English | Ethnic American Literature
L374 | 1899 | Brady

4:00p-5:15p TR (30) 3 cr.

The experience of migration has been a compelling and significant
theme in African American and Mexican American literature. In
contrast, Asian American writers have more frequently turned to
the experience of immigration. This course will examine migration
and immigration as thematic concerns in U.S. literature. We will
begin with one of the first African American novels of migration,
CLOTEL, by William Wells Brown, and then continue our
discussion by turning to texts by Richard Wright, Dorothy West,
James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison. In this segment of the course
we will also explore how African Americans used music,
particularly the blues, to narrate the experience of migration and
how that music has informed literary production, particularly
poetry. Within Mexican American literature the theme of migration
has followed a different course. We will trace the historical course
of "migration" and the ironic turns it has taken by beginning with
memoirs written in the 19th century as Mexicans were displaced
from their homes in California. We will then examine how this
literature has developed in the twentieth century through the
poetry, short stories, and novels of Chicano/a writers, including
Amirico Paredes, Gloria Anzaldza, Arturo Islas, and Helena
Viramontes. In the concluding segment of the course we will turn
to the question of immigration as it has been developed by Asian
American writers. We will begin with journalistic texts from the
nineteenth century in which writers describe the experience of
immigrating to the United States and then migrating within the
nation, and then turn to more recent fiction and poetry, including
texts by Hisaye Yamamoto, Carlos Bulosan, Karen Yamashita, and
Li-Young Lee. In order to more fully appreciate the complexity
and nuances of each of these texts, we will also read historical and
critical material. Requirements for the course will include, in
addition to attendance and participation, three papers, one group
presentation, and one exam.