English 179 - Fall, 2014

Topics in Comparative American Literatures

Class Information

Instructor: Martín, Desirée
Time: TR 10:30-11:50
Location: 207 Olson


    "American/Ethnic Studies"

    This class will examine a series of literary and visual texts that may be classified as works of “ethnic studies.” These texts certainly focus on race and ethnicity, among many other things. But is a focus on race and ethnicity the only – or even the primary – impetus of ethnic studies in the U.S.? How might we interpret these texts in terms of the production and reception of identity and disidentification in general? In what ways do these texts dismantle identity even as they also construct and represent it? Some major themes we will consider include language, nationalism, translation, gender, sexuality, race, regionalism, transnationalism, urban cultures, environmental justice, human rights, science fiction, violence, migration and memory.

    In addition to the literary texts, we will study some film and/or performance pieces. While we will be viewing clips in class, you will be responsible for viewing the full films/performances on your own. More details will follow.


    Borshay, Deann. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee [Film, 2010]
    Butler, Octavia. Parable of the Sower
    D�az, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
    D�az, Junot. "Monstro"
    Lee, Chang-Rae. Native Speaker
    Ok�n, Yoshua. Octopus 2011 [Short performance film, 2011]
    Oseki, Ruth. My Year of Meats
    Rivera, Alex. Sleep Dealer [Film, 2008]
    Smith, Anna Deavere. Twilight, Los Angeles 1992 [plus filmed performance]
    Tobar, H�ctor. The Tattooed Soldier


    One short response paper (4 pages)
    Two 5-7 page essays
    Final Exam
    Class participation


    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
    Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, Anna Deavere Smith
    My Year of Meats, Ruth Oseki
    Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
    Native Speaker, Chang-rae Lee
    My Year of Meats, Ruth Oseki
    The Tattooed Soldier, Hector Tobar