ENG660 201701 Graduate

Fall 2017
ENG 660
Applies To: 
American Literature: Race, Nation, and Belonging in the Ethnic American Bildungsroman

Kirby Brown

Kirby Brown profile picture
  • Title: Associate Professor
  • Additional Title: Norman H. Brown Faculty Fellow, 2019-21
  • Phone: 541-346-5819
  • Office: 330 PLC
  • Office Hours: S20 - T 10-12; W 4-5:30 Canvas Chat/conf & by email appt.
  • Website: Website
Department Section Description: 

Bildungsroman. Arguably one of the most widely recognized and hotly contested critical terms in literary studies, it has been read as everything from an organic, mimetic allegory of national community to an insidious instrument of social discipline. Its coincidence with the emergence of empire, nationalism, bourgeois individualism and modernity not only encourages interrogation of its normative representations of social order and subject formation. It also demands interpretive frameworks and comparative methodologies capable of addressing intersections between race, class, nation, gender/sexuality and coloniality that consistently exceed the genre’s formal impulse toward containment and closure. Informed by secondary readings at the intersections of genre theory, race/ethnicity, and nation/nationalism studies, this course explores ethnic American negotiations with the American bildungsroman in five novels from the modernist 1920s-30s: Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers (1925), Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928), John Joseph Mathews’ Sundown (1934), Ameríco Paredes’ George Washington Gomez (1936, 1990), and Younghill Kang’s East Goes West: The Making of an Oriental Yankee (1937). Marked by post-War Anglo-nativism, intensified racial violence across the South and Southwest, drastic shifts in immigration and federal Indian policies, and the cultural/literary influences of modernity and American modernism, these writers chose the bildungsroman as the literary form through which to examine the contradictions of national subject formation for the racially-marked American citizen-subject.