course
Novels of Immigration, Relocation, Diaspora

May 2016

After a full semester attending most of the lectures and all of the discussion sections, I've concluded that this course organizationally makes absolutely no sense. The books themselves, however, are for the most part really entertaining and well worth reading. Professor Gamber stated in no uncertain terms in the first two lectures, "if you don't believe white privilege exists, this is not the course for you," which I would think would self-select a group of pretty "social justice"-minded students (myself among them). However, Professor Gamber spends the rest of the semester lecturing to this imaginary student he made it explicitly clear from the beginning he didn't want in the class. The result is lectures full of entry-level social justice statements ("If you believe in equality between all genders, congratulations, you're a feminist."), which are usually redundant, kind of patronizing, and (as others have noted) often tangential to the actual book. Another reviewer wrote that Professor Gamber has a tendency to speak on behalf marginalized groups he is not a part of, which I would say is accurate. It can get pretty uncomfortable as a student of color in lecture, ironically. Because Professor Gamber's lectures focus largely on critical theory and historical phenomena surrounding the book, discussion about the actual novels gets relegated to a 50 minute discussion section. I really liked my TA, but 50 minutes per novel wasn't nearly enough time to really delve into the books. Your TA really makes or breaks this course, because they hold the discussion sections, and they do all the grading — what was actually really frustrating was that Professor Gamber withheld information on the midterm and final formats (even from the TAs) until the last class before each. (Ultimately, both exams were pretty easy). Professor Gamber didn't even show up for the final exam, which I found pretty telling. In general, I'd say Novels of Immigration is worth taking if you're really interested in the novels, because it's not at all a difficult course, and Professor Gamber's lectures, while pretty lackluster, aren't the real backbone of the course. I don't feel like it should count for Global Core, but apparently it does, so this seems like a fairly viable option. If you're in CSER or the English department, however, you'll likely find the course pretty bizarre and struggle to grasp what exactly you're meant to take away from it. As for Professor Gamber specifically, if you have similar politics to him (you hate the Core's Eurocentrism, you want to destroy the white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy), you might enjoy a seminar-style class with him, wherein you can actually engage with the books and his arguments about them.