English 346--Ethnic American Literature--Fall 2002


Section 01 [engl346-01]: MW 2:10-4:00 in 22-315

seat chart

Instructor: Steven Marx


Office hours: MW 4:10-5:00; T 9:10-10:00

47-25E, 756-2411


This course centers around five books by writers who have been classified as "Ethnic": Asian-American, African-American, Jewish-American, Latino-American and Native-American. Each book has been celebrated as a literary work and as a window into and out of its subculture.

  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  • Brothers and Keepers by John Edgar Wideman
  • Maus I and Maus II by Art Spiegelman
  • Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros
  • Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Two weeks of class will be devoted to each book and ethnicity. Class activities will include lecture, discussion, film clips, songs, and student group and individual presentations.

Assignments in this course ask students to read actively, to reflect on their own experience in light of their reading, and to create essays and projects as fruit of their reading and reflection.

Fall 2002 Schedule





Work due



Course Introduction


"Why Care"

Introduction to Amy Tan

Film excerpts: "The Joy Luck Club"*



presentation signup list


Asian American Experience


The Joy Luck Club 1-83

Sparknotes Guide to the book








The Joy Luck Club 85-155

possible approaches to #1



    The Joy Luck Club 157-236



Student presentations

The Joy Luck Club 237-332

Responses to student presentations [due Tuesday10/8]


African American Experience

Introduction to John Edgar Wideman Brothers and Keepers xi-54

book review by Ishmael Reed




Discussion groups

Brooks poem
Hughes poem
Billy Holiday song

Assignment #1
Brothers and Keepers




    Brothers and Keepers 121-180




Student presentations

Wideman links:
Robby's case 1
Robby's case 2

Brothers and Keepers 181-243

Responses to student presentations [due Wednesday 10/23]

Possible topics for #2



Maus I

Jewish American Experience



Maus I

discussion groups



Maus II On Spiegelman and the Comix Assignment #2
Maus II





Student presentations

preparation guide for midterm exam

"Of Mice and Memory"

Responses to student presentations

Suggested topics for Assignment #3



Latino-American Experience

Midterm exam

Introduction to Sandra Cisneros

Discuss "My Lucy Friend"

Woman Hollering Creek 1-23

browse Cisneros Webpage




Discuss "One Holy Night"

Group Discussion topics

Assignment #3

Woman Hollering Creek 25-40



holiday; no class





Discuss "There was a man..."

Woman Hollering Creek 41-114






Student presentations


Woman Hollering Creek 114-165

Student responses to presentations [due Tuesday 11/19]

Possible topics for #4



Ceremony Introduction to Leslie Marmon Silko

Ceremony 1-28

Lecture and Reading Notes



Ceremony   Assignment #4 Ceremony 29-100



No class







Possible topics for #5

Final exam study guide

Ceremony 100-223




Ceremony Student presentations


Ceremony 224-262

Check out "Priesthoods and Power: Some Thoughts on Diablo Canyon" by Steven Marx

Responses to presentation 5[due Friday 12/6]


12/9[Monday 5:00 p.m.]



Assignment #5


12/13[Friday1:10-2:00 p.m.]

Final Exam



*All films listed are available on reserve in the Learning Resources Center of Kennedy Library.

Students will produce one assignment for each work read. Three of these assignments are critical papers--each between 250 and 1000 words formatted on a single page. Topics are up to students. Some sample approaches include: the language of a particular passage; a character or a relationship and how they change; the relation between sections of a book or books; a comparison between parts of a book and a film; research on the historical context of a section of a book; an argument with a character or the author over a clearly defined issue raised in the book. [See "A Paradigm for Literary Analysis" and "Dr. Marx's Special Formula" ] Specific suggestions for topics are provided for each unit.

One assignment is a two page autobiographical essay connecting a passage or incident in one of the books to specific experiences of the student. Another assignment is a creative project in any medium--writing, music, food, visual arts, dance, web page, etc.--inspired by the book or its subject matter. Students select which work to link to each assignment.

At the end of the first week, students sign up for a date to present one of their assignments--critical paper, autobiographical essay or creative project--to the class. Those who sign up for the same date will work together to integrate their various presentations into a well planned variety show. Everybody who doesnt present needs to submit a short email response to the presentations as detailed here.

Each of the five assignments counts15% of the final grade. A midterm counts 10% and a final exam counts 15% of the grade. Each can satisfy the GWR. Late assignments are penalized one full grade for each class session's delay unless a postponement is granted by the instructor in advance. Occasional unannounced quizzes will insure that readings are completed on time. Each failed pop quiz lowers grade by one half letter.

Four unexcused absences lower the grade by one half letter; seven unexcused absences result in no credit. Three unexcused latenesses count for one absence. Certified medical absences are not counted in these totals and are the only reason for makeup exams or quizzes.

Deliberate plagiarism or other forms of cheating result in a failing grade and referral to the dean. Students are responsible for understanding the definition of plagiarism. Please consult the instructor if the page on Documentation and Plagiarism doesn't make it clear.