ENGL 259 A: Literature And Social Difference

Margins and Centers: who's in, who's out, and why that matters for all of us

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 1:20pm
Location: 
SIG 224
SLN: 
21620
Instructor:
photo of Anu Taranath
Anu Taranath

Syllabus Description:

Literature & Social Difference:

“Margins and Centers: who's in, who's out, and why that matters for all of us”

Instructor: Dr. Anu Taranath (anu@uw.edu, www.anutaranath.com)

Class Time: T & TH 11:30-1:20pm

Office Hours: Tuesdays 1:30-2:30 & by appt.

This class focuses on literature that will help us think about how people categorize each other on the basis of various social and biological features, including gender, race, ethnicity, language, citizenship status, sexuality, and ability. In all societies around the globe, some are part of the Center--often with status and the power to make and enforce rules--and some are relegated to the Margin--often with less power and subject to the rules and regulations that the Center dictates. These dynamics play out in terms of international relations between countries on the world stage, as well as in our own seemingly smaller lives with family and friends. What's going on? Why does this keep happening? And what does this have to do with you and me? The novels we read this term will help us imagine people who might seem different from us, and provoke us to ask larger questions about identity, power, privilege, society and the role of culture in our lives.

This is a special class associated with University of Washington in the High School:

What is UWHS? A program in which high school students can take UW courses and earn UW credit at their own school. “Margins and Centers” is being taught concurrently at 4 area high schools in early 2016: Franklin HS, Eastlake HS, Kentlake HS and Roosevelt HS. The 5 high school teachers and your professor have extensively collaborated on this course for the past two years through the Texts and Teachers Program, and are thrilled to be teaching and learning together in this way. Throughout the quarter, we will interact with our 5 high school teachers from all 4 schools.

Our overall learning goals:

--To better understand how issues of “margins” and “centers” work in concert with one another

in the literature under investigation as well as our own lives.

--To appreciate the connections between fictional portraits and the real-life portraits we

navigate daily.

--To consider how we learn and teach about margins and centers in our day to day lives. In this

class and with our high school colleagues, we will strive to pay close attention to how we learn and teach together.

Required Texts:

What Night Brings—Carla Trujillo

Bastard Out of Carolina—Dorothy Allison

Bone—Fae Myenne Ng

Coming of Age Around the World—ed Adiele & Frosch

Articles and essays available on Canvas

Course expectations: all readings & assignments completed on assigned days; attendance in class and workshops, course work to be turned in on time; engagement and respectfulness toward colleagues and course ideas. Late papers will not be accepted unless something quite dramatic occurs. If you are absent from class, first check with two of your classmates to find out what you have missed and exchange notes. Once you do this you can contact me for additional information. If you do not come to class, you will not do well in this course. I will post reading prompts, short questions, and other course information via canvas announcements, so please check for this and enable your Canvas settings accordingly.

Assignments and Grade Distribution:

First Look Epistemology paper—5%

Connected to Class—10%

Midterm Project—30%

Final Portfolio Project—35%

Participation—20%

 

Paper 1: Your First Look Epistemology

Are you a margin or a center? How do you know this? This is a Working Paper, which implies a provisional, incomplete nature, and will be evaluated on its thoughtfulness and self-investigation. Suggested length 2 pages, due Thursday January 7th at the beginning of class. 5%

Connected to Class

Our campus frequently hosts free lectures, film screenings, performances, discussions, presentations and other opportunities to engage in “margin and center” issues. Attend one such event either on or off campus this quarter. To make sure the event you’re thinking of attending will count for this assignment, first run your idea by a classmate or two. Attend your event, then write a 1-2 page report that briefly describes it and explores the connections to our class readings and discussions. Floating due date: due anytime before Feb 19 noon. 10%.

 

Midterm Project: due Thursday Feb 11 at the beginning of class.

Part 1) Second Look Epistemology paper

Take a look at your First Look Epistemology paper. Now, four weeks later, have your ideas about margins and centers grown, changed, revised, refined, or stayed the same? Why do you think so? How have the readings and class discussions contributed to your evolving sense of how margins and centers operate, how they play out in society as well as through your own life? The Second Look Epistemology paper offers an opportunity to chart your own intellectual progress by engaging heavily with the readings and class discussions. Suggested length 3-4 pages. 15%.

Part 2) Not-Your-Epistemology

When we deeply engage with the stories of people who are different than us, we stretch our capacity for empathy and compassion. Think of a minor character we have read about who seems absolutely, incontrovertibly different than you in terms of identity. Compose an epistemology for them in the first person examining how they have come to believe particular ideas about themselves, margins, centers, differences and society—somewhat similar to your own First Look epistemology but bolstered by a few more weeks of reading and intellectual work on these topics. Base your fictionalized Not-Your-Epistemology on the little you know about the character from what we’ve read, and mostly from your imagination. Suggested length 3-4 pages. 15%.

