Race, Ethnicity, & Lit

In this
course, we will be examining literary representations of race, ethnicity and
indigeneity.  We will begin by mapping
out the ideological functions of popular and state representations of different
racial, ethnic, and indigenous groups, and then we will turn to the ways  that American Indian, African American, Asian
American, Kanaka ‘Ōiwi and
Maori writers write back against these representations.  We will be following social and political
movements, identifying the historical moments of intersection and divergence among
the civil rights movement, the American Indian Movement, the Black Power movement,
the Yellow Power movement, the Palaka Power movement and the Hawaiian
independence movement.  We will first
examine the ways that American Indian writers trace their genealogies back to
the land in ways that distinguish them as indigenous peoples.  By contrast, many other narratives emerged
from efforts in the 1960s to define racial and ethnic identities in community
struggles for civil rights.  We will then
map out the changing historical and political contexts that have transformed
representations of race, ethnicity and indigenity, partly out of literary
debates over power and representation.  At
the end of the semester, we will move beyond the continental United States to
think about what the implications of indigeneity are in the Pacific in places
like Hawai‘i and Aotearoa and its significance in ongoing people’s movements to
protect ancestral and agricultural land from development.  Throughout the course, we will be asking
ourselves questions about the alternative forms of narrative that writers use
to address their cultural and political concerns.


  • 3
    4-page papers
  • peer-editing
  • a
    final exam
  • attendance,
    and participation.

Required Texts
(available at Revolution Books
): Leslie Marmon
Silko, Storyteller;

Toni Morrison, Beloved; Alex Haley, ed., Autobiography
of Malcolm X
; Maxine Hong Kingston,  Woman Warrior; R. Zamora Linmark, Rolling the R’s; Haunani-Kay Trask, Light in the Crevice Never Seen; Patricia Grace, Potiki;. 
A required course reader may include works by Waziyatawin, Troy
Johnson, Alfred Taiaiake, Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Norma Alarcon,
Margaret Garner, Eric Yamamoto, Yuri Kochiyama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela
Davis, Barbara Christian, Dean Saranillio, Linda Revilla, King-Kok Cheung,
Frank Chin, Noelani Goodyear-Ka’ōpua,
Kehaulani Kauanui, Jonathan Okamura.  The
course reader will be available during the second week of classes.