English 31AC

Literature of American Cultures: Growing Up Funny

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2019 Saha, Poulomi
MWF 9-10 note new location: 20 Barrows

Book List

Cisneros, Sandra: House on Mango Street; DuBois, W. E. B.: Souls of Black Folk; Truong, Monique: Bitter in the Mouth

Other Readings and Media

"Paris is Burning," Selections from Sherman Alexie, Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, among others.


America, we are told, is a nation of immigrants—of people from other lands who travel here and “become” American. That's a tall order. But what of those who can never quite belong—the misfits, outliers and strangers in this land that claims to welcome them all? What about those who, despite citizenship, resist inclusion? Moreover, what's it like to grow up, navigate the adventures and terrors of adolescence and young adulthood, as someone on the margins? 

In this course, we will look at novels, short stories, music and art from and about those who insistently remain strangers within America. We will examine the ways in which people who are excluded, whether legally or socially, negotiate relationships to the state and to a sense of Americanness. We will look at how they refuse, transgress, embrace and/or problematize their marginality—how they write themselves into or out of the nation. Beginning with slave narratives and moving into contemporary literature and art, we will think about how some outsiders—racial, sexual, and social—are able to move from the margins into the mainstream and how some never do.

This course satisfies UC Berkeley's American Cultures requirement.

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