2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

Resistance and Social Change: Critical Readings in African American and Latina/o Literature


Spring 2012 quarter

Elizabeth Williamson English literature, theater studies , Grace Huerta qualitative research methods, policy studies
Fields of Study
African American studies, American studies, gender and women's studies, literature and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
literary studies, community organizing, and writing/journalism.

Why is it important to consider African American and Latina/o literature in the 21st century? What is the value of studying works based on the identity of their authors, and how can we account for the lasting effects of history, cultural loss, and oppression as represented in these texts without succumbing to the limitations of a "politically correct" politics of identity? How can these authors both fuel and complicate our struggle against all the various forms of oppression we face today?

In this program, we address such questions by examining the treatment of hegemony, identity, and gender in the works of authors such as Julia Alvarez, Gayl Jones, Christina Garcia, and Nella Larsen. Together, these authors present culture through the conditions of power relations and its historic aftermath: colonization, slavery, and marginalization. We will focus on writers whose works cross both cultural and national borders and forcefully contest the identity politics of race, gender, class and language.

Throughout this quarter, we will also examine social and political change, particularly noting how activism is conceptualized in the literature we read. In addition, we will consider the important role of anticolonial aesthetics by developing our own skills in literary analysis through experimental critical writing. It is through such writing that we will generate even more questions to consider, for example: how do other literary genres and media challenge conventional notions of national belonging for African Americans? How are the cultural borders between the United States and Mexico, or the United States and Cuba, more fluid than the existing political borders? We will strive to get beyond politicized literary analysis, moving instead toward collective cultural reflection and understanding.

Our shared concepts and questions will be explored through seminars, workshops, group discussions, and multi-media presentations. Students will co-facilitate seminars and complete critical writing activities, including the use of peer feedback.

Academic Website
Online Learning
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Program Revisions

Date Revision
January 3rd, 2012 New program added.