 

Final Portfolio Project: due Thursday March 10 at the beginning of class.

This multidisciplinary and multi-layered project is designed to encourage you to showcase your cumulative learning.

Part 1) Visual Mapping

Create a visual of the terms “margin,” “center,” “difference,” “similarity,” YOU, and two other words of your choice connected to this class. This assignment is an opportunity to map yourself onto our cumulative class themes. You may use any visual medium. Do not use the terms above in the visual image as actual words, but rather, figure out how to represent them in a more creative and organic way. Include a paragraph or two explanation of the visual image, how you came to it, and what is signifies. 5%.

Part 2) Two Short Critical Analyses on Bone

1. Many “lost” things and people are represented throughout Bone. Besides Leon in the opening scene, what or who is lost and why? Who finds things (or not), and why? What might author Fae Myenne Ng be suggesting with this literary device and theme? Suggested length 3 pages. 10%

2. There’s a lot of stitching going on throughout Bone. If Mah’s sewing machine could talk, what would it say? What might the sewing machine say about some of the themes that flow through this book, such as labor, immigration, history, gender, home and living a documented or undocumented life? What particular angle or lens might the sewing machine offer us different than, say, Leon's suitcase or Nina's short hair? Suggested length 3 pages. 10%.

Part 3) Dear Me Letter

Write a letter to the person you hope to be in another 5 years. What would you like your future self to remember from this quarter’s worth of thinking, reading and conversation? Suggested length 1-2 pages. 10%.

 

Participation: includes all assigned readings by the assigned dates; active participation in class and workshops; attendance, short writings, short homeworks, collaborative engagement with our class colleagues, timely submission of written work, overall “how you are engaging with the people and ideas of this class”: 20%

 

Schedule of Readings & Assignments, subject to revision 

week 1—tues jan 5: introduction to course themes, philosophies, pedagogies, expectations;

                thurs jan 7: First Look Epistemology due; My Brown Eyes; Bastard Out of Carolina (1-50)

 

week 2—tues jan 12: Bastard Out of Carolina

                thurs jan 14: Bastard Out of Carolina/ film screening

 

week 3—tues jan 19: finish Carolina; D. Allison two short readings (on Canvas)

                thurs jan 21: film screening Tough Guise, begin reading What Night Brings

 

week 4- tues jan 26: complete What Night Brings

                thurs jan 28: What Night Brings

 

week 5—tues feb 2: literary criticism on What Night Brings & film screening Two or Three Things I Know for Sure, foodways & what night brings.pdf

                thurs feb 4: film screening

 

week 6—tues feb 9: midterm workshop

                thurs feb 11: Midterm Project due; film screening

 

week 7- tues feb 16: Bone

                   thurs feb 18: Bone/ literary criticism on Bone

 

week 8— tues feb 23: Midterm revisions due, film screening

                   thurs feb 25: Coming of Age Around the World (In the Shadow of War; Last Gamble; Black Men)

 

week 9— tues march 1:  Roosevelt & Kentlake HS (Preface, Beets, Sea Urchins)

                   thurs march 3: Franklin & Eastlake HS visits (Preface, On the Road at 18, Shadows on the Wall)

 

wk 10—  tues march 8: Final Portfolio Project Workshop

                   thurs march 10: Final Portfolio Project due; film screening

Additional Details:

“Margins and Centers: who's in, who's out, and why that matters for all of us”

This class focuses on literature that will help us think about how people categorize each other on the basis of various social and biological features, including gender, race, ethnicity, language, citizenship status, sexuality, and ability. In all societies around the globe, some are part of the Center--often with status and the power to make and enforce rules--and some are relegated to the Margin--often with less power and subject to the rules and regulations that the Center dictates. These dynamics play out in terms of international relations between countries on the world stage, as well as in our own seemingly smaller lives with family and friends. What's going on? Why does this keep happening? And what does this have to do with you and me? The novels we read this term will help us imagine people who might seem different from us, and provoke us to ask larger questions about identity, power, privilege, society and the role of culture in our lives.

This is a special class associated with University of Washington in the High School:

What is UWHS? A program in which high school students can take UW courses and earn UW credit at their own school. “Margins and Centers” will be taught concurrently at 4 area high schools in 2016: Franklin HS, Eastlake HS, Kentlake HS and Roosevelt HS. The 5 high school teachers and your professor have extensively collaborated on this course for the past two years through the Texts and Teachers Program, and are thrilled to be teaching and learning together in this way. Throughout the quarter, we will interact with high school teachers and students from all 4 schools.

Catalog Description: 
Literary texts are important evidence for social difference (gender, race, class, ethnicity, language, citizenship status, sexuality, ability) in contemporary and historical contexts. Examines texts that encourage and provoke us to ask larger questions about identity, power, privilege, society, and the role of culture in present-day or historical settings.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 3:58pm