Dislocated Narratives
General Catalog Course Title:
Introduction to Comparative Literature
Terms Offered:
Fall 2016
Fall 2015

In this course we will consider a variety of written and cinematic texts, largely produced in the last decades of the twentieth century, all of which foreground the movement of individuals or communities across national borders.  Over the course of the semester, we will discuss a number of interrelated questions: how do contemporary immigrant writers attempt to come to terms with the profound historical ruptures and geographic displacements brought about by the experience of transnational movement?  How do they seek to render into language and narrative the confusion of conflicting cultural structures, and in what ways are their characters defined and deformed by their status as immigrants?  How do these authors represent immigrant bodies as objects that circulate within transnational circuits, variously commodified, eroticized, or pathologized?  How are the categories of gender and sexuality inflected by histories of migration?  In our discussions, we will consider the specificity of each text while remaining open to insights made possible by reading comparatively.  In other words, our goal will not be to synthesize a monolithic theory of immigrant literature but rather to analyze individual texts while attempting to be attentive to common textual strategies, formal elements, and practices of representation.  Readings are subject to change, but will likely include Agha Shahid Ali, selected poetry; Azouz Begag, Shantytown Kid; Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory; Fatou Diome, The Belly of the Atlantic; Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy; le thi diem thuy, The Gangster We Are All Looking For; Ousmane Sembène, “The Promised Land”/La Noire de…; Leïla Sebbar, Sherazade; Stephen Frears, dir., Dirty Pretty Things.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.