English C136

Topics in American Studies: Literature and History of Mexican American Farm Workers

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2010 Gonzalez, Marcial
Gonzalez, Marcial
TTh 11-12:30 Note new location: 170 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

Castillo Guilbault, R.: Farmworker's Daughter: Growing Up Mexican in America; Treviño Hart, E.: Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Girl; Moraga, C.: Watsonville: Some Place Not Here; Rivera, T.: The Complete Works of Tomás Rivera; Soto, G.: Jesse; Viramontes, H.: Under the Feet of Jesus; Galarza, E.: Farm Workers and Agri-business in California, 1947-1960; González, G.: Consuls and Labor Organizing: Imperial Politics in the American Southwest; Shaw, R.: Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century; Weber, D.: Dark Sweat, White Gold: California Farm Workers, Cotton and the New Deal


In this course we will study the social movements, political aspirations, and literary expressions of Mexican American farm workers in the U.S. during the twentieth century, focusing on the period from 1930 to 1990. The methodological approach will be interdisciplinary as our reading list will include both history and literature. We will also watch films and examine photographs. The social movements of Mexican farm workers in the U.S. hold a symbolically significant place in Chicano history and literature. We will strive to understand these movements not as romanticized stories of the downtrodden, but as narratives of class conflict and strategic class positioning in both local and global settings. The stories of farm worker struggles in the U.S. link Chicano history to the profit needs of transnational agricultural corporations, immigration law, state repression, racialization, and class power—in short, to the building of empire and global capitalism. The works studied in this course document or dramatize these links from various perspectives. The amount of reading will be substantial. Required assignments will include a midterm, a class presentation, and two papers.

This course is cross-listed with American Studies C111E.

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