Modern Multicultural Voices
Students from Molly Gotwals’ course Modern Multicultural Voices met at her home on January 15 to enjoy the warmth of a fire and tea while wrapping up their discussion of Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen. Students presented findings from scholarly articles they read about Yoshimoto over the weekend and Gotwals then provided an introduction to their next novel Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.
Modern Multicultural Voices is a senior elective examining works by authors with roots from around the world. As our American identity gains more global perspective, voices from cultural backgrounds mingle in the modern literary market. The elective encourages students to consider the influence of cultural backgrounds on modern life and the many differing outlooks these backgrounds bring to readers. The small class of eight lends itself to a safe environment to consider questions of difference and the occasionally challenging topics presented by its authors.
Gotwals comments, “The students have been eager to engage with both the texts and the issues they present. We started with Phoebe Robinson's You Can't Touch My Hair, which launched us into lively conversations about microaggressions and helped us set the expectations for civil discourse around sensitive subjects. Concurrent with that study, we read a variety of poems collected by Naomi Shihab Nye in a volume titled What Have You Lost? This allowed us to explore overlapping themes in the essays and poems. Perhaps what has interested me the most in this nascent course is how motivated the students are to actively engage in conversations relevant to these modern multicultural voices.”
Authors studied thus far include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Shabnam Nadiya, Sequoia Nagamatsu, Petina Gappah, Lauri Kubuitslle, Banana Yoshimoto, Phoebe Robinson, Laura Esquivel, Roxanne Gay, and Marjane Satrapes.