ENG 345: Literature of Ethnic Minorities in the U.S.

University of Nevada, Reno

English 345 – Literature of Ethnic Minorities in the U.S.

(General Capstone and Diversity course)

July 15-Aug 15, 2013: Mon/Tues/Wed/Thurs, 10:10-12:10 FH 108

Instructor: Mrs. Jennifer Forsberg

Office: Frandsen 024

Office Phone: 775-682-6377

Email: j.h.forsberg@gmail[dot]com

Office Hours: Monday and Tuesdays 12:15–1:15pm, or by appointment

Course Description:

In this course, we will examine, analyze, and discuss various genres of literature of ethnic groups within the American population. Through our readings, writing, and discussions, you will enhance your writing and critical thinking skills.

Course Outcomes:

After completing this course, you should be able to

  • Write a coherent, well-supported argument with a clear thesis, relevant claims, and compelling use of evidence about ethnic minority literature in the U.S.
  • Read, interpret, and analyze primary source texts with attention to thematic content, historical and cultural context, and language
  • Develop an understanding of how members of minority groups in the U.S. have used literary and artistic expression to represent their own experiences
  • Examine the ways in which race, class, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality intersect to create complicated realities
  • Engage others in ongoing conversations about the minority experience in the U.S.

Required Course Materials: (in hard copy)

Primary Texts:

      Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

      The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

      Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

      Tropic of Orange by Karen Tei Yamashita

      Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

      Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

Secondary Texts (Available to download and print from Webcampus)


Course Assignments and Evaluation:                        

Participation and Attendance:                                                            25%

To earn credit, you must attend class, read the assigned texts, and be prepared for class discussion including having hard copies of your assignments and the texts. Your thoughts and insights are expected and are important to the success of this class. Meaningful discussion will be expected and will positively affect your grade. There may be random quizzes and homework assignments in addition to the readings given throughout the semester that will count toward your final grade. If you fail to bring the daily reading assignment and/or writing materials to class, you may lose all participation points for the day. COME PREPARED.

Reading Responses:                                                                          30%

 For each major text you will construct a short, 250 word reading response. This response should select a small part of the text to construct an argument about. In these responses, you need to make a compelling claim supported by a close reading of a significant passage or scene. These responses will be due at the end of the class meeting we discuss the text. These must be in hard copy and MLA format.

Current Event Presentations:                                                          5% each

Twice during the semester, you will be asked to present a current event and lead a short discussion. These current events activities aim to expose our discussions to real-life and contemporary issues of ethnicity in America. With your facilitation, the class will discuss critical concerns regarding such current events and attempt to relate them to our readings, critical models and topics of interest.

There is no formal write up necessary, but you should be well versed in your current event (from a print source, either internet or hard copy), be able to provide the general details, source, and attempt to relate it to the class. Have a critical question or concern for the class to begin the discussion with.

Author/Text Presentations:                                                           10%

These presentations will require a little Internet searching. Look at various websites, including Wikipedia, to get a feel for the figure’s background and work. So long as you cite your sources, any source is fair game. You will need to create a handout that is at least 1 page in length, but does not exceed 2 (front and back). Bring copies for the class. Note: We will sign up for presentations on day 1. Text presentations will only occur as needed based on enrollment.

Author Presentation Scope: Brief biography; Works written, genre; Key issues or topics; Audience reception overall; Known for…, and anything else you stumble upon that seems important.

Text Presentation Scope: Publication history; Audience/critical reception; General or overall argument; goal of the text; Criticisms or controversy; Popularity (do people talk about it and what do they say?), and anything else you stumble upon that seems pertinent to understanding the text.

Final Essay:                                                                                 25%

There will be one essay, 1300-1500 words (5-7 pages), due on the final day of the class.  While you choose the topic, you should meet with me to discuss your paper. We will have required conferences in week 3 and opportunity in class to discuss the development of your paper.

Course Policies:

Attendance: Missing more than two classes can result in failure of the course.

Late work: No late assignments will be accepted. Get the phone number of at least two of your classmates. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to contact a classmate and not me to find out about missed assignments or what may be due at the start of the next class. I will expect you to fully catch up with assignments and readings prior to the start of class. If you added the class late, you are responsible for all readings and assignments that were due before you added.

Remember, early communication with me will only benefit you. I am available to answer any questions about your assignments or with content you are struggling with.

Classroom decorum: You are expected to enter class on time and be prepared with assignments, readings, and discussion for that day. You are not to use any electronic devices in the classroom, including cell phones or personal computers without approval.

