4 Credit Hours
As a nation and as individuals, we rely on stories of ascension to prove that those willing and reasonably able to learn, work hard, and create something worthy can rise in our society. Yet these tales, which in one sense work to show fairness in our system and provide inspiration and hope, simultaneously complicate and contest these ideals. Accounts of individuals who beat the odds in ther moves "up" inherently reveal that there are odds to beat. At the same time, however, individual efforts are sometimes bound to collective yearnings and struggles. In this course, we'll explore tensions and contradictions embedded in these narratives, paying attention to how they affect us individually and what work they do in our society. We'll examine stories (nonfiction accounts, novels, poems, movies, and songs) of individual or collective ascension-- or attempted and perhaps failed ascension. Texts will likely include Francisco Jimenez's trilogy chronicling his and his family's lives as (initially) undocumented migrant workers from his early childhood through his undergraduate years, and local author Mike Puddnhead's WAGES SO LOW YOU'LL FREAK, the story of his and his coworkers' efforts to build a local fast food workers' union. Other texts may possibly include parts of Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, Frederick Douglass's narrative, Ann Petry's bestselling novel, THE STREET, and Aravind Adiga's WHITE TIGER, an American style ascension narrative enacted in contemporary India. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing.