Introduction to Literature: Ethnicity and Identity
What do we mean when we use the term “ethnicity”? What is identity? How do you describe your identity? This course has as its specific focus Ethnicity and Identity in the United States. We will read literature by ethnic writers supplemented by critical literary research, sociological, and historical articles. “Who Am I?” by Gwyn Kirk and Margo Ozawa-Rey, approaches identity formation as a continuous process which is based on the interplay of three levels of social relations. We will focus attention on how social oppression, such as racism, ethnocentrism, or sexism, can have a significant impact on an individual’s worldview, self-concept, and self-esteem. The literature will represent voices from a cross-section of contemporary Asian-American, Latino- American, African American, and Arab-American writers. Students will explore how class, gender, ethnic, and racial identity are conveyed in the different narrative forms that we read and how such factors implicitly and explicitly construct the social meanings of our identity and the identity of others. Students will be guided through a process of active and shared learning to a deeper understanding of how differences in belief are filtered through the lenses of ethnicity and identity formation. Students will consider what it means to be an “American” and how ethnicity plays out in an “American” identity.