English 370W/ WGS 345 Ann Cvetkovich Unique: 34970/48570

English 370W/ WGS 345
Unique: 34970/48570
Spring 2010
T-Th 11-12:15
Ann Cvetkovich
[email protected]
Parlin 323; 471-8374
Office Hours: T-Th 1:30-3
Gender, Sexuality, and Migration
The history and culture of the United States and the larger Americas have been
profoundly shaped by migrations: colonization by European peoples and the resulting
displacements of indigenous peoples; the African diaspora forced by slavery and the
Great Migration from South to North; the shifting and unstable border between the U.S.
and Mexico; the arrival through Ellis Island and other ports of Eastern and Southern
Europeans; the long and multiple histories of immigrants from East and South Asia; the
movement of gays and lesbians to urban centers; the arrival of refugees from war and
genocide; and contemporary transnational and diasporic connections with nations and
regions around the world. Although migration is sometimes represented as a threat to the
integrity of the nation, it is, in fact, at the center of it.
We will explore the impact of this history by reading contemporary literature
mostly by women, with particular attention to how migration is shaped by gender and
sexuality. We will consider how literature, with its attention to the relation between
personal and historical experience, provides an especially valuable document of migration
and intervenes in public discourse about it. The course will also provide students with an
opportunity to reflect critically on their own national identities as residents, and in some
cases, citizens of the U.S. – what does it mean, and what can it mean, to be “American”?
Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo
Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Monique Truong, The Book of Salt
Marjane Satrapi, The Complete Persepolis
Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach
Jamaica Kincaid, My Brother
Jhumpa Lahiri, from The Interpreter of Maladies (tentative)
Grading and Requirements:
(Note: +/- grading will be used for portfolio assessment and for the longer paper and
group presentation and the final grade will be averaged based on those grades.)
Writing Portfolio:
1) Statement of Goals; Mid-term Self Assessment; Final Self-Assessment
2) Discussion Questions posted to BB every other week
3) 4 short writing assignments: Personal Narrative;
History; Ethnography; Report on Outside Reading
Paper: Personal Narrative as Critical Essay
Group Presentation and Critical Reflection
Attendance and class participation
Week One January 19/21
Locating Ourselves: The Borderlands
Tuesday: Introduction
Thursday: Our Lady of Migration: The Virgin of Guadalupe
Gloria Anzaldua, from Borderlands/ La Frontera (handout)
Virgin of Guadalupe websites (including artist Alma Lopez at
www.almalopez.net) – access from course Blackboard site
Assignment: Post a brief introduction to the Discussion Board folder on Blackboard
Week Two January 26/28
Discussion Questions: Group 1 (Tues); Group 2 (Thurs)
Instructions: Pick one passage from the novel that interests you and explain why you
think it’s important.
Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo (first half)
Assignment: Statement of goals for writing portfolio.
(Hand in a hard copy to me on Thursday Jan 28 and keep a duplicate copy in your writing
Week Three February 2/4 Greater Mexico
Discussion Questions: Group 1
Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo (second half)
Writing Assignment 1: Personal Narrative Due Friday Feb 5 to BB
Week Four Feb 9/11
Discussion Questions: Group 2
Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (first half)
Week Five Feb 16/18
Discussion Questions: Group 1
Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (second half)
Writing Assignment 2: History Lessons Due Friday Feb 19 to BB
Week Six Feb 23/25
Queer Diasporas I
Discussion Questions: Group 2
Monique Truong, The Book of Salt (first half)
Week Seven Mar 2/4
Discussion Questions: Group 1
Monique Truong, The Book of Salt (second half)
Writing Assignment 3: Ethnography Due Friday March 5 to BB
Week Eight March 9/11
Discussion Questions: Group 1 (Note switch of order!)
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis 1
EVERYONE: Hand in Writing Portfolio with copies of all assignments by
Thursday March 11; Include mid-term self-assessment
Week Nine March 23/25
Discussion Questions: Group 2
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis 2 (second half)
Week Ten March 30/April 1
Discussion Questions: Group 1
Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach (first half)
Assignment 4: Report on Outside Reading Due Fri April 2 to BB
Week Eleven April 6/8
Discussion Questions: Group 2
Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach (second half)
Week Twelve April 13/15
Discussion Questions: Group 2 (Note switch of order!)
