This fall, I am teaching a survey course in American Literature. While I think my previous syllabi for this course have been non-traditional, this time I am opening up the flood gates. Instead of teaching what we might call “American Literature,” I am deliberately challenging the very idea of a single, identifiable “American” anything. And if I get this syllabus approved, I will have one of the most intense, awesome fall teaching experiences ever…
Update: I thought I’d toss out some statistics so you’d see how my syllabus holds up in terms of its gender split, etc.
Male authors: 13 (fiction); 4 (non-fiction)
Female authors: 9 (fiction)
In all honestly, I had a hell of a time trying to find female authors in Central and South America who fit all my criteria. I intentionally tried to avoid pre-1900 and post-2000 works, though there are a handful here. That unfortunately meant that a lot of the important Central and South American female writers (at least from my research) got bumped out. From there, it all went downhill, as almost every female author from that region either didn’t have anything in translation, their works didn’t fit the political/cultural/social concerns for my course, or the translations I could find were for novels that were too darn long. I think the longest novel I have on my list is 287 pages. One author I had to drop from the novel list was Isabel Allende, whose The House of the Spirits is over 400 pages long. I selected a short story by her instead.
I say all of this as a semi-plea to any of you who are familiar with the literature of the area. In particular, I would like to include a few women from Central America (you can see I have none whatsoever). I just can’t seem to find any of them, either because they don’t exist, have been ignored, or haven’t been translated. Granted, I could be very wrong.