“Teaching is performed in generosity; learning is accomplished in joy.” -Louise Cowan, PhD

Aurelia Ann VonTress

ENGL 3920: Survey of Ethnic Literatures

Spring 2018: (Don’t) Mind the Gap: An Exploration of Literature by US Women of Color From 1970 to now

This class, while a literature class, is in a sense multidisciplinary, and adopts a relational approach to explore U.S. women-of-colors’ histories, theories, cultures, consciousness, and lives from a variety of perspectives. Readings, discussions, and writing assignments will focus especially on womanist/feminist issues related to conflict, racism, agency, survival, resistance, intervention, and transformation. Our topics will be explored through diverse texts, including novels, drama, essays, poetry, and documentary films. 

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to: 

  • critically analyze the intersectionality and interrelationality of identities, especially as they impact U.S. women of colors.
  • Reflect insightfully on writing by women-of-color and their interventions into so-called “mainstream” feminist theory.
  • Accurately identify some of the historical and contemporary roles class, color, gender, sexuality, and other social differences play in shaping identity.
  • Reflect insightfully on the spaces of both tension and similarity between WOC narratives and mainstream American literature.
  • Accurately use literary theories, including but not limited to those of Anzaldua, Keating, and Goeman as well as decolonial theory, to analyze and critique American literature.
  • Successfully (re)map their own understandings of the geopolitics of knowledge.


  • Ceremony. Leslie Marmon Silko. 1977.
  • Woman Warrior. Maxine Hong Kingston. 1976.
  • Interpreter of Maladies. Jhumpa Lahiri. 1999.
  • The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing. Mira Jacobs. 2014.
  • Kindred. Octavia Butler. 1979.
  • The Woman Who Owned the Shadows. Paula Gunn Allen. 1983.
  • Sister Outsider. Audre Lorde
  • The Flower in the Skull. Kathleen Alcala. 1999.
  • So Far From God: A Novel. Ana Castillo. 2005.
  • Borderlands. Gloria Anzaldua. 1987.

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