AMCULT 405 - Topics in American Culture
Section: 007 American Fiction: Race and Ethnicity
Term: WN 2018
Subject: American Culture (AMCULT)
Department: LSA American Culture
With permission of instructor.
May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

This is a survey of some celebrated American novels of the last 10-15 years, focusing on the meaning of race, ethnicity, and racism. What (if anything) does fiction have to tell us about these matters that we can’t learn more efficiently elsewhere? To answer that question, we’ll consider the relationship between social change and fictional form (mainly postmodernism). Topics include race and slavery; religion and ethnicity; gender and sexuality; immigration and left-wing politics; the state and American global power; and the capacity of ordinary people to change the order of things. Of special interest is the rebirth of historical consciousness—the return to the past to mirror the present; to understand how things got to be the way they are; to recover a time when things were different, so as to encourage hope as well as creative thinking about the present and future; or to excavate events that have been ignored, forgotten, or repressed, so as to deal with them directly today. We will accordingly ask how effective the recourse to (fictional) history is in addressing racism in the present.


Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Michael Chabon, Gentlemen of the Road

Toni Morrison, A Mercy

Louise Erdrich, The Plague of Doves

Julie Otsuka, The Buddha in the Attic

Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Mohsin Hamid, Exit West

Course Requirements:

a) Attendance and regular participation in discussion

b) 15-18 pages of writing: either two 5- to 6-page papers plus a take-home final of the same length; or one 10- to 12-page paper plus a 5- to 6-page take-home final

Intended Audience:

English majors and others interested in the topic

Class Format:

Lecture and discussion

AMCULT 405 - Topics in American Culture
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
003 (SEM)
Tu 2:00PM - 5:00PM
007 (SEM)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
008 (SEM)
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for AMCULT 405 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi
The CourseProfile (ART) system, supported by the U-M Provost’s 3rd Century Initiative through a grant to the Office of Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (ART)