ENGL 1365: Literature of Minorities
Literature of Minorities not only introduces students to major works of minority literature, but also to the major issues and paradigms established for understanding that literature through social, cultural, and aesthetic perspectives. The course begins by examining the category of "minority" as a cultural paradox, one that simultaneously asserts and marginalizes identity. To this end, we will explore the issue of “identity politics,” an idea that emerged in the 1960’s that places ethnic and group solidarity above more traditional notions of an inclusive American national identity. We will supplement course literature with other forms of writing (sociological, political, theological) that examines the debates between identity politics and “melting pot” ideology.
In examining the question of “identity” raised by minority literatures, the course will also address major issues like “Diaspora culture” and the new cosmopolitan identities forged by globalization. To this end, we will also explore from contemporary, historical and literary perspectives the tension between “tradition” and “modernity” that governs so much of this literature, particularly the literature of race and immigration. Through literature and literary analysis, this course seeks to familiarize students with contemporary models of cultural analysis that has repositioned minority literature to a central place within a globalizing world. The course will also use film as a means for deepening our understanding of issues raised by the course readings.
Bruce Levy has a Ph.D. in American Studies from Brown University. He has published articles in refereed journals and delivered papers at professional conferences on issues of race and national identity, race and modernity, and trans-Atlantic racial exchange. For 16 years he directed SMU’s Center for Inter-Community Experience (later Academic Community Experience), which combined coursework on issues of race and class with work in the at-risk minority Dallas community of East Garret Park.
Learning Outcomes and Benefits
- Gain a familiarity with classic American minority literatures
- Gain a familiarity with contemporary models for understanding how these literatures function both aesthetically and socially
- Develop skills as deliberate, analytical readers
- Develop skills of inter-disciplinary, “horizontal” thinking
- Develop a comfort level in dealing with issues that often go undiscussed in classroom settings
- Develop an understanding of how notions of racial and ethnic difference have exerted extraordinary force within American life
- Develop an ability to position themselves within a post-racial, globalizing world