ENGL 134
Contemporary US Literature, Postcolonial Studies, & The Politics of Culture in the Age of Trump Fall 2019
Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
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Class Details

In this course we will read a handful of contemporary US novels and explore whether postcolonial theory can provide a critical vocabulary that helps situate the “others” of contemporary nationalism in an intersectional framework. From the enduring legacies and ongoing violence of settler colonial genocide and transatlantic slavery to the xenophobic disregard for human life during the war in Iraq and the current war on immigrants, we will consider how these novels expose the deeply engrained forms of racism, fear, privilege, and paranoia that subtend dominant discourses of US nationalism in the age of Trump. Over the course of the semester, we will explore the power and allure of this exclusionary nationalism as well as how it is constructed and reproduced through cultural fantasies such as American innocence and exceptionalism, the American dream, and the American frontier. We will pay equally close attention to the ways that the works we read radically unsettle the conceptual borders of geographical space and historical time that regulate who is included and who is excluded from — to use Benedict Anderson’s influential formulation — the “imagined political community” of the United States. Readings will include There There by Tommy Orange, Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and The Book of Collateral Damage by Sinan Antoon.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 2034
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: at least 20 pages of writing; GLOW posts; class participation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first-year students who do not have a 5 on the AP and/or have not previously taken a 100-level English class
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
WS Notes: Students will do at least 20 pages of writing including three papers, a revision of one paper with editorial changes explained in endnotes, as well as two editorial responses to the work of another student. In addition to two in-class workshops, significant class time will be spent covering strategies for effective and persuasive academic writing. Throughout the semester, students will receive written feedback from the instructor with specific suggestions for revision and improvement.
DPE Notes: In course readings, written assignments, and seminar discussions, students will address contemporary debates related to US nationalism and its "others." During the semester students will consider the disturbing normalization of white nationalism as well as the imperatives of thinking about collectivity and self/other relations beyond assimilative understandings of diversity and multiculturalism.

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