ENGL 641-01: Latinx Literature Now
This graduate seminar focuses on literary and other cultural material produced by writers of US Latinx heritage published in the second decade of the twenty first century, as well as works of scholarship and criticism in Latinx literary studies, and literary studies more generally, in order to accomplish a number of learning goals for students, including: familiarizing them with an emerging body of literary and cultural work by artists hailing from the largest (and still growing) cultural minority population in the United States; creating opportunities for critical reflection on how national, comparative, and “minority” literatures (and cultures) mutually interact and inter-implicate one another; modeling how forms of cultural production can both shape as well as represent the historical moments of their emergence, that is, how they participate in determining what “feels” contemporary, or what presents itself, at the matrix of time and space, as the *present* present, the here and now; tracing a genealogy of critical and scholarly work that, more than commenting on the “primary,” creative material, also creates positive conditions for the historical endurance of that material through rigorous interrogation of its own operations as a discipline and as a matrix of interdisciplinary fields; and, finally, offering students opportunities to put theory into practice in their own reading, thinking, discussion, and writing. The Anglo-US signifier “Latinx” already announces that our work can only be happening now, in the current moment, and in a United States cultural and political context that struggles violently to know and to manage itself in the face of its increasing complexity and diversity. It also signals the necessarily intersectional as well as interdisciplinary nature of the course’s work, since “Latinx” demands being read not just as a complex marker of ethnicity and/or race, but also of gender, and of sexuality, and even of class, nation, and political orientation. Written assignments in the course will include opportunities to practice both close reading and critical analysis (of creative, critical, and scholarly work), as well as a longer research-based written study that will serve as the culminating term project for the course; the shorter assignments will also serve as the bases for in-class oral presentations.