ENGLISH 285 - Introduction to Twentieth-Century Literature
Winter 2022, Section 001 - American Refugees: The Shifting Borders of US Fiction
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Despite generations of critique, the national narrative of the US as a land of and for refugees is still frequently retold. However, the history and literature of the past century and a half tells a different story. Many different stories, in fact. The history of migration and immigration turns out to be an ongoing crisis of representation itself. This course will provide historical and sociological contexts for understanding the rise of mass immigration and the varied waves of political and cultural responses. If we approach 21st-century US refugee fiction as an ongoing crisis of narrative (how to tell the stories of individuals who adopt a new culture and language of consciousness), it emerges as a rich tradition of literary innovation, subtle social critique, and transracial alliance-building. 

After considering the historical trajectory of US migrant fiction since the 19th century, we’ll focus on contemporary novels that complicate borders, documentation, rights, community, and language. In reading a wide range of genres, we’ll consider recent narrratives that complicate what the term refugee means, the status of undocumented and stateless people, how borders shape literary narrative, migrant time, and the perils of translation. Authors we may read include Molly Antopol, Gloria Anzaldúa, James Baldwin, Nathan Englander, Yaa Gyasi, Mohsin Hamid, N.K. Jemisin, Valeria Luiselli, China Miéville, Ben Marcus, Achy Obejas, Tommy Orange, Julie Otsuka, Gary Shteyngart, and Ocean Vuong.

Course Requirements:

Requirements will include discussion posts, two exams, and two short essays. 


ENGLISH 285 - Introduction to Twentieth-Century Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM

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