Although this class starts by critically examining the term “ethnic” as it pertains to a wide range of cultural forms over three centuries, we will focus mostly on contemporary writers. Questions to consider will include: How has ethnic writing changed American culture and renovated forms of literary expression? What are the varieties and nuances of what we might call an ethnic subjectivity?  What could it mean to harbor fugitives within the self: transgressive thoughts or a “foreign” identity? And what is the future of “ethnic” literature in a global space?
This seminar will address a number of the following authors:  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,  Dion Boucicault, Jade Chang, Sandra Cisneros, Samuel Delany, Junot Diaz, Louise Erdrich, Harriet Jacobs, Brendan Jacob Jenkins, Jhumpa Lahiri,  Ayana Mathis, Toni Morrison, Art Spiegelman. Students may also take advantage of the MELUS (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States) conference, sponsored by the Literature Section in April 2017, which will bring writers and scholars of ethnic literature to MIT.