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Literature: Migration Matters: Voices and Visions of Multicultural America


Admission Requirements



From its foundation, the United States has perceived itself as a nation of immigrants. However, this phrase obscures the fact that a significant minority of Americans are descendants of forced migration from their native lands to Indian reservations, southern plantations, and later urban areas. Sharing a history of dislocation and discrimination on the one hand and political and cultural resistance on the other, immigrant and minority writers imagine and give voice to alternative, multicultural and multiethnic, national and transnational communities. In this course we will study works by Jewish American, Native American, African American, Chicana and Latino American, and Asian American writers as well as a few movies (John Sayles’s Lone Star, and Sherman Alexie’s Smoke Signals). We’ll examine the ways in which first- and second-generation immigrants and descendants of forced migrants give literary and cultural expression to the themes of diaspora and home(land); borders and border crossings; exile and otherness; language and silence; gender and sexuality; memory and identity; intercultural and generational conflict and reconciliation; race and ethnicity. We will also read a few theoretical texts about migration and ethnicity.

Course Objectives

This course aims to develop students’ analytical and critical skills through in-depth reading of literary texts and a few films in their historical and cultural contexts. This course will also introduce students to some basic concepts in migration and ethnic studies.


The timetable will be available from July 1 onwards on the Department website.

Mode of Instruction

Two-hour seminar per week.


Oral presentation and discussion (25%) and essay (4000 words; 75%).


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers (Persea Books)

  • Gloria Naylor, The Women of Brewster Place (Penguin)

  • Louise Erdrich, Tracks (Harper Perennial)

  • Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water (Bantam)

  • Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (Vintage)

  • Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderland/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, 3rd ed. (Aunt Lute)

  • Julia Alvarex, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (Plume)

  • Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory (Vintage)

  • Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation (Vintage)


Students can register through uSis.

Contact information

English Department, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103c. Phone: 071 527 2144, or mail:


This course is open to students who wish to specialize in American Studies (including history students) as well as to any other MA students.