ENG/AFRI 340:  Multicultural American Literature                                                                  Fall 2009 Policy Statement


Instructor:  Jake Jakaitis

Classroom:  Dreiser Hall 303

Office:  Root Hall A209

Meeting Time:  M W F 12:00[12:50

Office Phone:  237-3269

Office Hours:  2 -3 Tu, 1-2 M W, & by arrangement


Web 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 General Education course that satisfies the Multicultural Studies: U.S. Diversity [MCS:USD] requirement in the General Education 2000 Program.  [GE 89 students earn C1 E2 liberal studies credit.] 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.  English majors do not earn the General Education credit for completing ENG 340.



·         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 dates of original 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

Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird. (1959) New York: Warner Books, 1982. [This book is a late addition to the syllabus and has not yet been ordered.]

Morales, Aaron. From Here You Can Almost See the End of the Desert. Notre Dame: Momotombo Press, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-9797446-1-7. [This book will be purchased in class for $8.]

Silko, Leslie Marmon.  Ceremony.  (1977)  New York:  Penguin, 1986.  ISBN:  0-14-008683-8

Professor's Pack available at Goetz Printing & Copy Center, 16 S. 9th St.  Telephone:  232-6504.


Because of the course's multiple emphases described above under the heading, "Course Description," the reading and class preparation load in English 340 will be rather intense at times.  While we will often read only a short work [story or novella] for a single class meeting, in some weeks we will be covering a complete novel of 300 or more 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, in the mid-term examination, in assigned papers, 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 (10%)

Attendance:  Full attendance is expected.  Because we will open some class sessions with a 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 quiz will rely on students’ responses to the quizzes, completing the work after class is not an acceptable option.  If you accumulate 9 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 before the next class meeting.  Attendance will account for 5% 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 attendance/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 and come to class prepared to ask questions or provoke discussion.  These practices will also prepare you to perform well on the short essays and the final project.  Conferences are not required but are encouraged. 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. A semester goes by rather quickly; please see me immediately if you begin having difficulty with any of the course materials.  Participation will account for 5% 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.   2.   Quizzes (10%)

Class meetings will often open with a 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 reading.  The latter responses must begin with topic sentences that directly answer the question and then supply specific story details to support the topic.  [See the "Essay Quizzes" link below.]  Simply quickly reading the assigned stories will not prepare you 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. Essay Quizzes

  3.  Essay (20%)

You will write one 4-5 page [1,200-1,500 word], typed analytical paper on either Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, or Octavia Butler's Kindred.  Essay topics will be distributed in advance of our discussions of the novels.  The paper will be typed, double-spaced, with one inch margins on all four sides of the page.  Use the standard Times New Roman 12 font size.  The due date will vary depending on which novel you choose to discuss in your essay.  Essays will be submitted by e-mail attachment and will be returned in the same manner.  Specific instructions for essay submissions will appear in the essay assignment.

4.  Mid-Term Examination (30%)

During week seven, you will write a mid-term examination including both short answer questions about concepts, terms, and assigned works discussed in class and extended responses to essay questions.  This examination will be written during two class periods and will cover the readings as well as the broad issues in multicultural American literature discussed over the first six weeks of the semester.  On Friday, October 2, our class meeting will be devoted to mid-term review;  it is crucial that you attend this class meeting.

5.  Final Examination (30%)

You will complete a final examination covering material assigned from week eight through the end of the semester.  Like the mid-term, the final will include both short answer and essay components.  The final will be written during our final examination class meeting on Monday, December 14, at 1:00 p.m. in Dreiser Hall 303.

