Literature, Culture, and American Identities

Course Description

Situating the U.S. in a global context, we will read a range of authors (from James Baldwin and J.D. Salinger to Gloria Anzaldua and Toni Morrison) whose texts raise questions about the relationship between literature, culture, and American identities. We will look at how “America” itself has been depicted in print and other media, while exploring literature’s role in the construction and representation of national, group, and personal identities.

We will also examine several films and television programs, such as Spike Lee’s Bamboozled and ABC’s new sitcom Fresh off the Boat, to better understand how categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, language, and identity have come to define citizenship and national belonging. Through close readings, we will consider themes and theories of nationalism and globalization, immigration and border-crossing, individualism and multiculturalism, community and justice.


There are no specific prerequisites for this course. Students should be seeking to reflect on how their own personal experiences and attitudes have been shaped by cultural and literary representations of American identities and differences.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 25, 2022 - August 05, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 12:15P-3:05P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Arlen Austin
Course Number: 10283