Fall 2010 AHAAA Courses

ENGL 316 Introduction to Major American Writers. Instr. Graham. 7:00-9:50pm. W.The goal in this course is to increase your appreciation and understanding of American writing and to gain some familiarity with selected MAJOR writers. We will focus on short fiction, including one or two shorter novels, and a tiny bit on poetry (probably Hughes), to contrast various genres. Our course begins with an investigation of the name of the course, i.e.. “Major”, “American” and “Writer.” Once we have collective agreement on these terms, we begin our weekly assigned readings. I reserve the right to give pop quizzes and short review tests, and everyone is expected to be an active contributor to the course. Each class session will devote 15 minutes to contemporary literature, so that you can develop your critical skills and to make literature something that captures your interest beyond class. Sharing is strongly encouraged during this period. What can you expect to learn:

  • to recognize the tools and language of literary discourse;
  • how to read carefully, closely, passionately, and between the lines;
  • how to write an effective response essay;

Requirements: class participation (including grades on pop quizzes), one major exam, one process journal (to map your progress through the course), final project (can be print, but digital is encouraged), presentation of final project. I’m old school—so attendance is required. I also strongly encourage attendance at outside events that I consider essential for enhancing your appreciation of American literatures. Various perspectives and points of view are encouraged, and tolerance of difference will be the rule of thumb.This course fulfills the English 322 or equivalent requirement for the English major.

ENGL 338 Intro to African American Literature. Instr. Tidwell. 7:00-9:50pm. M.Welcome to ENGL 338, an introduction to both written and oral traditions of African American writing, from its beginnings in 1746 to the present. This course was designed to fill a void created by enthusiastic students, eager to learn, but coming to upper-division Black literature classes with little or no history of the writers, their works, or the socio-political context that inspired the writing. Thus one of our primary tasks is to provide that background. Because the literature is so extensive, this course cannot possibly be comprehensive, only representative. For our thematic focus, I have chosen to explore one facet of an admittedly complicated literary experience: the continuing effort to define the relationship between vernacular and “formal” cultures. Beginning with oral literatures and continuing on into written forms, African American authors have shaped their creative works or have had them shaped by the traditions of the spoken word and written texts. Using this approach enables us to connect the nameless “author(s)” of the oral tales, ballads, blues, and sermons with the more recent Black expressive artists, who created rap and performance poetry. We are also able to trace the different ways in which oral literatures have been profoundly adapted by authors of written-down works. Although the course centers on literary analysis, it does not ignore the historical and political contexts spawning the texts. Instead, the importance of extra-literary background emerges from the discussion of textual analysis. By examining variations of this problem, we shall be able to think about and define how different writerly strategies coalesce into a literary tradition shared by nearly all African American writers. In so doing, we will accept the course’s ultimate challenge: to sharpen our critical reading, thinking, and writing This course fulfills the English 322 or equivalent requirement for the English major.

ENGL 498 Honors Proseminar: Literature of Social Justice. Instr. M. Caminero-Santangelo. 11:00-1:50 F. This class will examine literature, including first-person autobiographical accounts, journalistic accounts, and novels, which has addressed situations of political and economic oppression or repression with the potential function of enlisting readers in a project of social justice. This aim was quite clear in the antebellum slave narratives, as well as in novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin. More recently, it has also been clear in the Latin American genre known as “testimonio,” in which people wrote of their first-hand experiences with death squads, disappearances, and totalitarian dictatorships. This class will read selections from these and other examples (including an autobiography about Jim Crow-era segregation, a recent novel about a Sudanese refugee, and a non-fictional account of fourteen men who died in the Arizona desert in 2001 while trying to cross the border) as
a way of discussing questions about literature that overtly attempts to participate in a social justice project. We will address vexed debates surrounding cultural authority and authenticity, identity politics, attempts to represent the voice of the “oppressed,” revision of strategies used in slave narrative or in testimonio, and ethical and rhetorical appeals to an assumed readership. The main purpose of this class is to learn how to find a position within a theoretical issue or debate and to apply critical theoretical materials to literary texts in order to develop an effective argument. The class is meant to serve as
preparation for the Honors Thesis. Students will be asked to develop their own research topics within the topic of “social justice
literature,” to do research on their topics, to evaluate the research they find for its arguments and its helpfulness to their topic, and to write a research paper at the end of the course. As is the case for any literature class, we will of course be working on further developing skills associated with the study of literature: close reading, analysis, and the development and support of oral and written arguments. Since class conversations are a crucial way of developing, testing, and honing arguments, this course will be discussion-oriented rather than lecture-based; attendance and class participation will count towards the final grade.
This course fulfills a requirement for Honors designations for the English major and requires departmental approval for enrollment. Please contact Professor Mary Klayder, Honors Coordinator. This course also fulfills the English 500 or above
requirement for the English major.

