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This course proposes to examine the implications of what Trinh T. Minh-Ha has called "specialness," or the distinctiveness of "ethnic" or "third world" experience, as it is represented and consumed in the literary marketplace (including classes like this one). That consumption has a discourse of its own, centered on often conflicting demands for authenticity. The test of authenticity for one reading community might be a book's perceived difference from that community's own experience; for another community (usually the one the author is perceived as coming from), the same book must represent a familiar experience to pass the test. Some questions we will address: How might "ethnic" writing and production both expose itself to and insulate itself from critique via claims to authenticity? How does an author negotiate others' demands for a certain kind of authenticity, and his or her own deeply felt (authentic?) need to consolidate identity by returning to ethnic “origins”? What in a set of publisher’s or reader’s demands for the “real” form or shape what we determine to be “fake”? We will study the primary texts in the context of mainstream literary reviews and other theoretical/polemical statements concerning the “meaning” of ethnic experience. Authors studied may include: Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Leslie Silko, Louise Erdrich, Sandra Cisneros, Richard Rodriguez, Ishmael Reed, Gloria Anzaldúa, Maxine Hong Kingston, Frank Chin, Jeanine Cummins, and Trinh Minh-Ha

Fall 2021: ENGL BC3218
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 3218 001/00432 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
Kristin Carter 3.00 22/30