English 31AC

Literature of American Cultures: Immigrant Inscriptions

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2015 Ellis, Nadia
TTh 11-12:30 220 Wheeler

Book List

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi: Americanah; Diaz, Junot: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Fukunaga, Cary (dir.): Sin Nombre; Kazan, Elia (dir.): Gentleman's Agreement; Kincaid, Jamaica: Lucy; Lee, Chang-Rae: Native Speaker; Robbins and Wise (dirs.): West Side Story;

Recommended: Martinez, Oscar: The Beast

Other Readings and Media

Short fiction by Edwidge Danticat, Jonathan Lethem, and Jhumpa Lahiri as well as contextualizing works of history, sociology, and cultural criticism.


In this course we will consider a variety of texts—contemporary fiction, classic and new film, journalism, history, and cultural criticism—that help us explore the possibilities for writing the migrant self and experience. The shifting terrain of race in the United States, shifts that occur in part because of successive waves of migration here, complicates how migrant experience can be imagined and represented. We will discuss this shifting terrain in an effort to understand more deeply the context within which immigrant experiences can be rendered. And we will analyze the dynamic ways in which artists respond to the complexities of race and the sometimes painful complications of migration.

This course satisfies UC Berkeley's American Cultures requirement.

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