Literary Geographies of Belonging in Contemporary America
This course will focus on a variety of contemporary literary texts - including short stories, novels, essays, film, poetry, etc.
– for the purpose of academic enjoyment and critical engagement. In exploring these genres, we will investigate “literary
geographies” to better understand how cultural representations examine, define, and complicate ideas of home, place, history,
identity, and belonging. “Literary geographies” refer to the ways in which we will ask questions about what constitutes the
literary and how texts are contextualized and placed as physically and metaphorically belonging to the U.S. nation. This means
that the texts will ask questions and complicate what belonging entails and how history, place, and home are further influenced
by issues of race, class and gender. We will develop and practice strategies for reading, writing, thinking about, and discussing
different types of texts.
We will read a broad range of contemporary texts, most of which will be included in the Course Reader. Other texts will include
novels like Ruth Ozeki’s World Over Creation, Chang-Rae Lee’s A Gesture Life, and short story collections like Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven. We will watch Alexander Payne’s film adaptation of The Descendants and some other contemporary television episodes. Other readings may include in whole or part: Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Gary Pak, Cathy Song, Jhumpa Lahiri, Lisa-Linn Kanae, Junot Diaz, Ian McMillan, Leslie Marmon Silko, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Haunani Kay-Trask.
Students should expect to actively participate in class activities, including lectures, group presentations, group work, and
discussions. It is crucial to bring an open-minded, curious, and respectful attitude to this class in order to foster engaging
and productive discussion.
This class counts for a "W" writing credit, and will require students to write two 5-7 page revisable papers. Students can also
expect to write semi-formal reading responses and to participate in a group presentation.
*Books will be available at the bookstore
*Course pack will be available from Ave Copy
4. Book List:
-Ruth Ozeki, World Over Creation,
* ISBN-10: 0142003891
* ISBN-13: 978-0142003893
-Chang-Rae Lee, A Gesture Life,
* ISBN-10: 1573228281
* ISBN-13: 978-1573228282
-Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,
* ISBN-10: 0802121993
* ISBN-13: 978-0802121998