Instructor: Norton MWF 12:20 PM – 1:15 PM
The publication of Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt in January 2020 set off a firestorm of controversy so intense that Cummins’s publisher was forced to cancel her book tour due to death threats. Some Latinx writers and those who care about equality and diversity in the book publishing industry were concerned about and even angered by the attention and praise that Cummins had received as a white writer writing about the experiences of Mexican migrants. This class will address this and other controversies surrounding diversity in the publishing industry, including “cancel culture” and its role in the fray. We will read for ourselves some of the novels, nonfiction, and young adult fiction at the center of this contemporary maelstrom, as well as the voices that have objected to and supported the publication of these works. We will dissect the terms of the debate and think about where we, as readers, fit in and how these larger questions of diversity and inclusion influence how and what we read in contemporary American fiction. Works discussed will include Cummins’s American Dirt (2020), Amelie Zhao’s Blood Heir (2019), Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch (2011), Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance (2013) and others.