ENG 340/AFRI 340: Multicultural American Literature

Summer I Intersession 2012

Policy Statement and Syllabus

Instructor: Jake Jakaitis Classroom: Stalker Hall 301
Office: Root Hall A-209 Meeting Time: MTuWTh 9:30--12:50
Office Phone: 237-3269 Office Hours: 2:00-2:50 M, Tu, W and by appointment
e-mail: jake.jakaitis@indstate.edu Home Page: http://isu.indstate.edu/jakaitis


Creates the Situation
And, then, the situation
Creates the imagination
It may, of course, be
The other way around;
Columbus was discovered
By what he found
--James Baldwin


Multicultural American Literature addresses cultural diversity through the reading and discussion of writings by Chicano/a, Native American, Asian-American, and African-American authors.  Content varies from semester to semester, so we do not cover each of these groups every semester.  Assigned readings include poetry, drama, short fiction, novels, autobiographical essays, and aesthetic and political manifestos. Treating these artifacts as cultural texts exposes students to the similarities and differences (that is, to the cultural diversity) of the aesthetic, political, and social values and experiences of writers belonging to various ethnic and racial groups. Multicultural American Literature is a Foundational Studies course that staisfies the Global Perspectives and Cultural Diversity requirement. (General Education 2000 students earn credit for the Multicultural Studies: U.S. Diversity [MCS:USD] requirement.) It is cross-listed in the English and African and African-American Studies Departments and offers credit in the Women’s Studies ProgramThe course is required for English teaching majors and minors, while English liberal arts majors and minors earn credit as an alternative literature elective. 


·         To provide an introduction to the breadth and quality of the literature produced by various cultural groups who have contributed to American history and culture and to encourage an appreciation of their contributions.


·         To present strategies for engaging this literature within its own historical and cultural contexts and for gauging its aesthetic, cultural, political and social dimensions.


·         To foreground and examine issues of race, gender, class, sexuality and nationality as they arise in these works, to consider the roles played by these issues in the establishing of our national identity, and to promote comparative analysis of the literary works and their cultural and historical contexts.


·         To encourage critical sophistication and lifelong readership of different literary genres (i.e. poetry, fiction, drama, essays).

(Years in parentheses indicate date of first publication.)

Butler, Octavia E.  Kindred.  (1979) Boston:  Beacon Press, 2004.  ISBN:  0-8070-8369-0
Lahiri, Jhumpa.  The Namesake.  (2003) New York:  Houghton Mifflin, 2004.  ISBN:  0-618-73396-5
Professor's Pack available at Goetz Printing & Copy Center, 16 S. 9th St. Telephone:  232-6504.
Do not contact Goetz until after our first class meeting; I wll let you know when the materials will be ready.


Because this is a compressed interim summer class, the reading and class preparation load in ENG 340/AFRI 340 will be rather intense at times.  While we will often read only three or four short works for a single class meeting, on at least one day, we will be covering a complete novel of almost 300 pages.  You will be expected to read carefully, take notes, and come to class prepared to write short answer responses to quiz questions about the assigned reading.  Study questions to focus your reading will appear as links in the on-line syllabus in advance of the assignment due dates.  It is your responsibility to check our web syllabus regularly, for I will sometimes withhold posting of study questions for later assignments so that I can tailor the questions to address issues and concerns raised in class discussion of previously covered works.  The study questions and quizzes will sustain the expectation that you have carefully read and thought about the assigned readings and that you are prepared to participate in meaningful discussion and interpretive analysis of the assigned literary works.  Familiarity with the literature will, of course, prepare you for interpretive analysis and discussion on quizzes and on the final examination.  You are responsible for all of the assigned readings, even aspects of them not discussed in class.

