ENGL 215
Imagining Immigrants Spring 2010
Division I Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

The goal in this course is two-fold: to become more responsive readers of literature and more empathetic readers of cultural differences. As Othello and Antony and Cleopatra demonstrate, the conflicts, anxieties, and vulnerabilities faced by today’s immigrants have a long history. Moving physically from one culture to another but remaining imaginatively torn between their adopted country and their country of origin, feeling at times like a stranger to both, immigrants face questions that concern us all in our increasingly global society, questions of identity, liminality, alienation, empathy, and language. Bombarded by a language that is not their own, immigrants are constantly thinking about what words mean both literally and symbolically. Why this word rather than another? How do humor and irony work in a foreign culture? How do writers reconcile the pressures of the present moment with the stream of memories from the old country? How is one person’s point of view, or one society’s point of view, different from another’s? How can metaphors convey the experience of constantly seeing an object, or an entire world, in terms of another? In addition to Shakespeare’s Othello and Antony and Cleopatra, we will study theoretical essays, short stories, novels, poems, and imaginative non-fiction such as Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin, Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Cristina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban, Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies, W. G. Sebald’s The Emigrants, Li-Young Lee’s Rose, and films such as Dirty Pretty Things, The Emigrants, or The Godfather Part 2. This course explores differences and similarities between cultures and societies in the modern world, and between the modern world and the past.
The Class: Format: seminar/discussion
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3618
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: four short formal essays plus informal journal entries
Prerequisites: a 100-level English course
Enrollment Preferences: first-year students who have taken a prior English course, or who have a 5 on the AP exam, sophomores, and English majors who have yet to take a Gateway
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
Attributes: AMST Arts in Context Electives
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses

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