What are human rights? How did this concept begin and where? How can literature and media engage with human rights as a discourse and a practice? How do Latina/o/x, Native American and African-American writers and artists engage with human rights discourses in their works? In this course we will be reading/viewing texts that deal with the issue of human rights through a variety of genres and media prevailing in the 20-21 st centuries. We will explore how novels, poems, essays, songs, podcasts, and films engage with human rights issues and discourses by construction a template for narrative empathy in the United States and beyond. Furthermore, we will investigate how these genres and media use modernist and postmodernist aesthetics in order to directly engage with and reconstruct ideas governing national and cultural identity. In addition to literature and media, we will also read several historical and critical theory pieces by scholars from Gloria Anzaldúa to Lynn Hunt, helping us to understand how Latina/o/x, Native American and African-American literature and media contribute to developing human rights discourses around topics such as immigration, race, sexual identity and historical representation.
Possible Books and Course Reader for Purchase:
The Mixquiahuala Letters by Ana Castillo
Tracks by Louise Erdrich
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Note: A course reader with short stories, poems and theory pieces by Ana Castillo, Helena Maria Viramontes, Gloria Anzaldúa, Sherman Alexie, Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros, Maya Angelou, Lynn Hunt, and others, will be available for purchase as well.
Films (will be made available)
Made in LA
Media (will be made available)
Radiolab podcast episode: The Case of Baby Veronica
Identify how Latina/o/x, Native-American, and African-American writers and artists reflect on issues of human rights through their engagement with power, gender, sexuality, and race dynamics.
Think critically about each primary text by employing the skill of analytical close-reading (the use of small details to make a larger point). This includes being able to pull apart and understand the nuances of any text, photo, etc. and use these details to construct a convincing and original argument about the text.
Communicate efficiently during in-class discussion and thus developing argumentative and critical thinking skills.
Connect the main points of our readings to larger real world contexts. For instance, what are the social, political, and cultural implications of the Latina/o/x/African-American/Native- American texts we encounter? What could they mean for the daily lives of Latina/o/x/ African-American/Native- American people? For our own local and national communities? How do these authors employ an understanding of human rights within their works in order to make a larger political claim?