English R1A

Reading and Composition: The Muslim-American Experience

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2018 Rajabzadeh, Shokoofeh
MW 5-6:30 89 Dwinelle

Book List

The Autobiography of Malcolm X ; Amanat, Sana: Ms. Marvel ; Mohsin, Hamid: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Other Readings and Media

Episodes from Master of None; Hasan Minhaj's Homecoming King; music videos, such as "Hijabi (Wrap my Hijab)" by Mona Haydar; music by Alia Sharrief; blogs, such as The Muslim Girl.


"Why can't I have my interpretation where I'm just nice and eat pork? For you guys, religion has this cultural value. It's not like that for me. It's people calling me terrorist and getting pulled out of security lines." - Master of None, "Religion" 

In the episode of Master of None titled “Religion,” Aziz Ansari argues that his parents’ experience of being Muslim in America as vastly different from his own. For his parents, Muslim has “cultural value.” It is about community. For Ansari, it is the precise opposite— it is an experience of alienation from the community Ansari yearns to belong to.

In this course, we will read, study, and interrogate representations of the Muslim experience of America. Questions we will consider include: How do Muslim-Americans represent their identities? How do Muslims convey the disempowerment they experience as they face Islamophobia? How do they capture their resistance to racism, nativisim, and Islamophobia in their artistic, literary, musical, or political expressions? How do they inscribe racism or sexism in those same representations?  

Material will include lyrics from Muslim hip-hop artists, an anthropological study of black Muslim hip-hop, a graphic novel with a Muslim superhero, Instagram feeds, TV shows, short stories, political speeches, and a novel.

Please note this is neither a Religious Studies course, nor a History course. While we may engage material from the past or religious criticism, we do so only to understand how those texts work as social criticism—artistically and rhetorically. 

The goal of this course is two-fold: Firstly, its aim is to help you develop and strengthen your close reading and critical thinking skills as we examine the entanglement of religion, race, ethnicity, and gender in the representations of the Muslim-American experience. And secondly, the course aims to help you develop the ability to craft your analyses into clear and effective analytical writing through drafts, revisions, peer-review feedback, and weekly writing exercises.

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