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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Teaching Rambles: A Very Non-Traditional "American" Lit Syllabus (Nuevo Mundo!)

This fall, I am teaching a survey course in American Literature.  While I think my previous syllabi for this course have been non-traditional, this time I am opening up the flood gates.  Instead of teaching what we might call "American Literature," I am deliberately challenging the very idea of a single, identifiable "American" anything.  And if I get this syllabus approved, I will have one of the most intense, awesome fall teaching experiences ever...

Now without further delay, here is the list of texts I intend to teach (some publication dates are missing):
A Hammock Beneath the Mangoes: Stories from Latin America edited by Thomas Cochlie (various -- see shorts section)
The Assault by Reinaldo Arenas (1990/1992 -- Expatriate from Cuba)
Flight by Sherman Alexie (2007 -- Native American) 
Distant Star by Robert Bolaño (1996/2004 -- Chile)
Crick Crack Monkey by Merle Hodge (1970 -- Trinidad)
Surfacing by Margaret Atwood (1972 -- Canada) 
The President by Miguel Angel Asturias (1946 -- Guatemala)

"Paint Your Face on a Drowning in the River" by Craig Strete (1984 -- Native American)
The Imposter by Rodolfo Usigli (1938 -- Mexico)

Short Stories
"The Man to Send Rainclouds" by Leslie Marmon Silko (1967 -- Native American)
"The Reptile Garden" by Louise Erdrich (2008 -- Native American)
"A Long Story" by Beth Brant (1985 -- Native American)
"A Lamp at Noon" by Sinclair Ross (1938 -- Canada)
"The Loons" by Margaret Laurence (1963 -- Canada)
"The Circular Ruins" by Jorge Luis Borges (1940 -- Argentina)
"Waiting for Polidoro" by Armonia Somers (? -- Uruguay)
"The Last Voyage of the Ghost by Gabriel García Márquez (? -- Columbia)
"The Age of Vengeance" by Isabel Allende (? -- Chile)
"The Doll Queen" by Carlos Fuentes (? -- Mexico)
"The Plagues" by Moacyr Scliar (? -- Brazil)
"Story-Bound" by Ana Lydia Vega (? -- Puerto Rico)
"The Gift" by Rosario Ferre (? -- Puerto Rico)
"Journey Back to the Source" by Alejo Carpentier (? -- Cuba)

"The Repeating Island" by Antonio Benitez-Rojo (Caribbean)
"In Quest of an American Identity" by Earl E. Fitz (American Question)
"Regionalism as a Shaping Force" by Earl E. Fitz (American Question)
"The Dialectics of Our America" by Jose David Saldivar (American Question)


Update:  I thought I'd toss out some statistics so you'd see how my syllabus holds up in terms of its gender split, etc.

Male authors:  13 (fiction); 4 (non-fiction)
Female authors: 9 (fiction)

In all honestly, I had a hell of a time trying to find female authors in Central and South America who fit all my criteria.  I intentionally tried to avoid pre-1900 and post-2000 works, though there are a handful here.  That unfortunately meant that a lot of the important Central and South American female writers (at least from my research) got bumped out.  From there, it all went downhill, as almost every female author from that region either didn't have anything in translation, their works didn't fit the political/cultural/social concerns for my course, or the translations I could find were for novels that were too darn long.  I think the longest novel I have on my list is 287 pages.  One author I had to drop from the novel list was Isabel Allende, whose The House of the Spirits is over 400 pages long.  I selected a short story by her instead.

I say all of this as a semi-plea to any of you who are familiar with the literature of the area.  In particular, I would like to include a few women from Central America (you can see I have none whatsoever).  I just can't seem to find any of them, either because they don't exist, have been ignored, or haven't been translated.  Granted, I could be very wrong.

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