WGS 345 • 39-GEND, SEXUALITY, MIGRATN-W
The history and culture of the United States and the larger Americas have been profoundly shaped by migrations, including colonization by European peoples and the resulting displacements of indigenous peoples; the African diaspora forced by slavery and the Great Migration from South to North; the shifting and unstable border between the U.S. and Mexico; the arrival through Ellis Island and other ports of Eastern and Southern Europeans; the long and multiple histories of immigrants from Asia and legislative acts of exclusion against them; the movement of gays and lesbians to urban centers; the arrival of refugees from war and genocide, and contemporary transnational and diasporic connections with nations and regions around the world. Although migration is sometimes represented as a threat to the integrity of the nation, it is, in fact, at the center of it.
We will explore the impact of this history by reading contemporary literature mostly by women, with particular attention to how migration is shaped by gender and sexuality. We will consider how literature, with its attention to the relation between personal and historical experience, provides an especially valuable document of migration and intervenes in public discourse about it. The course will also provide students with an opportunity to reflect critically on the their own national identities as residents, and in some cases, citizens of the U.S. - what does it mean, and what can it mean, to be "American"?