HC 221H: Where I’m From, Who I Am: Stories of Migration in World Literature

Professor: Susanna Lim

4.00 credits

  • CRN 26154: Wednesday & Friday, 1015-1145 @ REMOTE
  • CRN 26155: Wednesday & Friday, 1215-1345 @ REMOTE

“Are you from South Korea?” This was the first question that Donald Trump asked Joseph Choe in 2015 when the twenty-year-old Harvard University student attempted to question the then-Republican presidential candidate’s position regarding US-South Korea relations. Trump’s knee-jerk response/question to the Texas-born, Colorado-raised Korean-American speaks volumes about the main themes of this course: migration, identity, race, ethnicity, and their relationship to storytelling, language, and culture.  This course examines the significance of migration, immigration/emigration, exile, displacement, diaspora, and notions of home and belonging in the stories we tell about our lives and in the shaping of our identities (Although the historical and political context of migration will be a part of our discussions, please note that this is not a contemporary political or historical course on U.S. immigration). Rather, we will look at migration as a universal human experience through the narrative mediums of literature and film, in American and world literature and culture.  Readings include ancient literature (selected passages from The Odyssey and the Hebrew Bible), A Mercy by Toni Morrison (2008), Princess Bari (a 2007 novel about a North Korean refugee), graphic novels (Chinese Born American; Ms. Marvel), The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini, 2003), and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz, 2007). We will also view and discuss films (Comrades: Almost A Love Story, 1996, Hong Kong). In addition to the texts I have chosen, you are encouraged to add to our reading list one work dealing with migration of your choice.