ETHS 360: Cultural Dialogue & Ethnic Literatures
T Th 12:35pm - 1:50 pm
Professor Catrióna Rueda Esquibel
Office: Ethnic Studies Ethnic Studies & Psychology 411
Office Hours: Tuesdays 3:00 - 4:30 and by appointment
Course Website: ilearn.sfsu.edu
ilearn is a new course
management system for online course support (readings, grading,
discussion lists, etc). Go to the ilearn homepage
login using your university id and
password. This should show you the ilearn component for all classes in
which you're enrolled. Click on our course number and that will
you to the class website. You can download readings from the file
section, post comments on the discussion lists, coordinate group work,
etc. I'll be recording assignments, grades, et cetera on the
so that you can get feedback in a timely fashion.
Official Course Description for ETHS 360:
Ethnic literature as a comparative dialogue between cultures, in
relation to other forms of artistic expressions, and within the context
of the humanities, cultural patterns, aesthetic experiences, and
Specific description of our course:
This class is an introduction to the diversity of literature by US
people of color; immigrants, sojourners, refugees, African Americans,
Asian Americans, Chicanas/os, Latinos/as, and Native Americans.
We will be studying the works of authors and the characters they write
about: from those who come to America to those whose land shifts
beneath their feet, from Korea, to Hispaniola, to Los Angeles, and the
Channel Islands, working-class, middle class, urban and rural, fathers,
mothers, daughters, and sons, heterosexuals, gays, lesbians, two-spirit
peoples, first generation, third generation, sixth generation, and all
the spaces in between. These exciting and powerful works, are
read and studied in the US and internationally.
I. Course Goals
- To introduce students to literature by and about People of Color
- To familiarize students with issues of representation of
People of Color in both mainstream and independent cultural production.
- To contextualize this literature in relation to historical and
II. Course Objectives
- read a variety of different authors and
literatures by writers of diverse racial and ethnic groups in the US
- learn important themes in the literature
- participate in class discussions
- conduct library research on history and literature
- write critically about the literature
- write creatively about the literature
III. Required texts:
- Toni Morrison, Beloved
- Leslie Marmon Silko, Gardens in the Dunes
- Nora Okja Keller, Comfort Woman
- Hector Tobar, The Tattooed Soldier
In addition, each student is required to choose one of the optional
texts for group research and presentation:
- Khaled Hosseini, The Kite
- Laila Halaby, West of the
- Edwidge Danticat, The Farming
- Fae Ng, Bone
- James Welch, Fools Crow
- John Okada, No-No Boy
- Luis Urrea, The Hummingbird's
- Gloria Naylor, Mama Day
Additional readings will be available online through ilearn or
- Teresa Palomo Acosta, "My Mother Pieced Quilts"
- Melvin Dixon, "Aunt Ida Pieces a Quilt"
- Alice Walker, "Everyday Use"
- Selections from Uncle Tom's
Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
- Selections from The Last of
the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
- Langston Hughes, selected poems
- Arturo Islas, selections from La
Mollie and the King of Tears
- Sister Dianna Ortiz, selections from The Blindfold's Eyes
- Helena María Viramontes, "The Cariboo Café"
- Selections from Emails from
Scheherazad, Mohja Kahf
- Selections from Somewhere Else,
- Selections from Medicine of
Memory by Alejandro Murguia
IV. Course Requirements:
Attendance & Participation: 10 points
Weekly assignments (including journals, blogging, quizzes): 10 points
Midterm: 25 points
Final Exam: 30 points
Group Presentation: 25 points
Attendance and Participation in
class discussions is an important element of this
class. If you're not here, you can't participate. Missing three
or more classes will adversely affect your grade.
Appropriate behavior in the classroom includes:
Weekly assignments: We will be
doing creative, interpretive and analytical exercises in relation to
readings. For the first few class sessions, I have assigned
specific writing prompts. You may follow the prompts or chart
your own path. You should strive for writing about 500
words (equivalent of two typewritten pages) every week.
- Showing respect for all participants
- Respecting the work we do in the classroom (no disruptive
behaviors, cell phones, sleeping, skipping out on films, showing up
- Completing all assigned readings in advance of class
- Supporting and encouraging the writing and expression of fellow
students, pushing them to go further
The Midterm and Final Exams will
include identification of characters
and elements from the readings and films, short-answer questions, and
essays. These are closed-book exams.
Note: You must bring a blue examination book for each exam.
The final four class sessions will consist of student-led presentations
on the four optional novels. Attendance at these four classes is
mandatory. Part of your grade is based on your active
participation in the other groups' presentations.
Each presentation will involve research on the historical context of
the novel, the author, critical reception, and intertextual
relationships between and among texts. For example, Comfort Woman and No-No Boy present dramatically
different images of World War II, and both show important histories
erased by mainstream representations. The student group
presenting on No-No Boy will
want to address the history of the period, previous restrictions on
Japanese immigration and naturalization, Executive Order 9066, the
relocation camps, anti-Japanese attitudes, and how the relocation camp
experiences affected Japanese Americans' relationship to the US.
How have the books been received critically? For example, Linda Hogan's
novel Mean Spirit depicts a
series of murders against the Osage in the early twentieth
century. In discussing the critical reception of the article, it
would be important to note Robert Allen Warrior's argument that Hogan's
novel shifts from an Osage-specific history to a pan-Indian portrayal.
One approach would be to envision the presentation as preparation for
teaching the novel in a high school setting: how would you use history
to introduce the novel? How would you use the novel to teach history?
What other sources would be important to bring in? What kind of
assignment would you design for the students?
