ENGL 617-01: Race, Law, and Lit

Section Description:

This course explores the intersections between race, law, and literature. We will consider how law has defined racial identity according to strict boundaries, and how literature enables us to push against those boundaries and envision new realities. We will study carefully fundamental Supreme Court decisions regarding slavery, civil rights, whiteness, immigration, citizenship, and native sovereignty and trace the rhetorical work needed to render race legally comprehensible but often illegal with respect to the national body. We will also look closely at the testimony given in the grand jury trials of the Ferguson shootings and of the Rhinelander case and watch a film by Jose Antonio Vargas on being an undocumented immigrant. And finally we will read literature by authors such as Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison, John Okada, Luis Valdez, and Nella Larsen, all of whom tell us what it means to live outside the law.