ENGL 490: Multi-Ethnic and Mixed-Race Identities in Literature and Film

ENGL 490: Multi-Ethnic and Mixed-Race Identities in Literature and Film

University of British Columbia
Winter 2011

Glenn Deer, Assistant Professor of English

This course will examine literary and selected filmic representations of interracial and inter-ethnic identities, mixed-race relationships and intermarriage, and bicultural communities in comparative national and international contexts. We shall be especially concerned with the ways in which North American literature and cinema challenge dominant constructions of community identities in terms of ethnic and racial categories. (We will also look at one British film by Mike Leigh.) We will consider such pertinent issues as the problems of identity formation and voice in mixed-race communities, the politics of multiculturalism, and the history of attitudes towards racial boundary crossing.

THEORY (Selections from the following to be available as a custom course packet at the UBC bookstore.)

  1. David Parker and Miri Song, eds., Rethinking ‘Mixed Race’ (Pluto 2001)
  2. Les Back and John Solomos, eds., Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader (Routledge 2000)
  3. Martha Hodes, ed., Sex, Love, Race: Crossing Boundaries in North American History (New York UP 1999)
  4. Robert Young, Colonial Desire (Routledge 1995)

Required readings will include the following:  We will usually consider one literary work or a film alongside a relevant critical article or chapter each week.

  1. Canadian multiracial writing
  2. American multiracial writing
    • Gish Jen, Mona in the Promised Land (Vintage 1996)
    • Nella Larsen, Passing (Penguin 2000)
    • James McBride, The Color of Water (Riverhead 1997)
    • Sigrid Nunez, A Feather on the Breath of God (HarperCollins 1994)
    • Chang-rae Lee, Native Speaker (Riverhead 1995)
  3. Canadian, American, and British Films
    • Spike Lee, Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever
    • Mina Shum, Double Happiness
    • Mike Leigh, Secrets and Lies
    • Anne Marie Nakagawa, Between: Living in the Hyphen
    • Others TBA and guided by student preferences

Course requirements:

  • An oral presentation
  • a prepared response to a classmate’s oral presentation
  • a seminar essay
  • regular participation in the class discussions
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