ABI Faculty Development Program Serving the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Students at BMCC and Hunter
Serving the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Students at BMCC and Hunter

Passing Strangely

Class information

ENG 320 – Multi-Ethnic American Literature

25 students

In this course, we consider how the expression of African, Asian, Judeo, Latina/o/x, and Native American writers has been bound and liberated by the complex language of race, ethnicity, class, and gender in the United States. Taking up poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, we will explore topics such as the literary use of code-switching, the politics of assimilation, and the tension between liberty and limitation in American literary discourse.

Project overview

Utilizing the course texts and the scholarly personal narrative format, students investigate the ways in which their identities shift consciously and unconsciously. The class theme is “passing” and is divided into 4 units and within each of these units, students will engage in responding to questions that focus on:

  • Perceptions of Race and Identity: How do your friends/family perceive you?
  • Being the Immigrant or Other: How do you perceive yourself?
  • Homelessness and Cosmopolitanism: How does the world perceive you? Where do you feel at home?
  • Black and Brown Futurism: Love, Resistance and Identity: What does the world need to look like/have so that you can be your full self at all times?

These are the questions in their simplest forms and can be expanded in many ways. Each paper is an MLA formatted 800 word response, again, utilizing the scholarly personal narrative.

Why did you select this project? How does it relate to identity and purpose?

I selected the project because I wanted students to have deeper engagement with the texts and what better way to do that than to apply/relate the text to your own life? It also seeks to illustrate commonalities across racial, gender, and cultural distinctions. Students integrate texts by a vast array authors and they begin to recognize that who they are is influenced by an ever-shifting set of social and cultural norms and that they have the ability to navigate, and even transcend those norms, to be their full self.

What advice do you have for other faculty who would like to implement a similar project?

I would tell faculty to go for it! This project is easily adjustable for other English or Humanities courses.

Related materials

The materials include the course description, outcomes, primary texts, and additional texts.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *