Dr. Jelena Šesnić Literary seminar: Contemporary U.S. Ethnic Literatures (1st/2nd Year) (A, 20th c.)
Semester: 1 or 3
Mon 11-12:30 (A-123)
Wed 13:15- 14 (A-105)
Office hours: Mon, 12:30-1:30 pm; Thu, 11-12 am
Course description: The course examines a very innovative and dynamic section of contemporary US literary/cultural production—literature produced by and about different established and newly arisen “ethnic communities” with special focus on the 1965 immigration reform, post-Cold War and post-9/11 developments, respectively. We shall address new modes of representing the ways of belonging, community and citizenship in relation to representative ethnic groups (African American, Native American), while in the second part of the course the attention will be given to the ways new cultural productions (both visual and textual) address concerns felt by more recent or recently more visible ethnic and racial formations (Asian American, Latino/ Chicano, Arab American, etc.). These textual and visual artefacts make evident some continuing concerns with nation- and community-building in the States, while they depict a new class of national subjects, a new generation of Americans.
Requirements: Regular attendance and class participation; in-class and home assignments; seminar paper (10-12 double-spaced pp.); continuous assessment (midterm and final test).
Reading / viewing list
Gish Jen: Mona in the Promised Land (1996)
Mohja Kahf: Girl in the Tangerine Scarf (2006)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Americanah (2013)
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Between the World and Me (2015)
Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies (1999; selection)
Junot Díaz: This Is How You Lose Her (2012; selection)
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989); Smoke Signals (Chris Eyre, 1998); Lone Star (John Sayles, 1996)
Readings by weeks and sections (alterations possible)
Part I: An overview
Introductory remarks: approaching ethnicity; interdisciplinarity in the study of ethnicity; race theory and ethnicity school; “racial formations” (Omi and Winant); consent and descent (Sollors); symbolic (voluntary) and ascribed (compulsory) ethnicity; American ethnic/racial pentagon; fantasmatic aspects of racial identifications; long-term ethnic groups/racial formations: African Americans, American Indians
*Entries from Keywords: “Citizenship”, “Ethnicity”, “Nation”, “Naturalization”, “Race”
Week 1: Introduction and key concepts
Week 2: African-American perspective: Do the Right Thing
Week 3: African-American perspective: Coates, Between the World and Me
Week 4: Amerindians and postmodernism: Smoke Signals
Part II: An overview
New racial formations; Chicanos and Latinos/Hispanics; Asian Americans; Arab Americans; post-1965 immigration and globalization; new paradigms of reading ethnic texts: diasporic and borderlands models
*The following entries from Keywords: “Border”, “Diaspora”, “Immigration”, “Mestizo”
Week 5: Chicanos as a sub-nation: Lone Star
Week 1 Latino diaspora: Junot Díaz: selection of short stories
Week 2: Midterm.
Week 3: Asian Americans as perpetual others: Lahiri: selection of short stories
Week 4: Asian Americans: Gish Jen: Mona in the Promised Land
Week 1: Gish Jen, cont.
Week 2: Post 9/11 and Arab Americans: Mohja Kahf: Girl in the Tangerine Scarf
Week 3: Kahf, cont.
Week 1: New African diaspora: Adichie: Americanah
Week 2: Adichie; cont.
Week 3: Evaluation. Final test.
– Appiah, Anthony. The Ethics of Identity. New Haven: Princeton UP, 2007. (selection)
– Burgett, Bruce, and Glenn Hendler, eds. Keywords for American Cultural Studies. New York and London: NYUP, 2007.
– (Entries: “Border”, “Citizenship”, “Diaspora”, “Ethnicity”, “Immigration”, “Mestizo”, “Nation”, “Naturalization”, “Race”)
– Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant. Racial Formations in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s. 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge, 1994. 53-76.
– Sollors, Werner. Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture. New York and Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986. 20-39.
Additional material for each section will be provided in digital form on the Omega platform.