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IV B Spring 2003
U. S. Cultures in the Era of Globalization
TAKE HOME EXAM
Papers DUE LAST DAY OF YOUR EXAM SESSION
1. CHOOSE ten of the following topics, and by choosing them demonstrate that you have read AT LEAST 15 articles from the coursepack (DO NOT exceed 1 page for each topic)
2. The following two topics are compulsory
Political and cultural representation of race and ethnicity - give an outline of this topic with reference to the readings in this seminar; (do not exceed 2 pgs.)
Having as a starting point R. Mihaila’s history of American Studies as a discipline in American Challenge discuss American Studies in the Age of Globalization (Ikcstadt)
Theories of ethnicity and assimilation (Kantowicz)
Origins, aims and policies of the 'Americanization' movement in the 20th century.
“Tyrants cannot repress ethnicity with force but democracies can sap its vitality with blandishments.” Comment with reference to Kantowicz’s article.
American identity as evolved from “playing indian”
Justify the presence of 'white Indians' in 18th century America. Refer to Philip Deloria's Playing Indian.
The rhetoric of disguise as part of the rhetoric of the Revolution. Comment with reference to Philip Deloria's Playing Indian.
“The writing and rewriting of history are continuing human activities, but the historical moment of the writer is thus quite as important as the times he ventures to describe.” Explain with reference to recent American fiction (with reference to at least two texts from the cpack)
How does Sollors define ethnicity in American culture? (The Invention of Ethnicity and Beyond Ethnicity)
Ethnicity as defined by Sollors and David Hollinger
Discuss Du Bois’ statement in relation to the concept of race and Gilroy’s notion of diaspora
“The Negro is a sort of seventh son born with a veil and gifted with a second sight in this American world – a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness, this sense of always looking at oneself through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness - an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, tow unreconciliable strivings, tow warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” ( W E B Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk ,1903)
Paul Gilroy argues that the nation-state is not an appropriate unit of analysis for the study of black diaspora populations and that it leads to a counterproductive, even destructive “ethnic absolutism” rather than a truly liberatory politics (1993, 5). Discuss
Define diaspora in Gilroy’s terms.
Define postethnic America Hollinger
Racism as discussed and defined by Shohat and Stam
Race, racism (du Bois, Gilroy, Busia, Shohat, Ellison)
Evidence, effects, and interpretations of colonialism, postcolonialism, and neo colonialism in Jamaica Kincaid and Michelle Cliff (with reference to at least two texts from the cpack, Ruth Frankenberg and Lata Mani, “Cross Currents, Crosstalk: Race, “Postcoloniality”, and the Politics of Location” might be helpful)
What is "orientalism"? Discuss with reference to Edward Said’s article
What is “balkanism”? Discuss with reference to Todorova’s article
Discuss Codrescu’s view with reference to “orientalism”/ “balkanism”
“If you ask an American today what he or she knows about Romania, you are likely to hear that it is a country full of abandoned children, ruled until recently by Dracula, and now ruled by miners, and also a country which gave the world a great playwright Eugene Ionesco, and a great gymnast Nadia Comaneci.” (“Romania Today: A Bad Novel”)
Discuss Codrescu’s excepts (“Bucharest”, “The Mysteries of Sibiu”) in connection with Todorova’s Imagining the Balkans
Define: globalization, transcultural/transnational, global/local, postnational, multinational, with reference to articles from the cpack (Jameson, Dirlik, etc)
Cartography (Shohat & Stam)
Ethnicities in relation – discuss with reference to Shohat &Stam and de Mott
“ ‘America’ is – many forms of ethnicity, many patterns of thought, many ways of life, many cultures, many American literatures.” (Sacvan Bercovich) Discuss with reference to at least two theoretical articles from the cpack
Discuss Maxine Hong Kingston’ reaction to the ‘Cultural Misreadings’ of Woman Warrior
Discuss M.H. Kinston’s article with reference to Orientalism
Chicano/a mestisaje define (Rafael Perez-Torres)
Discuss and ilustrate “…politics overdetermines cultural geography” (Ella Shohat) with reference to at least two texts from the course pack
What is Polycentric Multiculturalism? (Shohat&Stam)
Small Place as literature of protest. Discuss
The significance of language “mother tongue” for ethnic writers (Amy Tan, Rodriguez, Kincaid, etc)
Ethnicity in the wake of September 11. Discuss with reference to the articles in the cpack
Ethnic hi/stories. Discuss with reference to at least two texts
The Politics of location – discuss with reference to two texts ( Abena Busia Re.Locations – Rethinking …” might be helpful)
Comment with reference to theories of ethnicity:
“As for me, I want to figure out, more urgently than before, where I belong in this America…I want somehow to give up the condition of being a foreigner. I no longer want to tell people quaint stories from the Old Country, I don’t want to be told that ‘exotic is erotic’, or that I have Eastern European intensity, or brooding Galician eyes….I want to reenter through whatever Looking Glass will take me there, a state of ordinary reality.”
“I am in a rage, immigrant rage I call it.”
“I think my friends often suspect me of perverse refusal to play along, an unaccountable desire to provoke and disturb their comfortable consensus. I suspect that their consensus is trying to colonize me and rob me of my distinctive shape and flavor. Still, I have to come to terms with it somehow. Now that I am no longer a visitor, I can no longer ignore the terms of reality prevailing here, or sit on the margins observing the curious habits of the natives. I have to learn how to live with them, find a common ground. It is my fear that I have to yield too much of my own ground that fills me with such a passionate energy of rage.”
“ I have to translate myself. But if I’m to achieve this without becoming assimilated - that is absorbed – by my new world, the translation has to be careful, the turns of the psyche unforced. …A true translation proceeds by the motions of understanding and sympathy..”(Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation)
Comment with reference to theories of race and ethnicity:
“In the wake of the unspeakable horrors of September 11, signs have emerged of a lesser casualty: multiculturalism. In recent years the American melting pot turned from pressure cooker to salad bowl as more and more visible minorities preserved their right to be identifiably different while procclaiming their assimilation into the American Dream. Citizens no longer needed to have color, creed, costume or custom in common. Americans grew used to sharing their streets with men in flowing beard and turbans and women covered from head to toe; mosques and temples sprouted like organic plants across the land. It was all part of the new multiethnic mosaic called America.
No more. Public hostility to the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks – browned skinned Muslims - has transformed difference into diffidence.” (Tharoor, “Brown in America”, Newsweek, October 29, 2001)
Comment with reference to theories of race:
I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; not am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me, they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination – indeed, everything and anything except me.
Nor is my invisibility exactly a matter of bio-chemical accident to my epidermis. That invisibility to which I refer occurs because of a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those with whom I come in contact. A matter of the construction of their inner eyes, those eyes with which they look through their physical eyes upon reality. I am not complaining, nor am I protesting either. … Or again, you often doubt if you really exist. You wonder whether you aren’t simply a phantom in other’s people’s minds. (Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, 1952)