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U.S. Cultures in the Era of Globalization
One defining quality of the American experience is that the American nation is the product of many cultural interactions: it is a multicultural nation whose history has been lived on contested ground. This seminar is an exploration of the concepts and realities of ethnicity and race as they appear in literature and culture. Ethnicity and race affect American culture in profound ways; one could argue that America is affected more by these issues than any other country. The genocide of the native peoples and the slave trade are both a function of deeply-held cultural assumptions about ethnicity and race, and we will explore these issues at some length. We will explore ideological concepts, assumptions, and practices along with how these concepts are expressed, informed, and reshaped by literature
At the same time at the heart of our seminar will be the exploration of several contact zones, social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and negotiate their borders. The focus of the seminar is the careful interrogation of the ways in which different groups sought to manage their relations with each other. Cultural groups to be studied this semester are Native Americans, European Americans (Eastern Europeans), African Americans, Latino/Latina Americans, and Asian/Pacific Americans. Each of these groups itself constitutes a diversity; the course is a continual questioning of how cultural groupings are conceived, expressed , and interpreted—and why.
The seminar aims to abstract, from specific cultural cases, questions and ideas about what it may mean for a seemingly singular grouping called "American" to be seen multiculturally as a configuration (a continually changing one) of "cultures".
Key Concepts, Definitions, Debates
• Heinz Ickstadt “American Studies in an Age of Globalization” American Quarterly 54.4 (2002) 543-562.
• Shohat, Ella, Stam Robert, “From Eurocentrism to Polycentrism”, in Unthinking Eurocentrism, 13- 46.
• Articles from Newsweek Sept-Nov 2001: “Divided Lives”, “Patriotism vs. Ethnic Pride”, “Facing Our Fear”, “An Immigrant’s Faith”, “A Quilt of a Country”.
Unsettling the American Experience: Immigration, Transnationalism and Globalization
• Benedict Anderson, “The concept of a Nation”, 473-476. and Handout
• Jameson, Frederic, “Globalization and Political Strategy”, New Left Review, Jul. Aug. 2000, 49-68
• Arif Dirlik, “The Global in the Local”, 21-46, in Global/Local:
• Jamaica Kincaid Small Place excerpt
The Social Construction of Race and Ethnicity
• Werner Sollors, “Introduction: The Invention of Ethnicity”, in Invention of Ethnicity (1989) ix-3
• Werner Sollors, Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture (Oxford Univ. Press, 1986) 1-19
• Edward R. Kantowicz – “Ethnicity”, 453 -466 in Encyclopedia of American Social History
• Shohat, Ella, Stam Robert, “Ethnicities-in-Relation” 220-241, in Unthinking Eurocentrism,
• David A. Hollinger, National Culture and Communities of Descent, Reviews in American History 26.1 (1998) 312-328
• Cornel West, ”Diverse New World” 557-563, in SL
• Michael Omi, “In Living Color: Race and American Culture”, 491- 504, in SL.
• Miriam Schurman, “Affirmative Action or Negative Action”, 269-274 AV PLUS (Bush)
American cultures before 1492 and "Columbian" Encounters (the Caliban factor. Enviromental perspectives on colonization.) The White Man's Indian
• Susan Shown Harjo, “I Won’t be Celebrating Columbus Day”, 135-137
• Points of View: Columbus – “The Conqueror of Paradise?” 34-35
• Philip Deloria, Playing Indian, Yale University Press, 1998.
• Shohat, Ella, Stam Robert, “The Columbus Debate” 61-71, in Unthinking Eurocentrism,
• Leslie Marmon Silko, “The Border Patrol State”
• Gerald Vizenor/Momaday
African American history and culture
Readings in African American literary, cultural, and historical theory and criticism, and early narratives. The phenomenon of the "Invisible Man"; concepts of "double consciousness", the "self" and "Other" in the study of African Americans.
• W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, Penguin Books, 1994 (1903) excerpts
• Paul Gilroy, “Route Work: The Black Atlantic and the Politics of Exile”, in the Post-Colonial Question,17-30
• bell hooks, "Representing Whiteness in the Black Imagination," in Grossberg, et.al., eds. Cultural Studies 338-46. /bell hooks, “Postmodern Blackness”, 627-631 in PAF
• Benjamin DeMott: Put on a Happy Face: Masking the Differences between Blacks and Whites, 295-306 in SL
• African American Stereotypes
• Toni Morrison, “Playing in the Dark” 2506-2512 in AmLit
• Morrison, The Bluest Eye/ Ishmael Reed/Audre Lorde
Latino/Latina Intra-Cultural Diversity:
"culturally specific" histories and selections of literature by Chicano/Chicana, Puerto Rican (island and mainland), Cuban American, and Latin American writers in the US. Multilingualism in the US.
