ENGL 355 A: American Literature: Contemporary America

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
LOW 205
Professor Ishii, photographed against that Seattle grey
Douglas Ishii

Syllabus Description:

Recent widescale social movements like Black Lives Matter have reverberated in the arts as the demand for artists of color to have increased access to the means of representation.  While advocates and audiences alike view this numerical increase in representation as resistance, artists and activists have cautioned against a premature embrace of such visibility for visibility’s sake.  As a study of Contemporary America, this course will focus on art about art about race – or, stories about artists of color trying to make are.  In doing so, course texts will elucidate the institutional norms, political discourses, genre-based demands, and demands from multiple audiences that artists of color face.  Against the expectation that race in the U.S. is best understood through tragedy and historical realism, this course will read the genres of satire, metafiction, and the kunstlerroman, with a special analysis of literary strategies like irony, humor, self-reflexivity, and metacommentary.  Using an intersectional framework, we will read novels, poetry, drama, and films that explore how art-making reflects the collision of the interconnected liberation movements of mid-20th century with the multicultural consumerism of the late-20th century.  To that end, we will ask: What does it mean to make art about race?  And if we challenge older models of art as “coming to voice,” how can we understand the politics of creativity and expression?  This course will require active participation in class discussion, and require 40 to 70 pages of reading per class.  The quarter will culminate in the completion of an original research paper or creative project related to the themes of the course.  Course readings may include works by Percival Everett, Spike Lee, Don Lee, Natalie Diaz, Claudia Rankine, and Hanif Abdurraqib.

Catalog Description: 
Examines recent American literature and its historical and cultural contexts.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 4, 2021 - 7:23am