LITR 4338 American Minority Literature

Lecture notes

Consistent style of classes: student-centered

but also content-heavy--not just show what you came in knowing but what you've learned


No silver bullets in teaching, always trade-offs (evaluations)

different responsibilities: students in room, larger world's expectations

common sense and experience: build on what works, minimize what doesn't


Help students care, get them engaged not only with the content but with each other (trust, confidence, pleasure in personalities)


subject matter changes, attitudes evolve

I know more history about the subject than most of you want to hear about

You're living the life on the ground, with your friends, and all kinds of multicultural connections unavailable to me growing up

MAGA generation, perceived advantage: predominantly white society, with others marginalized

illusion, unjust, but attraction for people with skin my color of a shared national identity, some sense of unity, shared purpose


glorious possibilities & tragic shortcomings

Declaration of Independence

first African American president followed by embarrassingly racist man currently in office

moral zig zags, but right or wrong depends on how we're raised, the language we hear and use, and the history we're handed

history always complicates

e.g. President Obama was not a traditional African American but son of a white mother and an African exchange student

President Trump is about 5 years older than me, and though I admired a lot of people in that age group for joining the Civil Rights Movement, I keep learning how there were even more people in that age group who saw the Civil Rights Movement as a loss of their own prestige and privileges.

racial progress and racism seem to evolve together, and the only apparent freedom from those chains is ignorance

for those of us who don't want to be ignorant, there's no choice but to work with what we've got

in literature that's the voices and expressions of people who've led lives we might have led




literature also changes, but consistent ways to read it or learn from it, so fresh emphasis





student presentations

learn from each other in content and how to do them

I'll remind and follow up, but not scolding




Chrystos poem presentation

use primary objectives questions

lyric poem