1.  Attendance and Participation (20%)
Attendance:  Full attendance is expected.  Because we will open most class sessions with a daily writing assignment or quiz, punctuality is crucial to your success.  If you arrive late, it will be impossible to give you additional time to complete the assignment and since the class discussion following each writing assignment or quiz will rely on students’ responses to the assignment, completing the work after class is not an acceptable option.  If you accumulate 3 unexcused absences, you will fail this course.  Of course, all absences, excused or unexcused, affect your grade because each absence reduces your quiz and participation score.  If you have an excused absence for medical or other University approved reasons, it is your responsibility to make up missed work by appointment with me as soon as is possible.  Attendance will account for 10% of your course grade.

Participation:  Much of our time will be spent discussing the assigned readings.  Exemplary performance in these activities will demonstrate that you are effectively preparing and thinking about the material and will significantly increase your participation score.  After each class meeting, I will assign participation points to students who actively comment on the readings and promote meaningful discussion related to the specified goals of the course. At semester's end, I will assign you a letter grade for participation based on your accumulated point total. It is in your best interest to take notes as you read and come to class prepared to ask questions or provoke discussion.  These practices will also prepare you to perform well on the final examination.  I encourage you to meet with me if you are having difficulty with the course or if you would like to discuss aspects of the assigned reading that were not covered in class. If you wish to meet with me but cannot attend my office hours, please arrange a conference with me at a more convenient time.  If you do intend to meet with me during one of my office hours, it is best to let me know that you are coming so that I can reserve the time for you.  This brief summer session will go by rather quickly; please see me immediately if you begin having difficulty with any of the course materials.  Participation will account for 10% of your course grade.

Professional Courtesy:  You will be expected to behave professionally in this college classroom.  Turn off cell phones before entering the room.  From the moment that you enter the classroom, you should be focused on the materials and assignments in this course.  Reading of newspapers or other material not directly related to work in this course will not be allowed in the classroom--neither before class has started, nor during our formal class session.   If you are interested in reading newspapers or other materials unrelated to this course as you wait for class to begin, do so outside the classroom. Students who behave rudely, or who have to be asked to put down newspapers or other reading materials will lose participation points.  Under extreme circumstances, such students will be removed from the classroom or dropped from this course.  Laptops may be used for note-taking and for review of course materials posted in our on-line syllabus or for searches during class to support our discussions.  However, this privilege will be revoked for anyone using a laptop for e-mail, instant messaging, or any purpose not directly related to the ongoing class discussion.  If laptop use appears to become a problem, I reserve the right to demand that an individual immediately turn the display toward me for inspection.  Any student viewing material irrelevant to this course will be removed from the class.

   2.   Daily Writing and Quizzes (50%)
Class meetings will often open with a writing assignment or quiz.  These short examinations will either ask you to respond briefly to a few factual questions [usually 10] about the assigned reading, or require short essay responses that analyze and interpret assigned readings.  The latter responses must begin with topic sentences that directly answer the question and then supply specific story details to support the topic.  Simply quickly reading the assigned stories will not prepare you to score well on these quizzes.  Instead, you must actively consider study questions, literary techniques, plot structures and conflicts, thematic concerns, or the relation of the assigned reading to material presented in lectures and discussions of previously assigned works.  Missed quizzes cannot be made up unless you have a medical, family emergency, or ISU program excuse.

5.  Final Examination (30%)
You will complete a final examination covering all material assigned in the course. The final will include both short answer and essay components and will be written in class on Thursday, May 31 beginning at 10 a.m.  The short answer portions of the examination will ask you to match quotations with authors and stories and to briefly respond to factual questions about the assigned material, including essays, interviews, and documentary films.  The essay questions will ask you to engage in interpretive analysis while drawing comparisons among assigned texts.


The following percentages are tentative guidelines and are subject to change based, for example, on the number of quizzes actually given during the semester.  I reserve the right to alter assignments and percentage values as the semester progresses.  If changes become necessary, I will inform the class in advance and post all changes on this site:

Daily Writing and Quizzes
Final Examination

 We will work on a 1,000 point system.  In accord with the University’s new grading policy, which includes minus grades, the following scale will be used:  920 points or higher = A; 900 = A-; 850 = B+; 820 = B; 800 = B-; 750 = C+; 720 = C; 700 = C-; 650 = D+; 620 = D; 600 = D-; less than 580 = F.
****Retain this policy statement and all graded assignments until you receive your final grade. You will have little chance for grade review unless you are able to re-submit your graded work.

ENG 340/AFRI 340:  Multicultural American Literature:                        Summer 2010 Syllabus

[Reading assignments in the Professor’s Pack are identified by the designation PP, while handouts are designated by H.  The page numbers listed identify the original source pagination to provide an idea of the actual length of each reading assignment.  The notation, SQ, refers to assigned Study Questions available on-line.  This is a tentative reading schedule.  It is your responsibility to attend class and to keep track of any changes in the schedule.]

Please check this syllabus regularly, I will frequently update with additional links and supporting information on texts and authors.



5-14 [M]         Course Introduction
                        Discuss WEB DuBois, "The Concept of Race," [H: 1] SQ
                        DuBois Virtual University  DuBois Biography Souls of Black Folks
                       Baraka Website    Baraka Lunch Poems

5-15 [Tu]         Zoo Story by Edward Albee [H: 15-40] SQ for Albee and Baraka
                        Dutchman by Amiri Baraka [H: 76-99] Watch the Film of Dutchman [54 minutes]
                        Poetry by Amiri Baraka, [H: 280-285]

5-16 [W]         "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker [H: 2126-2133] SQ
                        "The Lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara [H: 69-75] SQ
                        "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin [H: 46-68] SQ Some Motifs in "Sonny's Blues"

5-17 [Th]         Begin Kindred by Octavia Butler ["Prologue" through "The Fall": 9-107] Daily Writing for Kindred
                        Study Questions for Kindred can be found on pages 285-287 of the novel.


5-21 [M]         Finish Kindred by Octavia Butler ["The Fight" through "Epilogue": 108-264]
                        Watch 2-19-1998 Smithsonian on Executive Order 9066                    

5-22 [Tu]        "Tears of Autumn" by Yoshiko Uchida [PP: 202-209] SQ--For this story, come to class prepared to discuss the meaning of the story's final sentence.
                        "Seventeen Syllables" by Hisaye Yamamoto [PP: 8-19] SQ Hiroshige Print Hiroshige IrisesHiroshige Rapids
                        Interviews with Mary Tsukomoto, Emi Somekawa, and Tom Watanabe [PP: 3-15  & 146-151 & 94-99] SQ
                        "The Legend of Miss Sasagawara" by Hisaye Yamamoto [PP: 20-33] SQ
                       Watch Mary TallMountain Reading Poems from Bill Moyers's Ancestral Memories

5-23 [W]        Joy Harjo Interview and Poems [PP: 159-172] SQ
                        "Yellow Women Stories" by Paula Gunn Allen & "Yellow Woman" by Leslie Marmon Silko [PP: 210-228] SQ
                        "Woman Hollering Creek" by Sandra Cisneros [PP: 596-605] SQLa Llorona.com

5-24 [Th]         "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" by Jhumpa Lahiri [PP: 23-42] SQDaily Writing Assignment for the Two Lahiri Stories
                        "Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri [PP: 42-69] SQ
                        Watch The Namesake


5-28 [M]         NO CLASS: MEMORIAL DAY

5- 29  [Tu]         Read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri [291 Pages] SQ for the novel are grouped into five files: Chs. 1 & 2, Chs. 3 &4, Chs. 5-7, Chs. 8 & 9, and Chs. 10-12.

5-30  [W]          "The Power of Horses" by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn [PP: 201-209] SQ for "The Power of Horses" and "American Horse"
                        "American Horse" by Louise Erdrich [PP: 31-44]
                        "A Moving Day" by Susan Nuñes [PP: 130-137] SQ
                       Final Examination Preparation    Readings in Assigned Order

5-31  [Th]            FINAL EXAMINATION