Jamaica Kincaid, My Brother
Final Essay: Personal Narrative as Critical Essay Due Friday April 16
(Hand in hard copy to my office)
Week Thirteen April 20/22
Jhumpa Lahiri, from Interpreter of Maladies (schedule permitting)
Work on group presentations
Week Fourteen April 27/29
Blackboard Post: Comments on group presentations, due dates TBA
Unfinished business and group presentations
Week Fifteen May 4/6
Blackboard Post: Comments on group presentations, due dates TBA
Group presentations; Wrap-up and Conclusions
Hand in finished portfolio with final self-assessment on Tuesday May 4
Post final self-assessment to BB
Critical Reflection on Group Presentation Due Monday May 10 (Hard copy to my office and by
Assignments and Policies
Attendance and Participation
Discussion is central to this class. In order to keep up with the class discussion
and the writing assignments, it is important not only that you come to class regularly but
that you come prepared. You should read carefully and think about what you are reading,
so that you can participate actively in the class. The class is small enough to allow for
discussion and your contributions can help to shape the direction of our inquiries.
We will use the class Blackboard site extensively. Please get into the habit of
checking the site frequently in order to read any announcements and your classmates’
contributions and to check out web sites related to the course materials.
If you have more than three absences without a reasonable excuse, you should not
expect to receive a grade higher than D for the course. Attendance and class participation
will be worth 20% of your final grade.
Writing Assignments
Writing Portfolio:
All the writing that you do for the course will become part of a portfolio. Your portfolio
will be evaluated not only for the quality of the individual assignments but for your
cumulative efforts over the course of the semester. Your portfolio should include hard
copies of all of your web assignments and your short papers. You will hand it in at the
mid-term (Thursday, March 11) and at the end of the semester (Tuesday May 4), and I
will also have individual conferences with you at the mid-term in order to discuss your
progress. The portfolio will also include statements about your goals for the class, a midterm assessment of your progress, as well as a final self-assessment and review of the
The goal of the writing portfolio and grading is for you to think about your work as an
ongoing learning process rather than a set of products. Your progress in the class will be
significantly defined by your own goals and thinking. Grading your work as a cumulative
portfolio complements the course’s focus on collaboration and community in the
The portfolio will be worth 40% of your grade; assignments will be graded on a
check+/check/check- basis and the portfolio will receive a cumulative letter grade based
on holistic assessment of quality of writing, quality of thinking, and timeliness. You will
have an opportunity to discuss your grade when we meet at mid-term, and you will also
do a self-assessment at the end of the semester.
Discussion Questions:
Every other week, you will post a short discussion question to Blackboard by
Monday at 9 pm about the readings assigned for that week. I will assign you to one of
two groups in the first week of classes; your specific deadlines for the assignments will
depend on what group you’re in.
You should think of these discussion questions as both an individual and
collective responsibility. Writing them will help you prepare for class discussion and for
the other assignments and develop your skills as a writer. They also provide an
opportunity for you to communicate your thinking to me and to the rest of the class and to
take the initiative in generating class discussion.
Because the posts are designed to help you think about the reading and prepare for
class, late posts will not be accepted. If you absolutely cannot post a question on time
due to unusual circumstances, please talk to me to arrange an alternative assignment. The
posts will be evaluated on a check+/check/check- basis as part of your portfolio grade.
Short Writing Assignments:
You will be required to complete a number of short writing assignments for the
class Blackboard site and your portfolio. These will include
1) a personal narrative;
2) a report on historical research;
3) an ethnographic report;
4) a report on outside reading.
See the accompanying handout for an overview of the assignments; you will receive more
detailed instructions as the semester proceeds. Generally, Blackboard posts will be due
by Friday at 5 pm.
Your contributions to the Blackboard site will be evaluated on a
check+/check/check- basis as part of your portfolio grade. If you do not complete the
assignments on time, your grade will be affected.
Final Essay: Personal Narrative as Critical Essay
As a culmination of your writing assignments, you will write a longer 5-7 page
personal narrative that builds on the work you have done in the other writing assignments.
The personal narrative should include some critical reflection on your own biography as
part of the histories and cultures we have been studying. It can also make reference to our
readings. The assignment will be due on Friday April 16). This final essay will be
worth 20% of your grade (and will be graded using +/- grades).
Group Presentation:
Towards the end the semester, you will begin work on a group presentation on a topic
related to the course. Depending on your skills and interests, you are welcome to use a
formats such as performance, video, Powerpoint, workshop, facilitated discussion, etc.
You will also write a brief critical reflection about the process of working on the group
presentation and what you have learned from it. Class presentations will take place in
the last two weeks of the semester, and the critical reflection will be due on Monday
May 10. The final project will be worth 20% of your grade (and will be graded using a
+/- system).
The final project gives you an opportunity to develop skills for working on a collaborative
project. It requires that you do some outside research and that you organize your work in
a series of stages. Please give some thought to your own goals for this project and how it
can best benefit you.
Accommodations for Students with Special Needs
I will provide any and all accommodations and support services for students who have
special needs identified by the Services for Students with Disabilities (471-6259). Please
see me as soon as possible so that the appropriate arrangements can be made.