Course Overview & Policies

General Information

Course Title: Visions & Voices: Multiethnic Literature & Art

Meeting Time & Place: M/W 3:30-4:45pm in Bowman 324

Professor: Dr. Victoria Papa


Office: Mark Hopkins 108

Office Hours for Fall 2019: Tu/Th 3:30-5:00pm & by appointment

Syllabus as PDF: Visions and Voices – Fall 2019

Course Description

In this course, students will examine a range of multi-genre texts (fiction, poetry, memoir, photography, music, painting, new media) from multiethnic American writers, artists, and thinkers of the twentieth-century and beyond. Our study will focus on the cross-sections of multiethinicity and creative expression as it applies to questions of American identity. Major themes addressed include nationhood, immigration, marginalization, intersectionality, cultural hybridity, trauma and survival, border crossing, and heritage. Several divergent ethnic and racial groups will be explored including African American, Asian American, Jewish American, Latinx, and Native American. Throughout the semester, we’ll question how various social forces impact the cultural production, aesthetic inclinations, and philosophical perspectives of multiethnic artists, and we’ll trace these forces back through the thorny history of America’s colonial past. We’ll debate the so-called “melting pot” or “multicultural” nature of America: Is the diversity of America truly celebrated? Where and why do destructive ethnic hierarchies persist? How has art been a vital platform for staging radical statements against social and ethnic injustice?

Throughout the semester, we’ll approach these questions and others through the lens of a key idea: that multimodal, transmedia, or genre-crossing texts — texts which engage or work across multiple mediums/styles/genres/modes—are especially adept at conveying multiplicity. How multimodality might be specifically linked to multiethnicity is a pivotal inquiry that we’ll continually debate as we move through the course material.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will become familiar with an array of multi-genre texts that span the 20th- century and beyond in order to identify aesthetic conventions and thematic concerns characteristic of multiethnic art, literature, and media.
  • Students will establish a firm understanding of central inquires of multiethnic studies within an American context i.e. the role of multiculturalism in shaping American identity.
  • Students will examine current scholarly debates in cultural and American studies central to primary texts
  • Students will develop critical thinking, close-reading, and writing skills through a series of assignments: blog posts, mid-term essay, presentation, and final project.
  • Students will explore the key concepts of genre-crossing and transmedia storytelling through the study of key texts as well as their own multimodal presentations


I highly encourage open communication with my students on any class concern and/or assignment. I am available to meet with students during my office hours as well as by appointment. I am most quickly and easily accessible by email. I attempt to respond to emails in a timely manner (within 48 hours). If you don’t hear back from me within 48 hours, feel free to send me a polite reminder to respond. When emailing me, as well as all other professors, be reasonable and respectful with your requests. For instance,  utilize professional language (i.e. begin and end with a proper salutation). If a email exchange takes a more casual turn,  let it be on the professor’s terms, not yours.


Office: Mark Hopkins 108

Office Hours for Fall 2019: Tu/Th 3:30-5:00pm & by appointment

Required Texts

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

ISBN-10: 0307278441/ ISBN-13: 978-0307278449

Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior

ISBN-10: 0679721886 / ISBN-13: 978-0679721888

Art Spiegelman’s Maus 

ISBN-10: 9780679748403 / ISBN-13: 978-0679748403

Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem

ISBN-13: 978-1941040638 / ISBN-10: 1941040632

Attendance & Tardiness

Students are expected to attend all classes. More than 2 unexcused absences will lower your grade significantly, and more than 4 unexcused absences may result in automatic failure, regardless of class standing. Whenever possible, students should notify me prior to an absence from class and make up missed work within an agreed upon length of time after their absence. Students who expect to be absent from classes for three days or longer should contact the Center for Student Success and Engagement for help notifying their instructors. The complete college attendance policy can be found here.

It is also important to be in class on time. Repeated lateness is rude to your fellow students and disruptive to the learning process. For every 3 times you are late it will be counted as one absence. Furthermore, if you are more than ten minutes tardy then you will not receive credit for attending class that day.

Late Work

All assignments are due at class time on their listed due date. Work should be turned in  by posting it to Canvas at the appropriate time and in the appropriate place. If you know you are going to miss a class, make arrangements ahead of time to post assignment when it’s due.

If any assignment is posted late, I will mark it down one notch of a grade for every 24 hour period that it is tardy. For example, if a project earns a B grade, but it is handed in within a 24-hour timeframe following its due date, it will receive a B-. 48 hours, a C+, and so on. One exception for this rule is the final essay: no late papers will be expected for the final because of the quick turn-around time for submission of course grades.


