(re)Making the American Family
Spring Quarter 2015
English 242 C "(re)Making the American Family"
Instructor: R. Allen Baros
This course will interrogate the cultural and political constructions of the American family through literature and cultural production. The role of family has been an ever revered and sometimes questioned concept in American politics and culture. Often used as a basis for organizing economic systems, it has also often been used as a marker of cultural, political, and ethical normativity as it organizes gender, sexuality, and class into formations of power and privilege. Long before and after the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s and 70s, normativity of family often took on the role of a specter, rising up to haunt racialized and non-normative families and their members, reminding them of the distance between themselves and the normative American ideal, or what Audre Lorde calls the “mythical norm.” The figure of family was significant through the Civil Rights movements, leading to ongoing debates about the form and function of the concept. Text for this course will span from the just prior to the period known as the Civil Rights era and move toward our contemporary cultural moment. In order to provide a discussion of family formations and politics unique to the United States and the 20th through 21st century we will largely discuss texts in which race, gender, sexuality, and family all intersect.
Primary texts will include: (later texts subject to change)
Pocho by José Antonio Villarreal
No No Boy by John Okada.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Rain God by Arturo Islas
We the Animals by Justin Torres
Additional readings via course reader