What I’ll Teach This Quarter

Just finalized the reading schedule for the course I’m teaching this quarter (Writing About Literature). Mainly an introductory course filled with freshmen and sophomores who being coerced into taking a college-level writing course. This quarter, it seems I have a science/pre-med cluster. This can go awfully well, or awfully awful. Nonetheless, I am thrilled at making students read! read! read!!!

My course theme is the intersection of race and sexuality, by the way. And this is my list:

Novels: The Rain God by Arturo Islas; The House of Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros; and Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse.

Short Stories: “And Of Clay We Are Created” by Isabel Allende; “Secret Pleasures” by Ernest Hemingway; “Mules and Men” by Zora Neale Hurston (an excerpt); “Through the Stories We Hear Who We Are” by Leslie Marmon Silko; “Rape Fantasies” by Margaret Atwood; “Up In Michigan” by Ernest Hemingway; “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright; “What America Would be Like Without Blacks” by Ralph Ellison; and “Dry September” by William Faulkner.

Theory: “Epistemology of the Closet” by Eve Sedgwick; “The Storyteller” by Walter Benjamin; “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution” by Judith Butler; “Borderlands/La Frontera” by Gloria Anzaldua. I am not a fan of Butler nor Sedgwick, but alas, it’s not always about my personal politics. These pieces, I think, provide useful lenses for the primary texts.

Other things: Read an excerpt of Incognegro (a graphic graphic novel set in the South in the 1930s about an African American man who is set to be lynched for rape of a white woman–without any evidence, of course); Watch the Hijabi Monologues performance in class; Watch/Listen to “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Adiche; Read poems by Mohja Kahf.

I hope to show how the paradigm of White heteronormative masculinity often perpetuates violence against women, non-whites and individuals who identify under non-heteronormative categories. These texts will also naturally cross with the influence of religion. I didn’t make this a primary focus, but I also hope to touch up on how various ideologies can lead individuals to feel empowered and at times alienated (and the pros and cons of that).

If any interesting primary text comes to mind (a shorter piece: e.g. short story, poetry, an excerpt, a video clip, a blog post) please feel free to let me know. I’ll be revising the syllabus until Sunday evening!

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5 thoughts on “What I’ll Teach This Quarter

  1. I was wondering if considered putting some bell hooks on your reading list. Her “Eating the other: Desire or resistance” is at the fore of my mind, and I think it might be a good addition to your material.

    • Hey, I hadn’t read that bell hooks article, actually. I’ll reveal the method behind the madness, though. Butler, Sedgwick and Anzaldua are in my MA reading list and fit quite well with the course them. So I figured that it would be a good practice to rehearse these readings with my class since it’s about the only place in academia that I experience a false sense of power and authority 😀 Thanks for the recommendation, though. I will be reading it the online copy as I think some parts of it may be useful for my exam, too.

  2. Faulkner, Hemingway, Butler and Atwood… some of my favourites. I wish I could take the course. Ever read Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity by Butler?

    • Actually, I have read Gender Trouble. But I think the piece I chose is a little more accessible for freshmen. It’s a good intro I think. I actually have to re-read Gender Trouble for my MA exam in May.

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