6.  Extra Credit

I award extra credit points for written discussions and analyses that you submit after attending any event on or off campus that addresses issues in multicultural American literature. Extra credit opportunities will be announced over the course of the semester; some of these will involve reading additional stories or novels or discussing a film adaptation of a literary work.  Over the course of the semester, you may submit a maximum of 5 extra credit assignments and earn a maximum of up to 50 extra credit points for attending events or doing additional reading and film watching, and writing 2 to 3 page, double-spaced, typed analyses that directly relate your experience to multicultural themes and issues raised in this course.  Typically, each extra credit submission can earn a maximum of 10 points.  Occasionally, however, a longer assignment will be designated as offering up to 20 points and will count as two submissions.  Submissions will be evaluated and partial credit will be awarded based on the quality of the work.  I will announce upcoming events in class and invite all of you to do the same.  Extra credit will be available only for events approved in advance by me.  No extra credit assignments will be accepted after Monday, November 23, and I will accept no more than one extra credit submission from any student in any given week of the semester.  Click here for extra credit announcements.


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:





Mid-Term Examination.................................30%



We will work on a 1,000 point system. In accord with the University's new grading policy, including minus final grades, the following scale will be used: 900 points or higher = A; 880 = A-; 850 = B+; 800 = B; 780 = B-; 750 = C+; 700 = C; 680 = C-; 650 = D+; 600 = D; 580 = 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                                                                         Fall 2009 Syllabus


[Reading assignments in the Professor’s Pack are preceded by the designation PP.  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.



WEEK ONE:  Course Introduction

 8-26  (W)     Course Introduction: "Mets Fumble for the Word" [Handout & PDF at course web site] SQ

                     DuBois Virtual University  DuBois Biography

                     Late Registration Begins:  $30 Late Registration Fee


 8-28  (F)       NO CLASS

WEEK TWO: What is an American?

 8-31  (M)         Discuss WEB DuBois, "The Concept of Race," [PP: 1] SQ  "The Forethought" and "Of Our Spiritual Strivings" from DuBois' Souls of Black Folks at WEB DuBois' site.

 9-1   (Tu)        Last Day to Add Classes; Last Day for 100% Refund on Drops & Withdrawals

 9-2   (W)       “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker  [PP: 2126-2133] SQ       Teaching History:  Black Muslims

                       Scheduling for Drops Only; $30 Drop/Add Fee Begins

 9-4   (F)      “Introduction” to A Different Mirror by Ronald TakakiPP: 1-17; SQ  Interview with Takaki

WEEK THREE:  What is an American?

 9-7   (M)        LABOR DAY:  NO CLASS


 9-8   (Tu)       Last Day for 75% Refund on Drops; Last Day to Drop with No Grade.

 9-9   (W)       "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" by Jhumpa Lahiri[PP:  23-42] SQ

                       Bangladesh History   Maps 

 9-11   (F)          The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri:  Chs. 1 & 2:  1-47 SQ

WEEK FOUR:  First Generation American Identity

 9-14  (M)         The Namesake:  Chs. 3 & 4:  48-96 SQ

 9-15  (Tu)        Last Day for 50% Refund.

 9-16  (W)        The Namesake:  Chs. 5-7:  97-187 SQ

 9-18  (F)        The Namesake:  Chs. 8 & 9:  188-245 SQ

                      Three Week Attendance Report Due

WEEK FIVE:  History and Identity

 9-21  (M)         The Namesake:  Chs. 10-12:  246-291SQ


 9-22  (Tu)        Last Day for 25% Refund on Drops 

 9-23  (W)       "Tears of Autunm" by Yoshiko Uchida [PP:  202-209]  Angel Island Picture Brides  Angel Island Poetry Notes on Japanese Immigration       

 9-25   (F)        "Seventeen Syllables" by Hisaye Yamamoto [PP: 8-19]  SQ  JACL   Hiroshige Irises  Hiroshige Rapids  Hiroshige River

WEEK SIX:  Immigration and Internment

 9-28  (M)        Excerpts from And Justice for All: Mary Tsukamoto, Emi Somekawa, & Tom Watanabe Hispanic Awareness Month Extra Credit

                        [PP: 3-15; 146-151; 95-99];  SQ; Senator Matsui [Video] Relocation Camps

 9-30  (W)         "The Legend of Miss Sasagawara" by Yamamoto [PP: 20-33]  SQ

 10-2  (F)         Prepare for "Yellow Woman" Stories

                       Mid-Term Review Handout

WEEK SEVEN:  Mid-Term Examination

 10-5   (M)        Mid-Term Identification and Short Answer  International Crime, Media & Popular Studies Conference

