Empire, Race, and/or Ethnicity courses focus on ways that race matters in literature, media, and culture.  Recent courses have examined such matters as native American literature and film; nineteenth-century writings by slavers and enslaved people in the U.S. and British colonies; fiction and filmmaking in post-apartheid South Africa; Latinx science fiction and environmental justice, and the novels of Toni Morrison.


Barter, Faith

Working from the 19th century to the present, this course will consider African American and Afro-Caribbean literature that troubles our notions of the “natural” and the “real.” Exploring narratives of hallucination, prophecy, and divination, we will study the ways that Black writers have... (read more)


Thorsson, Courtney

In this course, we will study selected writings of Toni Morrison in their historical, political, and literary contexts. In addition to Morrison's work as a novelist, we will consider her work as a literary scholar, editor, and advocate for and representative of contemporary African American... (read more)


Sayre, Gordon

D’Arcy McNickle and Louise Erdrich were both born into métis or mixed-blood families on the northern plains, and wrote novels about the life of indigenous and immigrant peoples in and around a fictionalized version of a reservation, the Flathead Reservation in Montana and the Turtle Mountain... (read more)


Brown, Kirby

There is perhaps no image more widely recognized yet more grossly misunderstood in American popular culture than the “Indian.” Whether viewed as irredeemable savages and impediments to progress or as idealized possessors of primitive innocence and new-age spiritualism, “the Indian” stands as an... (read more)


Thorsson, Courtney

In this course, we will study novels by Black American women from the late nineteenth century to the present. Using close reading and historical context, we will consider how these novels construct race, class, and gender; the possibilities and limits of the novel form; whether and how these... (read more)


The Black Fantastic 

In 2020, against the backdrop of a pandemic, wildfires, anti-Black violence, a global wave of protests and social unrest, and political upheaval, Octavia Butler’s 1993 Afrofuturist novel, Parable of the Sower, reached the New York Times bestseller... (read more)


In this course, we will study poetry of the Black Arts Movement (BAM) in its literary, political, and cultural contexts. BAM is the cultural arm of the Black Power Movement and was at its peak from about 1965 to about 1976. BAM writers are diverse in terms of form, genre, gender, geography, and... (read more)


Brown, Kirby

La Malinche. Pocahontas. Sacagawea. These are likely the only Indigenous women with whom many are familiar. Though real historical figures, these Indigenous women are often depicted in popular literature along a rigid spectrum as race traitors or colonial sympathizers, virtuous princesses or... (read more)


Sayre, Gordon

In this course we study car collecting and customizing as vernacular art traditions, and survey of some of the astonishing range of human behaviors... (read more)


Quigley, Mark

Narrating the Sunset of the British Empire: The Twentieth-Century Novel from Modernism to Postmodernism

... (read more)

Carroll, Anna

On the back of Broken Harbor (in the Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French, of which we’re reading the first installment), a reviewer’s comment reads: “It’s literature masquerading as police procedural.” While the overlapping genres of detective fiction, mystery, and psychological... (read more)


Barter, Faith

Wherever slavery existed, there were those who resisted it, many of whom paid with their lives. This course examines the literature of... (read more)


Barter, Faith

Hallucinations, Prophecies, and the Supernatural. Working from the 19th century to the present, this course will consider African... (read more)


Dawson, Brent

This interdisciplinary course looks at how ideas of nature and the natural world shape early modern understandings of the Americas.... (read more)


Brown, Kirby

There is perhaps no image more widely recognized yet more grossly misunderstood in American popular culture than the “Indian.”... (read more)


Kaufman, Heidi

In recent years Jewish fiction and non-fiction writers have turned to the archive quest narrative to explore family secrets, confusing histories, and lost or... (read more)


Cortez, José

This course will examine the cultural and literary discourses emerging from the locus of the U.S./Mexico border, a space of postnational political conflict that has extended deep into both... (read more)


This class will explore the intersections between race, literature, and film. We will study poetry, fiction, essays, and comics that... (read more)


Quigley, Mark

This course will explore the remarkable literary legacy of W.B. Yeats whose groundbreaking work charted the turmoil of revolution, war, and the collapse of a... (read more)


Cortez, José

This course will examine the cultural and literary discourses emerging from the locus of the U.S./Mexico border, a space of postnational political conflict... (read more)


What is “Black marxism”: How does such a perspective define “marxism,” and what makes Black radicalism different? How does the latter define, and how is... (read more)


Li, David

Reading important writers of Asian American descent, this class is concerned with the following: 1. Where is Asian America? 2. What is an Asian American? Is it... (read more)


Whalan, Mark

This course will examine a variety of texts that engage the modern state–its functions and possibilities; its ability to repress and coerce; its ability to forge new and enduring kinds of social connection; and what place, if any, it allows for literary culture.

