E 142 Reading Without Borders
Overview of Course
Although borders are created to separate “us” from “them,” whenever and wherever geographic borders are created, they also engender borderlands, geopolitical spaces where people, languages, histories and cultures edge each other. This course will first examine multiple and distinct forms of borders and borderlands and why both necessarily give rise to border crossing, the intentional and sometimes transgressive movement across geographic, linguistic, economic, social and cultural borders. Next, we will explore how literary texts written by men and women from the locations selected for this Semester at Sea Voyage, from Asia, North and sub-Saharan Africa, represent borders, borderlands and border crossings in at least two distinct ways. On one hand, in some texts, borderlands are delineated as liminal, chaotic spaces of difference, conflict and confusion, as spaces of longing and loss. On the other hand, in other texts, that same borderland space of liminality and chaos is represented as a space of transformation and innovation, as a seedbed of creativity. Using poetry, essays, short stories and one novel, we will identify how literary texts can simultaneously construct and disrupt borders and how borders, borderlands and border crossing necessarily demand new and different ways of reading and understanding. Course selections will also delineate the ways in which borders, borderlands, and border crossings ultimately demand new definitions of identity.