English 262 - Spring, 2019

American Lit after 1914

Class Information

Instructor: Jerng, Mark
CRN: 92845
Time: M 12:10-3:00
Location: 120 Voorhies
Breadth: Later American
Focus: Genre



    Speculating Otherwise: Science Fictional and Fantasy World-Building in Critical Race and Ethnic Literary Studies

    This seminar explores the ways in which speculating through race and gender have been a powerful means to construct, stabilize, and circumscribe understandings of social reproduction, labor, value, and history. At the same time, it looks to speculative writers for the potential to reconfigure capitalist social relations, cultural continuities, and historical consciousness. We will begin by thinking through speculation as both an imaginative and economic mode, as well as a mode of legal thinking. Alongside these understandings, we will analyze the “visionary fiction” (Walidah Imarisha) of writers who speculate otherwise. If one of the ways in which racialized and gendered inequalities are reproduced is through “capitalism’s capacity to create entirely new categories of human experience stripped bare of the historical consciousness embedded in culture” (C Robinson), if the production of social separateness is a precondition for creating geographies of extraction and accumulation, then how might speculative fictions understand forms of freedom not monopolized by liberal forms of contract, property, and personhood? What alternate histories and futurities might be projected and practiced? We will read works by Derrick Bell, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Grace Dillon, W.E.B. DuBois, Jewelle Gomez, Cheryl Harris, N.K. Jemisin, Robin Kelley, Larissa Lai, Ursula K LeGuin, Hortense Spillers, among others.

    *Primary Texts below are listed in the order in which we will read them. I have not ordered these books through the UC Davis bookstore so please purchase copies on your own.


    Seminar Presentation
    20 page research paper
    Bibliographical Essay


    Wild Seed, Octavia Butler
    Salt Fish Girl, Larissa Lai
    Return to Neveryon, Samuel Delany
    Victor Lavalle's Destroyer, Victor Lavalle
    The Fifth Season, N.K Jemisin