Instructor: Prof. Maria Windell

In Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, the system established to help slaves escape literally runs steam engines through subterranean tunnels—a fantastic riff on nineteenth-century reality. The months the protagonist Cora spends hiding in a tiny attic space to small to stand up? They undersell the seven years Harriet Jacobs spent in a similar situation. This course will explore the ways contemporary ethnic US literature has adapted, revised, and remixed history to tell stories of the US past as, also, stories of the present. Recent historical novels have taken up narratives of the earliest days of colonial slavery, the nation’s founding, American Indian slaveholding and Indian Removal, the US-Mexico borderlands, and more. In order to more fully understand the contexts upon which these novels draw—the eras in which they are set—we will also read some of the historical texts that ground these contemporary remixes. Readings may include novels by Colson Whitehead, Toni Morrison, Carmen Boullosa, Tiya Miles, Laila Lalami, Yaa Gyasi, films including Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and the soundtrack to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. Sixteenth- to nineteenth-century readings might include texts by Frederick Douglass, Cabeza de Vaca, Aphra Behn, John Rollin Ridge, Harriet Jacobs, and Nat Turner.

Equivalent - Duplicate Degree Credit Not Granted: ETHN 4692 
Requisites: Restricted to students with 57-180 credits (Juniors or Seniors).
Additional Information:Arts Sci Gen Ed: Distribution-Arts Humanities
Departmental Category: Multicultural and Gender Studies