In-class discussion: It is my class commitment to establish a safe space for differing voices and opinions.  In this course, your input through discussion is a vital and valued must.  Discrimination, harassment, or intimidation will not be tolerated.  All students have the right to a classroom free from hostility, ridicule, or embarrassment, and an atmosphere conducive to learning. Any conduct that disrupts the learning process may lead to loss of participation points and/or administrative disciplinary action mandated under the University’s Student Code of Conduct.

Disability accommodations: If you have a documented disability and will be requiring assistance, please contact the Disability Resource Center at 784-6000 (Thompson Building Suite 101) as soon as possible to arrange for appropriate accommodations.

Academic dishonesty: All work you do for this class must be your own. “Cheating, plagiarism, or otherwise obtaining grades under false pretenses” constitute academic dishonesty according to the code of the University. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and penalties may include cancelling a student’s enrollment without a grade or giving an F for the assignment or the course. A more detailed discussion of UNR’s policies is available online: http://www.unr.edu/stsv/acdispol.html. We will work on proper citing of quotations, paraphrasing, and sources in this class, and if are unsure about whether or how to properly cite sources, please ask me.

Statement for academic success services:  Your student fees cover usage of the University Writing Center (784-6030 or http://www.unr.edu/writing_center/).  This center supports your classroom learning; it is your responsibility to take advantage of their services. Keep in mind that seeking help outside of class is the sign a responsible and successful student.

Statement on audio and video recording:  Surreptitious or covert video-taping of class or unauthorized audio recording of class is prohibited by law and by Board of Regents policy.  This class may be videotaped or audio recorded only with the written permission of the instructor.   In order to accommodate students with disabilities, some students may be given permission to record class lectures and discussions.  Therefore, students should understand that their comments during class may be recorded.


*Readings and tasks to be completed for that day’s discussion

**I reserve the right to change the schedule. Should this happen, you will be notified in advance via WebCampus or email.

Week 1:                                                                      July 15th


Task: Introduction to class, syllabus; Sign up for presentations. “Diversity Day” The Office

Read: Booker T Washington “Address to Atlanta Exposition” (copy in class)


Task: DuBois Presentation; Dave Chapelle “Open Racism”

Read: DuBois Souls of Black Folk Ch 1-3 (given in class Monday)


Task: Ellison Presentation; “Mandingo Exposition” Django Unchained

Read: Invisible Man Part 1 (Chapters 1-9)


Task: Invisible Man presentation; Invisible Man Reading Response Due

Read: Invisible Man Part 2 (Chapters 10-18)

Week 2:                                                                              July 22nd


Task: New Negro Debates in Invisible Man

Read: Finish Invisible Man Part 3 (Chapters 19-End)


Task: Understanding Ethnicity in America; Lidia Celebrates America video

Read: Kallen “Democracy Versus the Melting Pot” (PDF pages 2-10; Part 1, Sections I-IV)


Task: Silko Presentation; Anzaldua Presentation

Read: Ceremony part 1 (pages 1-152); Anzaldua “Wild Tongue” (all)



Task: Ceremony Presentation; Ceremony Reading Response Due

Read: Finish Ceremony part 2 (pages 152-End)

Week 3:                                                                              July 29th


Task: Anaya Presentation, Bless Me, Ultima Presentation, Bless Me, Ultima Reading Response due

Read: Bless Me, Ultima (all); Anaya “Silence of the Llano” (pages 47-57)


Task: George Lopez Stand Up; Current Events Presentations; Lowe Presentation; Margaret Cho

Read: Lowe “Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity” (pages 508-515)


Task: Kingston Presentation, Woman Warrior presentation; Woman Warrior Reading Response due; Disney’s Mulan

Read: Woman Warrior selections (“No Name Woman,” “White Tigers,” and “Shaman”)


Task: Conferences about final paper. Meet at assigned time with a copy of your outline.

Week 4:                                                                             August 5th


Task: Yamashita Presentation

Read: Tropic of Orange part 1 (pages 1-134; Sections Monday through Wednesday)


Task: Final paper draft workshop. Bring at least 3 pages to workshop in groups; bring 2 copies.


Task: Tropic of Orange Reading Response

Read: Tropic of Orange part 2 (pages 135-End; Sections Thursday through Sunday)


Task: Current Events Presentations; No Reservations Los Angeles

Read: Mermann-Jozwiak “Post-National Spaces” (pages 2-12)

Week 5:                                                                       August 12th


Task: Foer Presentation; Everything is Illuminated Presentation; Film Selections

Read: Everything is Illuminated part 1 (pages 1-145); Cohen “Everything is Not Illuminated” (all)


Task: Everything is Illuminated Reading Response Due; Gogol Bordello “Immigrant Punk”

Read: Finish Everything is Illuminated part 2 (pages 146-End; Chapter Falling in Love-End)


Task: Discuss Ethnicity in the Media; Trends in current events; Hebrew Hammer


Task: Turn in Final Paper