21W.731-4 Writing and Experience

As taught in: Spring 2002

Photograph of a fountain pen in front of a grey fabric background.

Fountain pen. (Image courtesy of Daniel Bersak.)

Level:

Undergraduate

Instructors:

Elizabeth Fox

Course Description

MIT students bring rich cultural backgrounds to their college experience. This course explores the splits, costs, confusions, insights, and opportunities of living in two traditions, perhaps without feeling completely at home in either. Course readings include accounts of growing up Asian-American, Hispanic, Native American, and South-East Asian-American, and of mixed race. The texts include selections from Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior, Kesaya E. Noda's "Growing Up Asian in America," Sandra Cisneros's Woman Hollering Creek, Gary Soto's "Like Mexicans," Sherman Alexie's The Toughest Indian in the World, Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, the movies Smoke Signals and Mississippi Masala, Danzy Senna's Caucasia, and others. We will also use students' writings as ways to investigate our multiple identities, exploring the constraints and contributions of cultural and ethnic traditions. Students need not carry two passports in order to enroll; an interest in reading and writing about being shaped by multiple influences suffices.