Finally, each presentation must include an exam question
(identification, short answer, or essay) for our own class. Your
presentation must have provided everything your classmates need to get
an A on your question. Thus, by actively participating in the
last four classes of the semester, you are guaranteed to get eight
questions correct on the final exam.
You may earn additional points as listed below. All extra credit work
is due no later than the last day of class. Minimum length for
prose: 750 words (three full typed pages)
- Attend a reading by a relevant author and write a response. I'll
try to alert you to these. Example: Matt Shenoda will be reading from
his book of poetry, Somewhere Else
on September 29, 7:30 p.m. at Modern Times Bookstore on Valencia.
- Conduct an oral history of an elder whose experience is relevant
to the readings or course themes
- Write short fiction representing people and experiences relevant
to the course themes.
- Read one of the other optional novels for the class and write a
- Write poetry related to the class
V. GE Requirements
This class fulfills a Segment II Humanities and Creative Arts Area
requirement, (HCA), Category B: Disciplines and Interdisciplines.
In the humanities and arts curriculum, students are urged to explore
fundamental questions regarding human values, aesthetics, and
expression. It is dedicated to stimulating reflective thinking,
imagination, and creativity; to increasing civic and global
responsibility; to cultivating moral action; and to building the
communication skills needed to express the best of what it means to be
human. (SFSU Bulletin 2005-06, 96).
VI. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accommodation:
The University is committed to providing reasonable academic
accommodation to students with disabilities. The Disability
Programs and Resources Center provides university academic support
services and specialized assistance to students with disabilities.
Individuals with physical, perceptual, or learning disabilities as
addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact
Services for Students with Disabilities for information regarding
accommodations. Please notify your instructor so that reasonable
efforts can be made to accommodate you. If you expect
Accommodation through the Act, you must make a formal request through
Disability Programs & Resource Center in SSB110, Telephone
VII. Statement on Cheating and Plagiarism
Cheating is the actual or attempted practice of fraudulent or deceptive
acts for the purpose of improving one's grade or obtaining course
credit; such acts also include assisting another student to do so.
Typically, such acts occur in relation to examinations. However,
it is the intent of this definition that the term "cheating" not be
limited to examination situation only, but that it include any and all
actions by a student that are intended to gain an unearned academic
advantage by fraudulent or deceptive means.
Plagiarism is a specific form of cheating which consists of the misuse
of the published and/or unpublished works of others by misrepresenting
the material (intellectual property) so used as one's own work.
Penalties for cheating and plagiarism range from 0 or F on a particular
assignment, through F for the course, to expulsion from the
university. For more information on the University's policy
regarding cheating and plagiarism, refer to the University Catalog
("Policies and Regulations").
This syllabus is subject to change as necessary. Any additional
policies are covered in the SFSU bulletin.
Week One - Introductions
Thursday, August 25: Introduction of Course Themes, Syllabus, Student
Introductions, "Introducing Us to Culture": How have dominant society's
definition of "Art" "Literature" and "Culture" shaped our relationship
to the Arts and Humanities? What is Literary?
online: Login to ilearn and edit your profile,
including an introduction and a photo. Due: by Monday 11:59 pm
Read for next class:
Teresa Palomo Acosta, "My
Mother Pieced Quilts"
Melvin Dixon, "Aunt Ida Pieces a Quilt"
Alice Walker, "Everyday Use"
Week Two - Art and Artifact
Tuesday, August 30:
Discussion: quilts as history, art, artifact
Thursday, September 1:
Film: Toni Morrison (1987, 51 minutes)
Week Three - African American Women and Racialized Motherhood
Tuesday, September 6: selections from Uncle Tom's Cabin
Thursday, September 8: Beloved Part 1
Tuesday, September 13: Beloved Part 2
Thursday, September 15: Beloved Part 3
Week Five - "Vanishing Americans," "The End of the Trail" and other
Erasures of Native America
Tuesday, September 20: US policies toward Native Americans: Genocide,
Selections from The Last of the
Film: Imagining Indians
Thursday, September 22:
Gardens in the Dunes, Part
Tuesday, September 27: Gardens in the Dunes, Part 2
Film: The West: Ghost Dance
Thursday, September 29: Gardens in the Dunes, Part 3
Tuesday, October 4: Gardens in the Dunes, Part 4
Thursday, October 6: Midterm Exam
Tuesday, October 11: Film: Breaking the Silence: Korean Comfort Women
Thursday, October 13: Comfort Woman, Part 1
Tuesday, October 18: Comfort Woman, Part 2
Thursday, October 20: Comfort Woman, Part 3
Tuesday, October 25:
Lecture: Civil War in Guatemala, The Citizen Subject,
Neutrality in the New World
Film: The Long Road Home
Thursday, October 27:
Discussion: Sister Dianna Ortiz, Chapter 1, Chapter 3,
Chapter 4 from The Blindfold's Eyes
Tuesday, November 1: The Tattooed Soldier
Thursday, November 3: The Tattooed Soldier
Tuesday, November 8: The Tattooed Soldier
Thursday, November 10: Helena Maria Viramontes "The Cariboo Cafe"
Film: Discovering Dominga
Tuesday, November 15: Group meetings with Instructor, Collaborative
work on fifth novel
Thursday, November 17: Group meetings with Instructor, Collaborative
work on fifth novel
Tuesday, November 22, Group meetings with Instructor, Collaborative
work on fifth novel
Thursday, November 24, NO CLASSES
Tuesday, November 29: Student Presentations: No-No Boy, The Farming of
Thursday, December 1: Student Presentations: Fools Crow, Mama Day
Tuesday, December 6: Student Presentations: Bone, West of the Jordan
Thursday, December 8: Student Presentations: The Kite Runner, The
Final Exam Period
Tuesday, December 13,