ENGL748F - Seminar in American Literature: Multicultural Literatures of the U.S.

The U.S. operates under a national fiction of multiculturalism. The American melting pot, or perhaps even its newest iteration, the mixed salad, functions through the reinforcement of narratives of cultural exceptionalism and a reification of identity politics.

Multiculturalism, however, is rooted in broader histories and theories of racial, ethnic, and cultural contact, which include miscegenation (U.S.), the Cosmic Race (Mexico), and transculturation (Cuba) to name a few. In this class, we will read a series of texts that reflect and shape literary multiculturalism. The primary and secondary texts in this course also question the politics of identity formation and affiliation. The goal of this course is to trace the origins of multiculturalism, as well as the problematics of utilizing this term.

Some operating key terms in this course include, but are not limited to, assimilation, miscegenation, race, ethnicity, pluralism, essentialism, and cultural exceptionalism. We may read work by W.E.B. DuBois, José Martí, Sui Sin Far, Nella Larsen, Karen Tei Yamashita, Guillermo Gomez-Peña, Junot Díaz, Gish Jen, Octavia Butler, Anna Deveare Smith, Philip Roth, Chang-rae Lee, George Lipsitz, Fernando Ortiz, Lauren Berlant, Charles Taylor, Michael Warner, Mae M. Ngai, and José David Saldivar.