Multicultural Literature in the U.S.

I.     Course Prefix/Number: EGL 131

       Course Name: Multicultural Literature in the U.S.

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course explores the literary expressions of at least three minority ethnic, racial, religious or national groups of the United States, such as Chicano, Italian-American, Jewish-American, Muslim-American, Irish-American, Asian-American, Native American and/or African-American. Content includes study of social, historical and literary context, and terminology and methods of literary analysis and evaluation.

IV.   Learning Objectives

The student will learn to:

  1. Identify some of the important works, genres and periods of multicultural literature in the U.S.;
  2. Explain the distinctive themes and conventions of multicultural literature in the U.S.;
  3. Demonstrate ability to discuss and debate multiple interpretations of literary works, fostered by the methods of shared inquiry;
  4. Engage in close readings of literary texts as support for literary interpretation in classroom discussion and written assignments;
  5. Explain the complexities of race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, religion and class in multicultural literature in the U.S.;
  6. Delineate the social, intellectual, cultural, and historical influences specific to the development of multicultural literary works;
  7. Interpret the formal elements of these works, using appropriate literary terminology;
  8. Distinguish and apply multiple critical approaches to the analysis of literary texts.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Review of principles of the study of literature
  2. Overview of multicultural literature in the U.S.
    1. Definition and discussion of hyphenated identities and American culture
    2. Discussion of how multicultural literature in the U.S. intersects with the canon of American literature
    3. Review of traditional literary studies approaches to the teaching of American literature
  3. Sequence of units on the literatures of particular traditions (selected at instructor’s discretion.) (What follows are several possible units that could also be arranged thematically or chronologically)
    1. Jewish-American literature – readings from Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, Philip Roth, and Allegra Goodman
    2. Muslim-American literature—, Wajahat Ali, Ayad Akhtar, Malcolm X, Amiri Baraka, G. Willow Wilson, Ayad Akhtar
    3. Chicano/Latino literature – readings from Oscar Hijuelos, Juno Diaz, Sandra Cisneros, and Ana Castillo
    4. Chinese-American literature – historical reports on “Tong wars” and Chinese exclusionary acts of late 19th century, readings from H.T. Tsiang, Frank Chin, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Chang-Rae Lee
    5. Indian-American literature – readings from Agha Shahid Ali, Jhumpa Lahiri, Bharati Mukherjee, late-phase Salman Rushdie

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Course may be taught as a face-to-face, media-based, hybrid, or online course.

Lecture, discussion, and writing.  Instructors may also invite speakers to discuss their personal experience within particular minority cultures and organize field trips to ethnic neighborhoods and landmarks in the greater Chicago area.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Reading, writing, and testing; possibly oral presentations.  Instructors might consider requiring students to keep a reading journal in which they reflect on the many different kinds of literature they encounter.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Novels, short stories, poetry and/or drama by writers from diverse cultures in the U.S..  Films, audiovisual materials and/or guest lectures may be used when appropriate.

Suggested Text:

New Worlds of Literature: Writings from America's Many Cultures (Norton), Eds. Jerome Beatty and J. Paul Hunter

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

A minimum of three analytical essays to total a minimum of twenty pages.

A mid-term and final exam.

Instructors may consider requiring their students to write a broader essay reflecting on some aspects of the ethnic experience in America.

XI.   Other Course Information

Attendance policy

For whatever information/procedures the instructor holds the student accountable.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.