 10-7   (W)        Mid-Term Essay Question


WEEK EIGHT: Legend, Gender, Identity

10-12  (M)       Yellow Women Stories:  Cochiti and Laguna Pueblo [PP:  210-218]

                        “Yellow Woman” by Leslie Marmon Silko [PP: 219-228] SQ  Interview with Silko

                        Visit La llorona web site  [lallorona.com Multicultural Virgin Mary Photos


 10-14  (W)      “Woman Hollering Creek” by Sandra Cisneros [PP:  596-605] SQ

                        Suggested Reading:  "I Throw Punches for My Race, but I don't Want to be a Man"

 10-16  (F)        "Flashflood" by Aaron Morales in From Here You Can Almost See the End of the Desert: 10-27; Video Excerpts from In the White Man's Image

WEEK NINE: Native American Narrative Traditions

 10-19 (M)        Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko:  1-62 [For each Ceremony assignment, stop at the obvious gap on the page.]

                        Mid-Term Grades Due         

 10-21 (W)        Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko:  62-93  Navajo Cow Weaving  Navajo 19th Century Weaving

                        Laguna Pueblo Photos

 10-23  (F)        Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko:  93-153

WEEK TEN: Native American Narrative Traditions

 10-26 (M)        Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko:  154-216


 10-28 (W)        Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko: 216-262

 10-30 (F)          Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko:  Discuss unresolved issues; Video Excerpt from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

WEEK ELEVEN:  Chicano Identity

 11-2  (M)        I Don't Have to Show You No Stinking Badges by Luis Valdez [PP:  156-214]

 11-3  (Tu)        Last Day to Drop Classes--No Petitions for Exception--GRADE OF DP OR DF REQUIRED; Last Day to Withdraw with No Grades.

 11-4  (W)        "Easter Sunday" and "Real Man Stuff" by Morales in From Here You Can Almost See the End of the Desert: 29-47

 11-6  (F)          Visit with Aaron Moralesto Discuss his Work

WEEK TWELVE: Education, Race, & Gender

 11-9  (M)        To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Chapters 1-9. pp. 3-89. See the essay assignment for study questions about the novel.

 11-11 (W)       To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee : Chapters 10-18, pp. 89-189.


11-13  (F)       To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Chapters 19-31, pp. 190-281.

WEEK THIRTEEN:  Slavery and African-American Narrative Traditions

11-16 (M)         "Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin [PP:  46-68] SQ  Motifs in "Sonny's Blues"; Baldwin's "Letter to My Nephew"PDF

11-18 (W)         Kindred by Octavia Butler ["Prologue" & "The River": 9-17]; Kindred "Reader's Guide ["Discussion Questions":  285-287]

11-20 (F)          Kindred by Octavia Butler ["The Fire": 18-51]

WEEK FOURTEEN:  Slavery and African-American Narrative Traditions

 11-23 (M)        Kindred by Octavia Butler ["The Fall": 52-107]



WEEK FIFTEEN:  Kindred Continued

 11-30 (M)     Kindred by Octavia Butler ["The Fight": 108-189] 

 12-2 (W)       Kindred by Octavia Butler ["The Storm": 189-239]

 12-4 (F)        Kindred by Octavia Butler ["The Rope" & "Epilogue":  240-264]; Kindred "Reader's Guide" [265-284]   Final Extra Credit Opportunity

WEEK SIXTEEN:  Final Things


 12-7   (M)         "Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri: PP: 43-69 SQ

 12-9  (W)          A Moving Day" by Susan Nunes [PP:  130-137] SQ QUIZ

 12-11 (F)         Final Examination Discussion and Review


 OUR FINAL EXAMINATION IS ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 14 @ 1:00 p.m. in Dreiser Hall 303

[Attendance at the final examination period is mandatory.]