Monday, January 22, 2018

Writing Across Borders

Penn Students: I still have a few seats available in my Writing Across Borders class that meets on Wednesdays from 2 until 5 in Kelly Writers House (upstairs in room 203). Feel free to join the class.

Writing Across Borders, English 127.301

Butterflies and hurricanes pay no heed to borders, but humans will risk their lives to cross them, build walls to mark them and kill to defend them. At a moment when the number of displaced persons is just under one percent of the human race, more than at any time since the Second World War, and is projected to rise steeply over the next 30 years, questions of borders and identities are inescapable in our writing. This topic will define the next century. What does it mean to talk of American poetry?  How do our heritage(s) as citizen, resident, explorer, refugee, immigrant, tourist, trader, slave or raider condition the present and future of writing. How do race, class and gender enter in? This class will examine recent texts that explore these questions as well as look to the future. Authors under consideration will include (among many others) Caroline Bergvall, Amiri Baraka, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Aimé Césaire, Habib Tengour, M. NourbeSe Philip, Divya Victor and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We will watch films by Nikita Mikhalov and Ousmane Sembene. There will be opportunities to look at some of the theoretical and historical backgrounds of these issues if a student should so wish.

Required texts (not otherwise online)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Americanah
Caroline Bergvall, Drift
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Landtranslated & edited by Clayton Eshleman & Annette Smith with an introduction by André Breton
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee
M. NourbeSe Philip, Zong!
Habib TengourExile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Readeredited and translated by Pierre Joris
Divya Victor, Kith

     Major online resources
Poetry Foundation’s collection: Poems on Immigration
Eclipse Archive: The Black Radical Tradition
Leonard Schwartz: Cross Cultural Poetics

Recommended works
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities
Wendy Brown, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism,
C.S. Giscombe, Border Towns
Pierre Joris, A Nomad Poetics
Claudia Rankine et al, The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind
Ousman Sembene, any of his films, but especially 
CeddoBlack GirlXala and Moolaadé
TC Tolbert & Tim Trace Peterson, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics
Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
Heriberto Yépez
Transnational Battle Field (the strikethrough is intentional)