The most exciting and forward-thinking writing in the English language today is being done by formally experimental writers of color. Their texts push the boundaries of aesthetic form while simultaneously engaging questions of culture, politics, and history. This course argues not only for the centrality of minority experimental work to English literature but a fundamental rethinking of English literary studies so as to confront the field’s imbedded assumptions about race, a legacy of British colonialism, and to make the idea of the aesthetic more open to ideas generated in critical race studies, diaspora studies, American studies, and those fields that grapple more directly with history and politics.
In the critical realms of English, work by minority writers is often relegated to its own segregated spaces, categorized by ethnic identity, or tokenized as “add-ons” to more “central” or “fundamental” categories of literature (such as Modernism, poetics, the avant-garde). Recent work by Asian American, African American, Native American and Latino/a writers challenges our assumptions and preconceptions about ethnic literature, American literature, English literature, formal experimentation, genre categorization, and so on. This writing forces us to examine our received notions about literature, literary methodologies, and race. Close reading need not be opposed to critical analyses of ideologies. Formal experimentation need not be opposed to racial identity nor should it be divorced from history and politics, even, or especially, a radical politics.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
one shorter paper (7-8 pp.), one final paper or creative project (10-12 pp.), two short response papers, a presentation, and participation
none but those with some previous experience with literature and/or literary analysis might be helpful
American Studies majors
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST Arts in Context Electives
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
AMST 400-level Senior Seminars
LATS Comparative Race + Ethnic Studies Electives