ENGL 242 B: Reading Prose Fiction

Afro Asia and US Multiculturalism

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 9:30am - 10:20am
Location: 
CDH 105
SLN: 
14065
Instructor:
photo
Alan Williams

Syllabus Description:

Course Description

When Mao Zedong wrote in support of the US Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, he highlighted how ongoing racial discrimination is a product of "dual tactics" and "a colonialist and imperialist system." Given that the US state was founded on racism (slavery and genocide), scholars today note how civil rights legislation and the rise of US multiculturalism were not the beginning of the end of this system, but rather the imperial state's adjustment to antiracist and anti-colonial struggles not only in the US but abroad (communism in China, Korea, Vietnam, independence movements in India, pan-Africa, and so on).

A central aim of this course will be to think through the rise of US multiculturalism as an extension of the imperial project. In other words, as a class we will aim to rid ourselves of the nationalist "racial progress" narrative. The first half of the course will focus on Asian Americanist critique and storytelling to grapple with the rise and permutations of the orientalist "peril/model" binary for both US Asian racialization and US empire in Asia. We will use the medium of fiction and the skill of close-reading to develop informed social and historical analysis, which in turn will enhance our reading of both fiction and the world around us. In the second half of the course, we will read two important texts by black internationalists, W.E.B. Du Bois' 1928 novel "Dark Princess: A Romance" and Richard Wright's "The Color Curtain," a creative nonfictional account of the 1955 Bandung Conference in Indonesia, a pivotal meeting of African and Asian nations in the midst of the Cold War. These texts allow us to explore themes such as the relationship between idealism and realism, and "the color line within the color line" (as Du Bois puts it) in both fictional and nonfictional efforts toward global moral progress. Both Du Bois and Wright ponder the US racial order on the global scale, are cautiously hopeful for alternatives, yet their texts remain hauntingly relevant today as Black Lives Matter critiques the US police state, as Japan re-militarizes after 70 years of pacifism, and as China invests heavily into developing Africa.

(This course carries the “W” credit.)

Materials

Du Bois, W.E.B. 1928. Dark Princess: A Romance (ISBN-13: 978-0199387434)

Wright, Richard. 1956. The Color Curtain: A Report of the Bandung Conference. (In the collection: "Black Power: Three Books from Exile" - ISBN-13: 978-0061449451)

All other required texts (essays, stories) made available electronically through Canvas.

Additional Details:

Autumn Quarter 2015
Course: ENGL 242B: Afro Asia and US Multiculturalism
Instructor: Alan Williams

When Mao Tse-Tung wrote in support of the US Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, he highlighted how ongoing racial discrimination is a "product of a colonialist and imperialist system." Given that the US state was founded on racism (slavery and genocide), scholars today note how civil rights legislation and the rise of US multiculturalism were not the beginning of the end of this system, but rather the imperial state's adjustment to antiracist and anti-colonial struggles not only in the US but abroad (communism in China, Korea, Vietnam, independence movements in India, pan-Africa, and so on).

A central aim of this course will be to think through the rise of US multiculturalism as an extension of the imperial project. In other words, as a class we will aim to rid ourselves of the nationalist "racial progress" narrative. Along with supplemental essays and short stories, we will read two important texts by black internationalists, W.E.B. Du Bois' 1928 fictional "Dark Princess: A Romance" and Richard Wright's creative nonfictional account of the 1955 Bandung Conference in Indonesia, "The Color Curtain." We will consider the use of fiction versus nonfiction when grappling with social questions. Both Du Bois and Wright ponder the US racial order on the global scale, are cautiously hopeful for alternatives, yet their texts remain hauntingly relevant today as Black Lives Matter critiques the US police state, as Japan re-militarizes after 70 years of pacifism, and as China invests heavily into developing Africa.

Required reading:

Du Bois, W.E.B. 1928. Dark Princess: A Romance (ISBN-13: 978-0199387434) (2014 edition)

Wright, Richard. 1956. The Color Curtain: A Report of the Bandung Conference (In the collection: "Black Power: Three Books from Exile" - ISBN-13: 978-0061449451) (2008 edition)

Assignments:

Two 5-page essays, weekly short writing. This course fulfills the "W" requirement.

Catalog Description: 
Critical interpretation and meaning in works of prose fiction, representing a variety of types and periods.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Other Requirements Met: 
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 12:38pm