In this course we will study recent critical attention paid to "diaspora" within literary and cultural studies. Much of the literary and theoretical writing that is now grouped under the framework of "diaspora studies" follow a few key issues. Foremost among these are discussions of roots, of travel away from and return to a homeland, negotiations with the hostland, the marginalization of diasporic cultural production in a world that is organised into nations, memory, history writing, the anxiety over authenticity, gender inflections, transnationalism, and generational dynamics. We will focus on these and other related issues in this course.
The cultural texts (fiction, film, music) chosen for this course will enhance our understanding of some specific and disparate diasporas -- African, Cuban, Chinese, Indian, Iranian, Palestinian etc. In addition there will be ample discussion on the more general level of "Diaspora Studies." We will read some of the major theorists of diasporic cultural production: Rey Chow, Paul Gilroy, Lisa Lowe, Vijay Mishra, Coco Fusco, R. Radhakrishnan, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Khachig Tololyan, Gay Wilentz and others. We will read diasporic fiction such as No Telephone to Heaven by Michele Cliff, Dreaming in Cuban by Christina Garcia, Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn, Men in the Sun by Ghassan Khanafani, A House for Mister Biswas by V.S. Naipaul, and Shame by Salman Rushdie. We will also view and discuss Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash, Bhaji on the Beach by Gurinder Chadha and The Great Wall by Peter Wang.
Requirements: Seminar participants are required to do all the assigned reading as well as attend and participate in class. They are also required to view the assigned films before they are discussed in class. Each participant will make one class presentation and prepare a short paper (3 to 4 pages) extending the analysis proposed in the presentation. This presentation is due as assigned and the written version is due in the following class meeting. All participants will write five one-page, intense, focussed essays that discuss one of the assigned readings. These essays are due in class on the day the assigned reading will be discussed and no later. Each participant will chose two recent scholarly books in the field of diaspora studies from a master-list and prepare two short (1500-2000 word) academic book reviews. These reviews will be circulated to all seminar participants in the sixth and eleventh weeks of the semester. Our plan will be to submit revised versions of these reviews for publication in academic journals.