainstream
or white patronage in the creation and distribution of this literature? In
what ways do class, gender and sexuality inflect these traditions? What
role does religion play in these texts? What is the place of the “old
country?” Do national literary traditions do justice to the writings
of ethnic authors? What are the links between these authors and the labor
movement, middle-brow institutions like the Book-of-the-Month Club, film,
television, mass culture, and educational institutions?
Claude McKay, Home
to Harlem (1928)
Anzia Yezierska, Breadgivers (1925)
Henry Roth, Call It
Pietro di Donato,
Christ in Concrete (1939)
Ishmael Reed, Mumbo
Maxine Hong Kingston,
Woman Warrior (1975)
Joy Kogawa, Obasan
Oscar Hijuelos, The
Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989)
Julia Alvarez, In
the Name of Salome (2000)
Reservation Blues (1996)
|Khaled Hosseini, Kite Runner (2003)
|Wener Sollors, Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and
Descent in American Culture (1986)
|selected readings on e-reserve at
All texts available at Off-Campus Books or the UTD bookstore
Course Requirements / Evaluation Criteria:
preparation and participation
(including 1-page handout of 3-5 questions for discussion)
*prospectus (3 pages) and bibliography due Thurs. 22 Mar.
*final paper (20 pages) due
Thurs. 26 April
1. Students will
be able to describe the work of American ethnic writers and the
major issues and questions in literary scholarship about them.
2. Students will
be able to analyze and evaluate literary and literary historical
arguments made by scholars in the field.
3. Students will
research and write a literary or literary historical argument about
some aspect of American ethnic writing.
|Thur. 11 Jan.
||Organizational / Intro. to
Gates, “’Authenticity,’ or the Lesson of Little Tree” (handout)
|Thurs. 18 Jan.
Race/Ethnicity and Literary Traditions
Kwame Anthony Appiah, chap. 20, “Race” in
Critical Terms for Literary Study, 2d ed., Ed Frank
Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995):
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “Editor’s Introduction:
Writing ‘Race’ and the Difference It Makes,” “Race,” Writing and
Difference, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Chicago: U of Chicago P,
1986): 1-20 (e-reserve).
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “The blackness of
blackness: a critique of the sign and the Signifying Monkey,” Black
Literature and Literary Theory (New York: Routledge, 1984): 285-321
Werner Sollors, chap. 1, “Beyond Ethnicity,” and
chap. 2, “Typology and Ethnogenesis,” in Beyond Ethnicity: Consent
and Descent in American Culture (New York: Oxford UP, 1986): 1-65.
Matthew Frye Jacobson, “Introduction: The
Fabrication of Race” (1-12) and “Epilogue: Ethnic Revival and the
Denial of White Privilege” (274-80) in Whiteness of a Different
Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge:
Harvard UP, 1998) (e-reserve).
Michael Omi & Howard Winant, “Toward a Racial
Formation Perspective” and chap. 4, “Racial Formation,” Racial
Formation in the United States from the 1960s to the 1990s, 2d.ed.
(New York: Routledge, 1994): 48-76 (e-reserve).
|Thurs. 25 Jan.
McKay, Home to Harlem
David Levering Lewis, chap. 4, “Enter the New
Negro,” When Harlem Was in Vogue (New York: Oxford UP, 1981):
|Thur. 1 Feb.
Deborah E. McDowell, “Introduction,” Quicksand and Passing,
by Nella Larsen (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 1986): ix-xxxvii.
|Thurs. 8 Feb.
Dearborn, “Anzia Yezierska and the Making of an Ethnic American Self,”
The Invention of Ethnicity, ed. Werner Sollors (New York: Oxford
UP, 1989): 105-23 (e-reserve).
|Thurs. 15 Feb.
Roth, Call It Sleep
Thomas Ferraro, chap. 3, “Oedipus in
Brownsville: Parricide, a House Divided, and Call It Sleep,” Ethnic
Passages: Literary Immigrants in Twentieth-Century America
(Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1993): 87-122 (e-reserve).
|Thurs. 22 Feb.
Donato, Christ in Concrete
Janice Radway, chap. 8, “Reading for
a New Class: The Judges, the Practical Logic of Book Selection, and the
Question of Middlebrow Style,” A Feeling For Books: The
Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle-Class Desire
(Chapel Hill: U of NC P, 1997): 261-304 (e-reserve).
|Thurs. 1 Mar.
Reed, Mumbo Jumbo
Melani McAlister, chap. 2, “The Middle East in
African American Cultural Politics, 1955-1972,” Epic Encounters:
Culture, Media and U.S. Interests in the Middle East since 1945
(Berkeley: U of California P, 2005): 84-124 (e-reserve).
|Thurs. 8 Mar.
|| SPRING BREAK
|Thurs. 15 Mar.
Kingston, Woman Warrior
King-Kok Cheung, “The Woman Warrior
versus The Chinaman Pacific: Must a Chinese American Critic Choose
between Feminism and Heroism?” in Conflicts in Feminism , ed.
Marianne Hirsch & Evelyn Fox Keller (New York: Routledge, 1990): 234-51
|Thurs. 22 Mar.
||Prospectus and Bibliography
Kandice Chuh, chap. 2, “Nikkei
Internment: Determined Identities/Undecidable Meanings,” in Imagine
Otherwise: On Asian Americanist Critique (Durham: Duke UP, 2003):
|Thurs. 29 Mar.
Hijuelos, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
Sigmund Freud, Mourning and
Melancholia (1917) in The Standard Edition of the Complete
Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. XIV (1914-1916), (London:
Hogarth, 1957): 243- 258 (e-reserve).
|Thurs. 5 Apr.
Alvarez, In the Name of Salome
Gloria Anzaldua, “Preface,” (1-2)
and chap. 2, “Movimientos de rebeldia y las culturas que traicionan”
(15-23) in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (San
Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987) (e-reserve).
|Thurs. 12 Apr.
|| Alexie, Reservation Blues
Michael M. J. Fischer, “Ethnicity
and the Post-Modern Arts of Memory,” Writing Culture: The Poetics
and Politics of Ethnography, ed. James Clifford and George E. Marcus
(Berkeley: U of California P, 1986): 194-233 (e-reserve).
|Thurs. 19 Apr.
Hosseini, Kite Runner
Edward Said, “Introduction,” Orientalism
(New York: Vintage, 1978): 1-31 (e-reserve).
|Thurs. 26 Apr.
||Final Papers due in my office by 4:00 p.m.