• Ramon A Gutierrez, Hispanic diaspora and Chicano identity in the United States , The South Atlantic Quarterly Durham Winter 1999
• Jose Saldivar, Border Matters, University of California Press, 1997, 1-14, 17-36.
• Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (Spinsters/ Aunt Lute Press, 1987), 20-35.
• Guillermo Gomez –Pena: The 90s Culture of Xenophobia, 574-581
• Richard Rodriguez 597-599, “An American Writer” 3-14 in The Invention of Ethnicity
• Helena Maria Viramontes, “The Cariboo Café”, 76-88.
• Cristina Garcia/Julia Alvarez
The Americas (plural): views of and from Carribean, and Pacific Island contemporary cultures; evidence, effects, and interpretations of colonialism, postcolonialism, and neo colonialism; possibilities for a new internationalism and global vision.
• Antonio Benitez-Rojo, “The Repeating Island”
• Cliff, Michelle, History as fiction, fiction as history, Ploughshares, Cambridge, Fall 1994
• Kincaid, Jamaica “Islander Once, Now Voyager”, The New York Times, Sept 2000
• Kincaid, Jamaica, “In History” Callaloo 20.1 (1997) 1-7
• Kincaid, Jamaica, “Girl” 2843-2845 ALit
Issues arising from Asian American constructions of culture. Historical and literary bases for inclusive ways of defining our subject, "American Cultures".
• Lowe, Lisa, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics. Durham, Duke University Press, 1996., 1-37, 84-97. or Elain Kim
• Frank Chin vs. Kingston
• Frank Chin, “Donald Duk and the White Monsters” 66-72 AV
• Amy Tan, “Mother Tongue” 11-17, “Rules of the Game” 480-489.
• Bharati Mukherjee “Two Ways to Belong to America” 116-119, “Beyond Multiculturalism” 454 – 461.
• Gish Jen Mona in the Promised Land, 2717 -2737, “In the American Society” 153-165.
• Wong Sam and Assistants: An English Chinese Phrase Book, 379-388
• Dorinne K. Kondo, “On Being a Conceptual Anomaly” 523-531
• Fan Shen, “The Classroom and the Wider Culture”: Identity as a Key to Learning English Composition”, 531-541.
• Sui Sin Far in Heath 834 -850, “In the Land of the Free” 3-11/ David Henry Hwang, “M. Butterfly, Heath
Different Histories, Different Voices: Arab Americans and Other Middle Easterners:
"orientalism", or the European construct of "the orient"; Arab arts and sciences in the construction of Europe and America (Edward Said, Orientalism, Autobiography) Hassan
• Said, Edward, Orientalism, New York: Vintage, 1994 (1978). excerpts
• “Palestine, Then and Now: An Exile's Journey through Israel and the Occupied Territories.” Harper's Magazine, December, pp. 47-51. 1992.
• “Between Worlds." London Review of Books, 7 May 3-5,1998.
• Hassan, Ihab, “Beyond Exile: A Postcolonial Intellectual Abroad” in Southern Review Summer 29.3, 1993.
• Hassan, Counterpoints: Nationalism, colonialism, multiculturalism, etc. in personal perspective, in Multicultural States, 282-295.
Easterness, East European Visions
• Todorova, Imagining the Balkans excerpts
• Kostova Inventing Ruritania excerpts
• Eva Hoffman, from Lost in Translation 219-228
• Codrescu, The Muse is Half Dressed in New Orleans/
• Timothy Brennan, Cosmo-theory, The South Atlantic Quarterly, Durham , Summer 2001
• Susie O'Brien, Imre Szeman, Introduction: The globalization of fiction/the fiction of globalization , The South Atlantic Quarterly ,Durham, Summer 2001
• Abena Busia, Re:locations – Rethinking Britain from Accra, New York, and the Map Room of the British Museum, 267- 282
• Ruth Frankenberg and Lata Mani, Cross Currents, Crosstalk: Race, “Postcoloniality”, and the Politics of Location in Displacement, Diaspora and Geographies of Identity, 273 – 294.
The course is structured as a series of lecture-seminars, with an introductory talk followed by student presentations and class discussion, in which all students are expected to take part. Students are expected to prepare two oral presentations, each focusing on a discussion theme for that seminar. One oral presentation will be developed into a 3000 word essay in M.L.A. citation style.