What does it mean to be Latinx? This course will introduce students to major authors, genres, and movements in Latinx literary history. We will take a thematic approach, examining how Latinx writers from various communities (Puerto Rican, Mexican American, Cuban American, Dominican American, Central American) have characterized such concepts as language and assimilation, gender and sexuality, race and indigeneity, and borders and migration. We will also put some pressure on the category of Latinx. How do the experiences and histories of the various groups described under that label benefit from and/or resist identification as a single ethnicity? Most importantly, we will ask what literature has to offer as a way of understanding Latinx experiences. What kinds of knowledges and experiences do novels, poems, stories, and plays produce that are different from other kinds of discourses? Texts will include Ernesto Quiñones’s Bodega Dreams (2000), Sandra Cisneros’s House on Mango Street (1984), and Oscar Casares’s Where We Come From (2019).
English 377 / LATINO 393: Latinx Modernism
In this course we will investigate the rich archive of Latinx writing from the early twentieth century, from poems and crónicas published in Spanish-language newspapers to such landmark works as Facundo Bernal’s A Stab in the Dark (1923), Julia de Burgos’s Song of the Simple Truth (1938), and Américo Paredes’s George Washington Gómez (1940). What experiences of modernity do their works describe, and how are those experiences linked to histories of colonization, migration, and exploitation? We will pay particular attention to the idea of latinoamericanismo (Latin Americanism) as a “spiritualized” critique of American materialism. How did latinoamericanismo respond to the increasing racialization of Latinx people in the early twentieth century? What possibilities for enchantment and abundance did Latinx modernism afford to communities in the face of difficult living and working conditions?
Humanities 310 / English 385: Revolution
How have revolutions shaped the modern world? How have artists, writers, historians, and musicians participated in, memorialized, and critiqued revolutionary movements? This course will take a comparative approach to the study of the modern revolution, beginning with the Mexican and Russian revolutions of the early twentieth century, then moving back in time to the American, Haitian, and French revolutions. Drawing from a variety of humanities disciplines, we will seek to understand how revolutionary movements begin, the contingencies of revolutionary action, and what happens when revolutions become institutionalized into state apparatuses. Texts will include Mariano Azuela’s Los de abajo (The Underdogs) (1915), Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry (1920s), Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (1906), Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno,” and selections from Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Washington Irving, and The Federalist Papers.
This small-enrollment, discussion-based seminar will travel to Mexico City the week before fall quarter begins (Sept 10-15) to visit a variety of sites associated with the Mexican Revolution. Course enrollment is by application only.
English 273: Introduction to 20th-Century American Literature, The American Century
When Henry Luce, the publisher of Time magazine, declared in 1941 that it was time to create “the first great American Century,” he meant to advocate for the spread of quintessential American values—freedom, democracy—throughout the globe. But the idea of the American Century has also been invoked to call attention to the United States’ perceived harmful influence in world affairs. This course surveys some of the most important works of modern American literature by examining the intense ambivalence of American writers—including Ernest Hemingway, Nella Larsen, Margaret Atwood, and Junot Díaz—about their place in the world. How have some writers sought to escape the perceived provincialism of their American identities? How have writers grappled with the legacy of American military interventions abroad? What are the United States’ ethical obligations to the world? Texts will include Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Nella Larsen’s Passing, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
The US-Mexico border has been the site of intense cultural conflict since the mid-nineteenth century. It marks both the connection and the division between two nations, and many of our most fraught conversations concern whether the border should be a bridge or a wall. As an entry point into these conversations, this course will survey literature and film centering on the US-Mexico border. Students will become familiar with the history of the border, beginning with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 and extending through NAFTA and up to the current political climate. Together we will consider how the border has become such a potent site for contemporary mythmaking, a flashpoint for anxieties about race, labor, gender, and sexuality. How are borders made? How have writers and filmmakers depicted the cultural anxieties and potentials created by the border? How has the militarization of the border affected Latinx individual and communities? Texts will include Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands / La Frontera, Carmen Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft, Américo Paredes’s George Washington Gómez, Sandra Cisneros’s Woman Hollering Creek, Valerie Martinez’s Each and Her, and Roberto Bolaños’s 2666. Films may include Touch of Evil (1958), Born in East LA (1987), Lone Star (1996), Señorita Extraviada (2003), and Sleep Dealer (2008).