ENGL 575/AMS 696 Literature of the South. Instr. Lester. 4:00-7:00 M.Bi-cam coursebased at the Lawrence campus and available through a web-camera at the Edwards campus. Called the Jim Crow or the segregated South, this period has been famously described as “worse than slavery” because of the passage of Jim Crow laws to withhold from black southerners such basic civil rights as voting, educational opportunity, health care, and mobility and of the regular use of terrorism to enforce this brutal and unjust regime. The goal of this course will be to develop and propose–through the study, discussion, and analysis of a variety of cultural texts–an empowering response to the deeply conflicted experiences and legacies of the peoples of the segregated South. We will read diaries, novels, essays, and memoirs to examine the construction of life in the segregated South from a variety of perspectives: then and now, male and female, children and adults, black and white, Jewish and Christian, urban and rural, cosmopolitan and provincial, rich and poor, bitter and nostalgic. Course Texts: The Memphis Diary of Ida B. Wells, edited with scholarly dedication by Miriam DeCosta-Willis and published in 1995, William Faulkner’s 1931 novel Sanctuary, George Washington Lee’s novel River George(1937), William Alexander Percy’s 1941 Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter’s Son, Richard Wright’s memoir Black Boy (1945), Lillian Smith’s 1949 Killers of the Dream, and Eudora Welty’s comic novella Ponder Heart (1954). Course Requirements: Students will present their research on one of these figures throughout the semester and complete a final paper or project that they may submit for presentation at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in spring 2011. This course fulfills the English 322 or equivalent requirement for the English major.

ENGL 674 South African Fiction, Politics, and Culture. Instr. B. Caminero-Santangelo. 11:00-12:15 MW. This course introduces students to South African fiction from the beginning of apartheid (1948) to the present, as well as to critical theoretical issues concerning language, literature, literacy, race, ethnicity, and power generated by the country’s often violent history. Towards these goals, we will read and explore the relationships among novels, short stories, theoretical and critical essays, and political manifestoes. We will also be drawing on a short, excellent history of South Africa which will help us better understand the historical trajectory leading up to 1948 as well as the apartheid era itself. During reading and discussion, students may well find interesting parallels with American history and literature. Texts: J.M. Coetzee Disgrace, Nadine Gordimer The Conservationist, Alex La Guma Fog at the Season’s End, Sindiwe MagonaMother to Mother, Zakes Mda Heart of Redness, Niq Mhlongo Dog Eat Dog, Alan PatonCry, The Beloved Country, Robert Ross A Concise History of South Africa. This course fulfills the English 314 or equivalent requirement for the English major. It also fulfills the non-Western culture course requirement.

ENGL 690 Topics in American Literature: The Transnational Experience in American Literature: 1880-1920 and 1990-2010. Instr. S. Harris. 7:00-9:50pm T. Please Note: This course is appropriate for both advanced undergraduates and graduate students. M.F.A. students may find it particularly attractive, as much of the course will be looking at recently published fiction within writerly and market frameworks. The focus on immigrants to the U.S. and the attention to gender issues should also make the course of interest to students in American Studies and in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

The course will use stories, novels, memoirs, and essays to examine the construction of the transnational experience in U. S. immigrant writing. We will focus on two periods. The first third or more of the course, covering works written between 1880-1920, will begin with nonfiction by writers such as Randolph Bourne, whose essay “Trans-National America” articulated many of the issues that have haunted U.S. immigration debates from the early 20th century to the present, and José Martí, whose essay “Nuestra América” established the literary presence of Latin America within U.S. writing. The first section will also look at the literary forms employed by turn-into-the-20th-century fiction writers to communicate, or “translate,” their experiences to Anglo-American readers (for example, Mary Antin framed her autobiography The Promised Land by the Biblical story of Exodus). In this first section we will read classic memoirs and fictions by writers such as Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yeszierka, and Sui Sin Far.

The second two-thirds of the semester will jump to the 21st century, working with a broad array of materials such as memoirs by Tara Bahrampour (To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America), Jamaica Kincaid (Lucy–Antigua), Randa Jarrar (A Map of Home–Palestine), and Bich Minh Nguen (Stealing Boddha’s Dinner–Vietnam), and fiction such as Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake (India), Sandra Cisneros’s Caramelo (Mexico), and Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner (Afghanistan).

In addition to discussing the literary construction of these narratives, we will also use a variety of other lenses, including their historical and social contexts, and gender and racial issues. We will also discuss the impact of technology, especially communications technologies, on the experience of crossing borders. We will supplement our primary readings with historical and theoretical articles written across several disciplinary areas, such as selections from Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands/ La Frontera . Throughout, our interest will be to explore the differences between “assimilationist,” “transnational,” and “diasporic” models of immigrant experience and the ways that these models are displayed in the creative output of immigrants/transnationals themselves. (n.b.: I have not yet turned in my booklists, so I am open to suggestions and preferences until mid-March.) This course fulfills the English 322 or equivalent requirement for the English major.

ENGL 774 Ellison & Baraka: Jazz, Politics & Race. Instr. W Harris. 2:30-3:45 TR.Central to these great African-American writers are the themes of jazz, politics and race. Both Ellison and Baraka regard black music—spirituals, blues, gospel, and jazz—as the core of African-American culture. In short, to understand the music is to understand the culture; moreover, jazz, the most sophisticated of black musical forms, serves as a model for these authors’ literary innovations. Unlike much of American literature, politics is front and center in their oeuvres, and even though they reach different conclusions, radical politics is confronted by both. Furthermore, race hovers over their texts: what is the meaning of blackness in America and what is blackness? Since I argue that Ellison and Baraka are cultural theorists, we will read their nonfiction as well as their creative work. In essence, these authors, from different generations, battle over the very nature of the African-American tradition. We will read Ellison’s Invisible Man, The Collected Essays,Flying Home and Other Stories and Juneteenth and Baraka’s The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader, Tales of the Out & the Gone and Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music. Some of the critics we will utilize are Arnold Rampersad, Kimberly Benston, Nathaniel Mackey, Fred Moten, Sherry Brennan, Aldon Nielsen, Meta DuEwa Jones, John Gennari, Robert O’Meally and Jerry Watts. The student will write one long paper, which will have two incarnations: one as a short paper in the middle of the term and as a long one at the end and will give a report in class on some aspect of our authors.

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