It will examine some of the... (read more)


Barter, Faith

In the decades leading up to the Civil War, it was illegal for slaves to learn how to read or write. It was illegal for them to testify in court, except against each other or to confess a crime. In the North, free African Americans often did not fare much better: there they were susceptible to... (read more)


Liminal Form(s): Ethnic American Short Fiction

This course will examine Ethnic American short fiction, paying particular attention to the ways its structure and content uphold and contest literary, corporeal, and national form(s).... (read more)


This class explores how black women writers of the twentieth century have taken up the themes of time, memory, and identity. These writers often conceived of literature as a project of memory and recovery, a place, as Ntzoake Shange puts it in Sassafrass, Cypress, & Indigo, for... (read more)


Casimir, Ulrick

Focusing primarily on American/Hollywood filmmaking from the late 1960s through today, this course looks closely at the representation and function of African-Americans and women in film. Using both mainstream and independent films as our primary texts, we will explore how African-Americans and... (read more)


Upton, Corbett

Credited with inaugurating the Harlem Renaissance and inspiring the Negrítude movement, Claude McKay is best known as America’s most important protest sonneteer. McKay’s storied literary career documents the life of a black expatriate modern and his sense of the Black Atlantic experience during... (read more)


Whalan, Mark

African American Authors of the Harlem Renaissance

This course will examine the work of three major African American authors: Claude McKay, Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes. These three did much to set the tone of the flourishing of black literary culture after World World One known... (read more)


Brown, Kirby

There is perhaps no image more widely recognized yet more grossly misunderstood in American popular culture than the “Indian.” Across a variety of discursive forms, “the Indian” has been represented as everything from an irredeemable savage and an impediment to progress to an idealized figure of... (read more)


Brundan, Katherine

The Language of Novels

This course will focus on the politics of language in nineteenth-century novels, exploring elements such as translation, “primitive” language, philology, the spoken/unspoken, and different registers of dialogue. We will encounter novels that imagine various... (read more)


Brown, Kirby

Cherokee/Choctaw scholar Louis Owens declared that all Native novels are centrally occupied with recovering and (re)articulating an Indigenous sense of identity from within the discursive and linguistic contexts of colonialism. For Owens, this inherently dialogic process draws heavily on... (read more)


Wald, Sarah D

Latinx Literary Environmentalisms

Latinx literature and culture sit at the cutting edge of contemporary environmental thought. This class examines the intertwining of social and environmental justice in contemporary Latinx literature and cultural production, including fiction, film, and... (read more)


Secret Agency: Navigating Race and Identity in Passing Fictions

While nineteenth-century America touted itself as a place where people could reinvent themselves as self-made, prosperous, fully enfranchised citizens, it was also the period when categories like race, gender, and class became... (read more)


Fickle, Tara

Asian American Comics

The growing acceptance of comics and graphic novels as “serious” literature owes much to the genre’s embrace as a powerful vehicle for memory, especially by minority writers seeking to showcase “non-normative” accounts of American life: the experiences of being gay,... (read more)


Bohls, Elizabeth

Slavery shaped the ecology, economy, and culture of the Atlantic Rim, including parts of Europe, Africa, and the Americas. In the long eighteenth century (1660-1838), British slavery on the Caribbean sugar islands reached its peak, was fought by the abolitionist movement and ended by Parliament... (read more)


This course explores the literature of Ken Kesey, viewed in the context of American literary precursors, two significant novels, and subsequent writings by and about the author. To “frame” our study in this most compressed—four week!—course, our understanding will be aided by Richard Poirier’s... (read more)