English 6780 Topics in English Education, Fall 2019
Teaching Multicultural Literature:
Toward a Futurism Pedagogy?
"Instead of the past it is the future that haunts us now."
- Louise Erdrich in Future Home of the Living God
“Is our future a thing of the past?
- father in Sleep Dealer directed by Alex Rivera
Early in the 20th Century, emerging in Italy and spreading across Europe, Futurism was an artistic and social movement that explored modernity, youth, new technologies, new modes of industry and transport.
In the 21st Century, ethnic Futurisms, including Afrofuturism, Indigenous Futurism, and Chicano / Latin@ Futurism, are emerging to challenge dominant paradigms, assert the persistence, indeed resurgence, of previously marginalized groups, resist Western ways of knowing and ordering society, challenge rationality/reason/capitalism as inherent in the colonial project, and resist nature vs culture binaries and existing definitions of what it means to be human.
These new futurisms disrupt notions of dystopia as new or impending, instead emphasizing how military/police states, surveillance, social and environmental collapse and reconfiguration permeate the past and present.
They confront frightening futures and offer ways of seeing and being that might allow coping, even transforming possibilities in the present.
In Postcolonial Ecocriticism, Huggan and Tiffan write, “Global warming requires not just new ways of thinking beyond the human, but also a renewed attention to the long histories of slavery and colonialism, which need to be rethought in ecological terms..." New ethnic futurisms are doing this kind of work.
In a provisional and experimental way, this seminar will explore the pedagogical implications of the new futurisms. If multicultural, antiracist education has traditionally focused on understanding the present through the lens of the past, I wonder if futurism might allow us to see the past through the lens of the future, and, constructively, prepare us to live in the present with the future in mind.
The syllabus remains underconstruction as our understanding evolves.
The seminar welcomes and will be relevant to graduate students in English in literature, creative writing, writing studies, English education, and education generally. The seminar will support teaching relevant to diverse disciplines and interests.
Teachers need to be informed what is happening in their local communities and around the world. Students in this class are expected to read from a variety of news sources and are invited to bring issues to our class for discussion. WMU provides a free NYT subscription.
Since the seminar is discussion-based, attendance and preparation are essential to your own learning and to the learning of your classmates. Missing more than two weeks of the seminar will lower your grade and missing 3 or more may lead to failing. Study my philosophy regarding discussion, preparation, participation, attendance, grading, and learning -- and consider your own philosophy!
Your final course grade will be an average of grades for the major assignments,
listed and weighted below. At the hour scheduled for the final exam students
will present their final project.
1. Look at previous seminars, 6100 & 6780, prepare to read Lagoon
Sept 16: Afrofuturism
1. Read carefully through the entire on-line syllabus. Bring any questions about the syllabus and assignments to class.
2. Join our class phone message system, Remind. If you have a smartphone go to this page in your web browser and follow instructions: rmd.at/4bb266. If you don't have a smart phone text "@4bb266" to this number "81010". If you don't have a cell phone go to rmd.at/4bb266 and sign up for email notification.
Works with a futuristic element: Flight to Canada (Ishmail Reed), Mulatto (Langston Hughes)
Afrofuturism: Black Panther (film and comics), A Blade So Black (McKinney), Children of Blood and BoneSam, Heather, Katie, (Adeyemi), Akata Witch (Okorafor),
Akata Warriorem (Okorafor),
Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Adeyemi),
The Belles (Clayton), An Unkindness of Ghosts (Soloman),
The Jumbies (Baptiste), Nigerians in Space (Olukotan)
Dread Nation (Ireland), Moxyland & Zoo City (Beukes), AfroSF, 2015 online issue of Jalada Africa "AfroFutures 02" short story collection, Afro-futurist film from Africa including: District 9 (South Africa),
Pumzi (short from East Africa), Crumbs (Ethiopia). Afrofuturist Music
Oct 7: Afrofuturism and Educational Thought
Read the historical background and all of the selections. Then write a couple of pages comparing one educational thought piece with one Afrofuturist piece:
Brief Historical Background:
"Burning Books and Destroying People: How the World Became Divided Between Rich and Poor Countries," Bob Peterson
2. Read: from Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction: Introduction: "Imagining Indigenous Futurisms,"" "Custer on the Slipstream," "Aunt Parnetta's Electric Blisters," "from Flight," "Men on the Moon," "from Mindscape," "Distances," "When This World Is All on Fire," "from Almanac of the Dead," "from The Bird is Gone: A Monograph Manifesto."
1. Read a work of Native American literature or a new work of Indigenous futurism and prepare a presentations for the class making connections and proposing teaching ideas.
Traditional works you might choose from: Life Among the Piutes, Way to Rainy Mountain -Beth, Morning Girl -Allie, Fools Crow, Mean Spirit -Hana, Slash, Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fist Fight in Heaven - Cody, Katie suggests American Indians in Children's Literature as a good resource for finding materials.Huasipungo and Indigenist Literature - Mamen, "La noche boca ariba," & "La culpa es de los tlaxcaltecas" - Heather
Indigenous Futurism: Future Home of the Living God (Erdrich) -Shelly & Catrina, Mapping the Interior (Jones) - Sam, House of Purple Cedar (Tingle) -Katie, Robopocalypse (Wilson), Love Beyond Body, Space and Time (Nicholson), Deer Woman: An Anthology (Lapensée and Weshoyot), Monkey Beach (Robinson), Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An Indigeous LGBT Sci-fi Anthology, Take Us to your Chief (Taylor), Kynship (Justice), Mitêwâcimowina, The Swan Book (Wright), Trail of Lightening (Roanhorse) -Ellen & Linda The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (Kwaymullihna) - Trista, Riding the Trail of Tears, (Hausman), Flight (Alexie) - Hana, Fast Red Road (Jones), Refugees, (Amberstone), The Black Ship (William), Midnight Robber (Hopkinson) -Paula, Land of the Golden Clouds (Weller), The Moons of Palmares (Amadahy), Star Waka (Pushi), Almanac of the Dead (Silko), short films: The Sixth World, Wakening, The Path Without End.
Nov 4: Comparing Futurism Genres
1. Choose two or more works of ethnic futurism from different genres (literature, visual arts, music, clothing, design, etc.), write a few of pages comparing them and suggesting ideas for teaching about them, and plan to share with the class what you have learned.
2. Start writing your final project and plan to share some of your ideas with the class.
4. Start a Wix website that will eventually present your final project. On this site describe the course you plan to transform with a futurism approach, provide a partial/provisional description of some of the texts you plan to use (literary and otherwise), and perhaps describe a teaching idea. Eventually the site will have links, resources, etc. Time permitting you can begin those.
Nov 25: Chicano & Latin@ Futurism
1. Read a work of Chicano literature or a new work of Chicano or Latino Futurism and prepare an oral and written report for the class making connections and proposing teaching ideas
Chicano Literature you might read: Barrio Boy (Galazara), Bless Me Ultima (Anaya), House on Mango Street (Cisneros) ALLIE, YA works by Gary Soto, And the Earth Did Not Devour Him (Rivera), Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Saenz), Hummingbirds Daughter (Urrea), Always Running (Rodriguez), Borderlands/La Frontera (Anzaldua)