Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2012
Coordinator(s)Professor Leah Garrett


In the course students will read and evaluate novels, short stories, and poems that focus on the experience of being a member of an ethnic and class group in America. A number of different topics will be explored including: what does it mean to be an American; how does the American 'melting pot' model exclude or marginalize the experiences of Native and African Americans; how do writers use a variety of narrative styles to convey their experiences; how do different immigrant groups, such as Jews, Latinos, and Asians, describe the impact of racism and class discrimination in their writings; how does poverty influence the understanding of race and vice versa.


On successfully completing this unit, students will have:

  1. Familiarity with an array of contemporary American writers;
  2. Understanding of the impact of racial categories on class in America and vice versa;
  3. Developed tools of comparative analysis when researching authors writing from different ethnicities and classes;
  4. Honed evaluative tools for approaching writers composing at the same time but from very different backgrounds;
  5. Understanding of the historical similarities and differences between race and class in America and in Australia;
  6. Understanding of the importance of economic issues to the processes of literary production;
  7. Developed oral and written communication skills;


Essay (2700 words): 60% + Class presentation and participation (450 words): 10%
Two response papers and three reading quizzes (1350 words): 30%

Contact hours

One 2-hour lecture per week

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Comparative literature and cultural studies
Creative writing
Literary studies (Creative writing, Literatures in English, International literatures)