English 141

Modes of Writing (Exposition, Fiction, Verse, etc.): Race, Creative Writing, and Difference

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2013 Giscombe, Cecil S.
TTh 2-3:30 88 Dwinelle

Book List

Ondaatje, Michael: Running in the Family; Yoshino, Kenji: Covering


This course is an inquiry into the ways that race is constructed in literary texts and a look-by-doing at our own practices as people engaged in creative writing.

The purpose of writing in this course is, broadly stated, to engage public language on one hand and personal (meaning specific) observations and experiences on the other.  The purpose of writing is not to come up with answers to the truly vexing problems of racism and economic and political disparity.  The purpose here is to pursue consciousness.  How one refers to race (one’s own as well as the races of others) is of paramount importance; the fact that there are ways in which American cultural institutions typically quantify and refer to race is of at least equal importance.

The writing vehicle will be, for the greatest part, the personal essay.  It’s a peculiar form related to fiction and to autobiography and to poetry.  We’ll likely read Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family, Audre Lorde’s Zami, and Kenji Yoshino’s Covering; we’ll read essays and stories by James Baldwin, Tess Schlesinger, Richard Ford, Jean Toomer, and others.  We’ll lean on Philip Lopate’s Art of the Personal Essay.

Writing assignments will be broad; that is, they will allow for a variety of responses.

This course is open to English majors only.

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