Intro to Lit: Culture & Lit

Women of Color Writers

Write with your tongues of fire. 
Donʻt let the pen banish you from yourself. 
Donʻt let the ink coagulate in your pens.      
Don’t let the censor snuff out the spark, nor the gags muffle your voice. 
Put your shit on the paper.
– Gloria Anzaldúa,
“Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to 3rd World Women Writers”

Course Description

            Creation is the opposite of violence. Throughout history, Women of Color have suffered disproportionate cycles of erasure and violence, including sexual assault, incarceration, environmental racism, workplace discrimination, forced sterilization, state-sponsored disappearance, and murder. This course intentionally claims creative space for the stories of Women of Color writers. Issues of land, sovereignty, race, class, sexuality, and kinship are prioritized in an intersectional consideration of gender. Indeed this course will be guided by the transformative power of intersectional feminism. As Black feminist and multimedia scholar Alexis Pauline Gumbs explains, “[T]he transformation of information and communication into access, power, community and visionary practice” is a major strategy of survival.[1] Thus we will develop critical, ethical, and imaginative approaches to the many acts of literature we encounter this semester. We will engage a variety of genres, including poetry, fiction, and academic scholarship. Please keep in mind that this curriculum is gestural at best; the offering of writers and texts is no way exhaustive.

Student Learning Objectives

In the context of Women of Color writers, mainly in Hawaiʻi, Oceania, and the continental United States, this course is designed to help you do the following:

  • identify genealogies of these writers from the 1970s to the present.
  • discuss the concept of intersectionality as it applies to these literatures.
  • examine decisions made by these writers on content, craft, form, and audience in specifical historical contexts.
  • compare links between literary practices, cultural production, and identity formation.
  • practice critical self-reflection and analytical thinking through the writing process, incuding prewriting, drafting, and revising.
  • evaluate how writing is used as a form of community building and political action.

Required Course Materials

  • Monica Ong, Silent Anatomies
  • Toni Morrison, Bluest Eye
  • Sia Figiel, Where We Once Belonged
  • All other readings will be available as PDFs or hyperlinks on our class Laulima site
  • Regular access to the Internet and online accounts for Laulima
  • Technology for recording oral history interview(s) and World-Making Letter excerpt

Major Assignments

  • Three unit papers (five pages, double-spaced plus a Works Cited page)
  • Weekly Forum Posts on Laulima
  • Oral History Narrative

[1] Gumbs, Alexis Pauline. “Seek the Roots: An Immersive and Interactive Archive of Black Feminist Practice,” Feminist Collections v. 32, no. 1, 2011. 17-20.