21W.742J | Fall 2008 | Undergraduate

Writing About Race: Narratives of Multiraciality


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

In this course we will read essays, novels, memoirs, and graphic texts, and view documentary and experimental films and videos which explore race from the standpoint of the multiracial. Examining the varied work of multiracial authors and filmmakers such as Danzy Senna, Ruth Ozeki, Kip Fulbeck, James McBride and others, we will focus not on how multiracial people are seen or imagined by the dominant culture, but instead on how they represent themselves. How do these authors approach issues of family, community, nation, language and history? What can their work tell us about the complex interconnections between race, gender, class, sexuality, and citizenship? Is there a relationship between their experiences of multiraciality and a willingness to experiment with form and genre? In addressing these and other questions, we will endeavor to think and write more critically and creatively about race as a social category and a lived experience.

Class Assignments

This is a writing-centered course. Students will write a one-page response paper for each assigned text. There will also be two longer writing assignments: a 7-8 page critical essay responding to readings and screenings from the first month of the course, and a 12-15 page personal essay in which you will incorporate what you have learned through our critical/theoretical discussions of assigned texts into a creative exploration of your own experience – what Cherrie Moraga has called “theory in the flesh.” In addition, there will be short in-class writing exercises over the course of the semester.

Regular class participation is required. Students are expected to come to each session prepared to discuss the day’s texts, and every student will lead one class discussion. In addition, you will be expected to provide productive feedback on your peer’s manuscripts during workshops.


There will be three writing workshops during the semester in which students will break up into small groups and discuss each other’s critical and personal essays as works-in-progress.


You will receive individual grades for the two essays. Your final grade will be based upon these essays, the other contents of your portfolio (response papers and in-class assignments) and on your participation in class discussions and workshops.

Texts and Films

Please see the readings section for a detailed list of the Texts and Films used in this course.




Time Magazine, “The New Face of America” (selected articles)

In-class writing assignment


Dunning, “Brown Like Me”

Rekdal, “We Do Not Live Here…”

Zack, “American Mixed Race”


Ropp, “Do Multiracial Subjects Really Challenge Race?”

Perez, “How To Rehabilitate a Mulatto”

4 Review  

Moraga, “La Guera”

Anzaldua, “La Conciencia de la Mestiza”

Ortiz Cofer, “The Story of My Body”

Proposal for critical essays due one day after Ses #5
6 Workshop of critical essays  

Screening: Ngozi Onwurah, The Body Beautiful

David Hosley, A Beautiful Blend

Kip Fulbeck, Banana Split


Barry, One Hundred Demons

Discussion of films


Abel, La Perdida

In-class writing assignment

Critical essay due
10 Abu-Jaber, The Language of Baklava  

Abu-Jaber, The Language of Baklava (cont.)

In-class writing assignment


McBride, The Color of Water

In-class writing assignment

13 McBride, The Color of Water (cont.)  

Nunez, A Feather on the Breath of God

In-class writing assignment

Proposal for personal essay due
15 Nunez, A Feather on the Breath of God (cont.)  
16 Workshop of personal essays  

Senna, Caucasia

In-class writing assignment

18 Senna, Caucasia (cont.) First drafts of personal essay due

Adiele, Meeting Faith

In-class writing assignment

20 Adiele, Meeting Faith (cont.)  
21 Workshop of personal essays (revisions)  
22 Screening: Ozeki, Halving The Bones  
23 Discussion of Halving The Bones  

Ozeki, All Over Creation

In-class writing assignment

25 Ozeki, All Over Creation (cont.)  
26 Last class, reading and party Revised personal essay and portfolio of other written work due

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples