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English 6100, Summer 2007

Studying and Teaching Multicultural Literature

Provisional Syllabus in Preparation

Perhaps this seminar should be called "Challenges in Studying and Teaching Multicultural Literature" because we will explore the problems and possibilities students and teachers encounter as they seek to take on the transformation of literature study and teaching. This course is intended to raise questions, initiate discussions, and broaden and deepen perspectives.

This class will not fully or even adequately address the topic or topics raised, it will not "certify" expertise in any of these areas, it will not provide simple or satisfying answers. Of course we will not "cover" Native American, Chicano, Asian American, African, and Modern Arabic literatures. The ambition of the class is to foster more thoughtful, respectful, historically and culturally informed teaching and open doors to further learning.

We will meet Monday through Thursday, 9-11:30, during a special summer session, June 18 to July 19 in a laptop seminar classroom in Sangren Hall, room 3310.

Reading for the class will consist of a series of five texts read in common, and five texts or films viewed independently, along with scholarly and critical articles available on line and handed out. The class will include presentations, visiting speakers, and field trips. Meeting real people and learning about living communities is a valued part of this course's approach to multicultural literature. We will develop of a class wiki site intended as a resource for other secondary and university teachers and scholars.


Required Reading:

Momaday, N. Scott. The Way to Rainy Mountain.

Rivera, Thomas. ...y no se lo tragó la tierra / ...And the Earth Did Not Devour Him

Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club.

Ousmane, Sembene. Xala

Kanafani, Ghassan. Men in the Sun.

Five additional literary works or films, selected from lists provided by the professor in each area of study: Native American, Chicano, Asian American, African, Contemporary Middle Eastern Literature.

Packets including scholarly, historical, and pedagogical essays. 


Five short analysis papers examining a teaching or scholarly challenge regarding a work read independently by the student (4-5 pages). This paper describes the challenge and offers ideas and resources. It should include secondary sources, including web resources, and be published on the class wiki site.

Collaborative work on the wiki site.



June 18-21
Native American Literature

Mon, June 18

Tues, June 19

  • Discussion of Way to Rainy Mountain; Kiowa Music
  • Discussion of readings/websites:
    1. "History" from Talking Indian: Reflections on Survival and Writing (Anna Lee Waters)
    2. "Adventures of an Indian Princess" (Patricia Wiley)
    3. "The Prisoner of Haiku" (Gordon Henry)
    4. "On the Translation of Native American Song and Story" (Arnold Krupat)
    5. "Image and Silence" (Helen Jaskoski)

Wed, June 20

Thurs, June 21

  • Guest Speaker: Debra Muller, Nottawaseppi Huron Potawatomi, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Norton Mounds Project Director
  • Presentation of problems and plans

June 25-28
Chicano Literature

Mon, June 25

  • Discussion of And the Earth Did Not Devour Him

Tues, June 26

  • Discussion of readings/websites:
    1. "We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God," Howard Zinn
    2. "Preface, Introduction, Chapter One" of Occupied America, Rodolfo Acuna
    3. "Dona Petra," Max Martinez
    4. "Los Vendidos," Luis Valdez
    5. "Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to 3rd World Women," Gloria Anzaldua
    6. "I Want to Write an American Poem: On Being a Chicano Poet in Post-Columbian America," Benjamin Saenz
    7. from Alburquerque, Rudolfo Anaya

Wed, June 27

  • Guest Speaker: Andrea Juarez, New Latino Visions
  • Field Trip: Lunch at La Mexicana Market / Restaurant

Thurs, June 28

  • Discussion of reading, teaching, wiki pages

July 2-5
Asian American Literature
with Erinn Bentley

Mon, July 2

  • Discussion of The Joy Luck Club

Tues, July 3

  • Discussion of readings:
    1. "Globalization and 'Asian Values': Teaching and Theorizing Asian American Literature," Yuan Shu
    2. "'Sugar Sisterhood': Situating the Amy Tan Phenomenon," Sau-Ling Cynthia Wong
    3. "Preface to Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers," Frank Chin
    4. "Introduction" from Charlie Chan is Dead, Jessica Hagedorn
    5. "Filipino American Values," Daniel Gonzales
    6. "The Model Minority Discourse," Brian Niiya
    7. "Reading Asian Characters in English," George Leonard
    8. "The Early History of Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Filipinos in America," Brian Niiya
    9. "Asian American Literature: The Canon and the First Generation," S.E. Solberg
    10. "Japanese American Life in the Twentieth Century," K. Morgan Yamanaka
    11. "Korean American One-Point-Five," Jeeyeon Lee

Wed, July 4

  • National Holiday: No class

Thurs, July 5

  • Discussion of wiki pages
  • Panel of Guest Speakers

July 9-12
African Literature

Mon, July 9

  • Discussion of Xala

Tues, July 10

  • Discussion of readings:
  • 1. "Concerning Violence" and "On National Culture" from Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon
  • 2. "Language in African Fiction" from Decolonizing the Mind, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
  • 3. "Introduction: Reading the African Novel" by Keith Booker
  • 4. "Revisiting the 'Roman de la Desillusion': A Semiotic and Cultural Reading of Ousmane Sembene's Xala" by Gloria Nne Onyeoziri
  • 5. "Tribal Scars" by Sembene Ousmane

Wed, July 11

Thurs, July 12

  • Discussion of reading, teaching and wiki pages

July 14
Kalamazoo Ethnic Diversity Celebration, noon-8:00pm
Mayor's Riverfront Park

July 16-19
Contemporary Middle Eastern Literature In Translation
with Dr. Mustafa Kemal Mirzeler

Mon, July 16

  • History of the Modern Middle East
  • Oral and Koranic Traditions

Tues, July 17

Wed, July 18

Thurs, July 19

  • Oral Tradition, Sufi Poetry, Landscape
  • Reading, Teaching, and Wiki Project


Given the condensed nature of the class participation is vital in 6100, missing classes may lower the grade and missing more than 4 classes may lead to failing. This class will follow WMU academic honesty policies.

Additional Websites

If at any point in the semester if you feel stress, English 6100 offers free on-line therapy from Eliza! (One of the early products of artificial intelligence research.)

created by: allen.webb@wmich.edu
updated: 7/07
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