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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Stephen H. Sumida
AES 212
Seattle Campus

Comparative American Ethnic Literature

Selected texts from the African-American, American-Indian, Asian-American, Chicano/Latino, and Euro-American traditions of American literature. Examines the American Dream, identity, community, conformity, individualism, and family. Explores themes of assimilation, double consciousness, meztiza consciousness, and wholeness as an introduction to multiple American voices in literary expression.

Class description

This course is "comparative" in method and approach to "American" literature by authors (or their subjects) for whom belonging to "ethnic" groups is important, meaningful, problematic, valuable, complex, dynamic, and critical. In the course we join these authors and their characters in questioning each term in the title of the course. While a text is the author's presentation of aspects of the subject, the texts are not to be treated as representations of entire groups; the course, however, does concern the study of historical, social, artistic, and aesthetic contexts that broaden our learning about what the individualized subjects of the texts may mean, and how.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The course emphasizes both "close" and "contextualized" (historicist) readings of literary texts, films, and other media. By a "comparative" method of study, we mean that the course, being "multiethnic" in scope, enables comparisons among the texts and histories studied.

Recommended preparation

Be prepared to attend lectures and quiz sections diligently. If you anticipate an absence from a Friday quiz section, consult your Teaching Assistant ahead of time. The most usual point of failure in this course is absence. The most usual source of success in this course is your ability to read the assigned texts closely and within their historical contexts, and to go on from there to write graded essays in which you argue your own understanding of the text and how you arrived at it.

Class assignments and grading

Two essays of five to six pages pages each, double spaced; plus twenty quiz questions sequenced throughout the quarter. Essay assignments and quizzes will be based on the required readings in the course, the lectures, and discussions both in lecture and in quiz section meetings.

Each essay counts for 40% of a student's course grade. The quiz scores and performance in quiz sections combined count for the remaining 20%.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Stephen H. Sumida
Date: 10/07/2008