Because this class functions as a seminar, your participation is essential to its effectiveness. Participation—in its multiples forms: large group discussion, small group discussion, pair work, etc.—counts toward 10% of your grade. If you come unprepared, without texts/reading materials, or unwilling to participate, I reserve the right to mark you as absent for that class.

When you’re in class, please make a sincere effort to stay on task. Texting and inappropriate internet usage during class time may result in you being asked to leave class and take an absence.


A college course is a community. In this community, we will all share our individual ideas, interpretations, and feelings about the literature at hand. Such sharing can be daunting. With that in mind, I would like to stress that all members of a community should respect the work and human dignity of others. Expressions of disrespect degrade the community and damage us all, and they will not be tolerated.

Collaborative Dialogue Guidelines (as adapted by the students of “Visions & Visions” in Fall 2019)

—Avoid use of racial slurs and outdated terms attached to histories of oppression. This guideline is particularly important for non-black individuals. 

—Honor the time & space it takes for people to gather thoughts and/or speak

—Be mindful of triggers. Remember everyone has unique life experiences; what affects you, may not affect someone else and vice versa

—Be attentive to inner red flags; check assumptions; reflect before speaking

—Aim to use “I” centered language when presenting dissenting opinions (I think, I feel)

—Cultivate curiosity through engaged listening; ask questions

—Respect boundaries; recognize the uniqueness of experience and feelings

Final Essay – Extended Office Hours / Office: Mark Hopkins 103b

Because we have a final essay in lieu of a sit-down final exam in this course, I will be holding extended office hours during finals week to workshop the drafts of your final essays in substitution of an exam meeting time. I encourage you to meet with me during these hours to discuss your final essay. Time and date of extended office hours will be  announced in December.

Academic Honesty

A college is a community of students and faculty interested in the search for knowledge and understanding. This requires a commitment to honesty and integrity. Honesty on the part of every college student is integral to higher education at Massachusetts College of Liberal 
Arts. Acts of dishonesty are not merely a breach of academic honesty but conflict with the work and purpose of the entire College Community.

Violations of academic honesty include but are not limited to:

* Submitting the work of others as one’s own
* Unauthorized communication during or about an examination
* Use of information (notes, electronic communication, etc.) that is not permitted during exams, tests, quizzes
* Obtaining or disseminating unauthorized prior knowledge of examination questions
* Substitution of another person in an examination
* Altering College academic records
* Knowingly submitting false statements, data or results
* Submission of identical or similar work in more than one course without the approval of the current instructor
* Collaborating on material after being directed not to collaborate
* Forging a signature or false representation of a College official or faculty member or soliciting an official signature under false pretense* Other behavior or activities in completing the requirements of a course that are explicitly prohibited by an instructor

So we are all on the same page, plagiarism is defined as:

The use of source materials of any kind and the preparation of essays or laboratory reports must be fully and properly acknowledged. In papers or laboratory reports, students are expected to acknowledge any expression or idea that is not their own. Students submitting papers are implying that the form and content of the essays or reports, in whole and in part, represent their own work, except where clear and specific acknowledgement is made to other sources. Even if there is no conscious intention to deceive, the failure to make appropriate acknowledgment may constitute plagiarism. Any quotation – even of a phrase – must be placed in quotation marks and the precise source stated in a note or in the text; any material that is paraphrased or summarized and any ideas that are borrowed must be specifically acknowledged. A thorough reordering or rearrangement of an author’s text does not release the student from these responsibilities. All sources that have been consulted in the preparation of the essay or report should be listed in the bibliography.

Formatting of Assignments 

Class assignments will use both Microsoft Word and Microsoft Power Point or another online presentation tool such as Google Slides. All students are required to have the Microsoft Office suite of products on their laptop and to use this software in the submission of assignments. This software is available for free download to all registered MCLA students. You can obtain your free copy of the Microsoft Office Suite by going to MCLA E-Academy. If you have difficulties install the software on your laptop, please contact the MCLA Computer Help Desk.

Additionally, in this course, all formal written assignments should follow the formatting guidelines and citation method of the Modern Language Association (MLA). In terms of formatting, writing should be double-spaced, with a proper heading, and in Times New Roman font. If you are unfamiliar with MLA, a quick and easy reference guide can be found here: Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab.

“Disability Resources” at the Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE)

In accordance with CSSE,

Students with documented disabilities are encouraged to meet with Katie Sutton, Assistant Director of CSSE, to complete an Accommodations Worksheet and to receive feedback on how to advocate for their accommodations with faculty. The accommodations that are granted must be reasonable and are based on documented need. It is the responsibility of the student to make an appointment each semester to develop the Accommodations Worksheet and deliver it to faculty. Students wishing to utilize accommodations should request them within the first four weeks of each semester.