Contemporary U.S. Women of Color
(Re) rac-/class-/gender-/sex-ing Identities
|Instructor: Nick Melczarek|
Office: 4303-D Turlington
Office hours: MW 6th Period & by appt.
Department 'phone: 392-0777
Office 'phone: 392-6650 ext.295
(remember -- no attachments)
||MWF Per 6 (10:40-11:30 a.m.) |
Before you go any further, know that this syllabus is subject to
and will change according to the needs of the course.
AML 2410.1631 introduces students to issues of sex(uality),
race/ethnicity, class, and (ac)culturation explored in fiction and
criticism by contemporary "women of color" in the U.S. The course
continually requires students to question and investigate constructions
of subjecthood and objecthood for women, treating the U.S. itself as a
multilayered episteme. Through combined readings of critical texts and
novels, students are immersed in not only contemporary defining tropes
for/of women, but also in critical methodology and praxis. Students are
encouraged to challenge both their own knowledge and thinking, as well
as their social environment, through experiment with literary and
We will organize our readings and writing around a few central
tenets: Toni Morrison and bell hooks' inquiries into the necessity of
"blackness" for construction of "whiteness"; Mary Louise Pratt's
concept of the "contact zone"; Adrienne Rich and others'
conceptualization of "lesbian"; Gloria Anzaldua's vision of the mestiza.
Each of these approaches (and others) will help us interrogate the
construction of identity (for both observer and observed) as well as
problematize what it means to be a citizen of the U.S. for women of
AML 2410.1631 entails copious reading of historical, critical, and
literary material. Students are required to cover historical background
to establish contexts; literary texts as reflections of and reactions to
those contexts; and critical explorations/responses to aid students' own
cultural and literary critiques. There will be 3 papers of 5-8 pp. each,
reading quizzes/ short work, and a creative project.
Texts and Materials
Kingston's The Woman Warrior , Morrison's Playing in the
Dark and Beloved , Mukherjee's Jasmine , Erdrich's
Love Medicine , Cisneros' House on Mango Street ,
Sinlair's Coffee Will Make You Black and a course packet(maybe two?)
(all available at Wild Iris Books on University Avenue)
various materials on Webluis reserve
various handouts on grammar, extra readings, etc., as necessary (I provide these)
an e-mail account for correspondence with myself and class peers
any college-level handbook (for grammar, MLA format, etc. -- pends my approval)
(strongly suggested) an affordable recent COLLEGE dictionary no "happy family" dictionaries!)
(strongly suggested) an affordable recent thesaurus
3 papers of 5-8 pp. each (positively no less than 5 pp!), 60% (20% each)
1 creative project, 20%
quizzes, short work, 10%
class participation 10%
(See Course Policies sheet for grading scales.)
Each of the three papers is intended to reflect students' abilities
to engage both literary and critical texts in responsible and creative
ways, through textual evidence and extra-textual critique. Papers will
be discussed in class and individual conferences, and drafts encouraged
(all previous drafts must accompany rewritten papers). As befits the
2000 level, papers must be scrupulously proofread. More than two
spelling or simple grammatical mistakes make a paper unacceptable.
I presume (dangerously) that students have by this time successfully
passed ENC 1101 or an equivalent, and are therefore familiar with the
basic requirements of clear writing; I also presume that students
already possess a college-level writing guide and dictionary -- and know
how to use them.
The creative project will be discussed at length in class. It
comprises creative textual and visual explorations of the issues found
in the novels and critical readings. Each project requires a visual
component as well as a written explanatory accompaniment. While I intend
the projects to be fun explorations of the course's subject matter, I
also expect them to be seriously researched and executed -- any sloppy or
obviously thrown-together jobs are unacceptable.
"Pop" quizzes -- as necessary to ensure that students do indeed read
and try to understand the assigned material. Short work (such as brief
explications de texte, analyses, "journal entries," etc.), whether in-
or out-of-class, will also be used and figured into your grade.
(Tentative) Course Schedule
Week 1 (23-27 Aug) course introduction;
concepts/framework; Sollors, hooks, Pratt (handouts)
Week 2 (30 Aug - 3 Sept) Morrison Playing in the
Dark ; "Immigration and Diaspora" (packet)
Week 3 (6-10 Sept) off Monday 6 for Labor
Day; "General Introduction -- A Woman-Centered Perspective"
(packet); "The World of Our Grandmothers" (packet); Kingston The Woman
Week 4 (13-17 Sept) The Woman Warrior cont'; "The Mother
as Other" (packet); "Nissei Women and Resettlement During WWII" (packet)
Week 5 (20-24 Sept) Yamamoto "Seventeen Syllables" and
"Yoneko's Earthquake" (packet); "Interview with Hisaye
Yamamoto" (packet); "Transplanted Discourse in Hisaye Yamamoto's
'Seventeen Syllables'" (packet); "Asian American Lesbians" (?)
Week 6 (27 Sept - 1 Oct) "Matchmaking in the Classifieds"
(packet); Mukherjee Jasmine ; PAPER 1 DUE
Week 7 (4-8 Oct) Jasmine cont'; "How the West Was Really
Won" & "Who Is Your Mother?" (packet); Allen "Where I Come From Is Like
This" (packet); Erdrich Love Medicine
Week 8 (11-15 Oct) Love Medicine cont'; "Blurs, Blends,
Berdaches" (packet); Anzaldua "How to Tame a Wild Tongue" (packet); "We
Came All the Way from Cuba..." & "When I was Puerto Rican" (packet)
Week 9 (18-22 Oct) Cisneros The House on Mango Street ;
"Memories of Girlhood" (packet)
Week 10 (25-29 Oct) "The Erasure of Black Women" (packet);Morrison Beloved
Week 11 (1-5 Nov) off Friday 5 for
Homecoming; "invisible week" -- you'll see why
Week 12 (8-12 Nov) off Thursday 11 for Veterans'
Day; ; Beloved cont'; "Beloved, She's Ours" & "Gendering the
Genderless" (packet); PAPER 2 DUE
Week 13 (15-19 Nov) "Compulsory
Heterosexuality" (handout/reserve?); "What Has Never
Been" (handout/reserve?); "A Cultural Legacy Denied"; Sinclair Coffee
Will Make You Black
Week 14 (22-26 Nov) off Thurs & Fri 25-26 for
Thanksgiving; Coffee Will Make You Black cont'
Week 15 (29 Nov-3 Dec) Coffee Will Make You Black cont'; final questions
Week 16 (6-8 Dec) CREATIVE PROJECTS DUE; final class & wrap-up
PAPER 3 DUE during exam week -- t.b.a.
Note: for reasons of time and/or student interest, writers -- except for
the novelists -- might be either deleted from this list or substituted
with other writers; you will be notified ahead of time.
- As stated above, this syllabus is deliberately brief
to be flexible enough to meet the unpredictable needs of students, while still
providing sufficient information about the course.IT IS THE STUDENT'S
RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW WHEN SPECIFIC ASSIGNMENTS ARE DUE, AND TO TURN THEM IN ON
TIME. STUDENTS SHOULD ALSO BE PREPARED FOR EACH CLASS SESSION, WITH ASSIGNED
READINGS READ AND NOTES TAKEN.
- To ensure that you do not miss
assignments or notes given in class (due to an illness or other absence)
I advise you to familiarize yourself with at least two other students --
trade 'phone numbers so that you have TWO people to contact. You should
not have to contact me for assignments -- in fact, I should be the last
person you contact for any such information, and only as a last resort.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ASSIGNMENTS AND NOTES.