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Race in Contemporary American Culture: Film Lit.

ENGL 291.301
instructor(s):
MWF 1

This class will explore American discourses of race and ethnic identity in a variety of media and forms, in both popular culture and "high" culture. Although the course material will focus on films from both Hollywood and independent filmmakers, we will also read novels, drama, criticism, and essays to help us elucidate the signifiers and narratives of race. We will attempt to trace common strands of theme and imagery across the cultural productions of African Americans, Latina/os, Native Americans, and Asian Americans, and to investigate those moments where ethnic cultures merge or confront one another as well as the dominant American culture. We will examine identity politics and minority cultural nationalism, questions of class, gender, and sexuality, the status of the documentary, cultural appropriation, and the relationship of art to history and tradition. This is a seminar so attendance and participation are mandatory. There will be required weekly screenings. Films will likely include: Spike Lee, She's Gotta Have It; Wayne Wang, Chan Is Missing; Cheech Marin, Born in East L.A.; Alan Parker, Come See the Paradise; Rea Tajiri, History and Memory; Marlon Riggs, Black Is, Black Ain't; Jenny Livingston, Paris Is Burning; Allison Anders, Mi Vida Loca; Steven Spielberg, The Color Purple; Powwow Highway; Chameleon Street; and perhaps Woody Allen, Zelig. We will also read fiction and critical essays that address the cultural politics of image and representation. Course requirements will include a class presentation, two short papers, and one long paper.