English N135

Literature of American Cultures

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Summer 2011 Schweik, Susan
Schweik, Susan
MTuTh 4-6P 180 TAN

Other Readings and Media

Adams: Readings For Diversity & Social Justice; Barclay: Melal; Gray-Garcia: Criminal Of Poverty; Moraga: Heroes & Saints & Other Plays; Ali: The Domestic Crusaders; Yu: Third Class Superhero; Parks: Venus; Yamamoto: Seventeen Syllables And Other Stories; Okubo: Citizen 13660


This course will analyze the categories of “disability,” “race” and “ethnicity” critically. “Disability” as an identity category is always raced, whether we attend to that intersection or not, and people defined in racial terms are also always placed on axes of disability and ability, well and ill, normal and abnormal, malformed and well-formed. Much work on that ambiguous umbrella term “disability” treats disabled people as ungendered (that is, male), unraced (that is, white), without nationality that is, native-born American but barely a citizen), and unsexualized (that is, heterosexual, but only in default). My aim in this course is to set up situations in which you can think about several of these categories simultaneously in the context of American cultures present and past.

To this end, we will take several familiar cultural figures as case studies: freaks, beggars, victims and parents/children. Each of these situations illustrates how racism and ableism have intertwined (along with class issues) in American (dis)ability cultures. A variety of guest speakers, including performance artists and activists, will visit us, and we’ll view a series of films.

Requirements:  Written requirements: two papers and a final exam.

Note that this class satisfies U.C. Berkeley's American Cultures requirement.

This course is taught in Session D, July 5 to August 12.

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