Introduction to U.S. Minority Literature: Black and Latin@ Queer Performance

Course Number: ENGL 50
Prerequisites: None
General Education Areas Fulfilled: GE Area G Requirement, Writing Requirement, Ethnicity Requirement
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 50
Quarter: Summer A 2013
Instructor:
Day(s): MTWR
Time: 12:30 PM - 1:55 PM
Location: NH 1109
Description:

This survey course will take as its starting point the multicultural mythologies and institutional exclusions underlining the designation “minority” literature as such. Students will develop vital and nuanced critical language for talking about the interarticulation of race, nation, gender, and sexuality in a U.S. cultural imaginary that often imagines itself as being “beyond” identity categories as significant vectors of analysis. We will complicate attempts to stabilize and compartmentalize identity – instead examining the elasticity, discursiveness, and historical situatedness of embodiment. While the course begins with a careful consideration of the operation of heteropatriarchal white supremacist power, our examination of literary and cultural forms will provide a theoretical framework for understanding how embodied subjects and agents produce new forms of knowledge and ways of being in the world that are never simply reactive to existing structures of oppression. In other words, the intersectional crossroads of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality shape, undo, and reform modes of meaning-making. Moving away from the representational model of literature, we will look at the ways in which texts actively negotiate and powerfully transform social realities.  

Our primary readings will introduce Black and Latin@ queer performance traditions from the 1920s to the present. Our survey of performance genres, theatrical productions, and dramatic forms will include: plays, choreopoems, performance novels, digital performance, and music. Selected playwrights and artists include: James Baldwin, Laurie Carlos, Ntozake Shange, Cherríe Moraga, Sharon Bridgforth, Josefina Báez, Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0, Micha Cárdenas, and The Lost Bois. We will supplement our readings of primary works with critical race and ethnic studies, always attentive to the material weight of history. A significant component of the class includes music and performance poetry. In particular, we will examine rich sites of cross-racial pan-ethnic organization between Black and Latin@ artists and activists in developing new social logics and performance practices. Students will be encouraged to engage with the texts collaboratively using creative as well as analytic tools.