ENGLISH 200: LABOR, MIGRATION, AND CONFLICT IN LITERATURE

Prof. George Potter

“Words slide down my throat / like velvet rivers and outside / is a tiny echo calling me / as I travel and move / from one continent to the next, / move, to be whole.”

---Nathalie Handal, Strangers Inside Me

 Movement and work have long been parts of the human experience, as people attempt to create, finance, and relocate homes and communities, by choice, force, and circumstance. The movement of these laborers has often created conflict in the surrounding communities, whether it be the struggles between laborers and their managers (or owners, in some cases), or between disparate communities competing for limited resources and capital.

 This course will examine literature from around the world, both originally in English and in translation, from a variety of genres that broadly engage the theme of Labor, Migration, and Conflict across five areas of focus: Labor and Property; Colonial Contact; Migration and Displacement; Resources and Land; and Globalization, Resistance, and War. Within this theme, students will examine novels, short stories, plays, poetry, film, and a graphic novel drawn from five continents and across a number of time periods in order to expose students to a wide range of literary styles, genres, and periods.

 Given this, the primary goal of the course will be to expand students’ appreciation of multiple literary traditions, as well as their understanding of the formal instruments used in creating the texts under examination. Secondly, students will develop their critical thinking and writing skills in order to more critically and coherently express their understanding of the works under discussion. Thirdly, students will gain a basic knowledge of different historical and cultural contexts of literary production. Finally, students will be exposed to a range of opinions, ideas, and experiences related to the course theme.