English C136

Topics in American Studies: The Fields: California Farmworker Literature

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2017 Gonzalez, Marcial
TTh 2-3:30 240 Bechtel

Book List

Castillo-Guilbault, Rose: Farmworker's Daughter; Garcia, Diana: When Living Was a Labor Camp; Gonzalez, Rigoberto: Crossing Vines; Neuburger, Bruce: Lettuce Wars; Plascencia, Salvador: The People of Paper; Soto, Gary: Jesse; Soto, Gary: The Elements of San Joaquin; Viramontes, Helena Maria: Under the Feet of Jesus

Other Readings and Media

Films: Alambrista; and Fighting for Our Lives


This course will focus on the lives and struggles of Mexican farm workers in California as represented in Chicano/a literature from the 1970s to the early twentieth-first century—or roughly the period that coincides with the rise of neoliberalism as a dominant politico-economic system in Western capitalism.  We’ll consider the ways that the daily struggles and political movements of Mexican farmworkers link Chicano/a history and culture to immigration law, state repression, racialization, gender discrimination, class exploitation, and the expansive power of transnational agricultural corporations—in short, to the building of empire and global capitalism.  All of the literary works that we’ll study in this course document or dramatize these links either thematically or formally.  We’ll also read several essays on history and literary criticism to contextualize the literature, and we’ll view two or three films.  Required assignments will include a midterm, a class presentation, and two papers.

This course is cross-listed with American Studies C111E section 1.

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