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Caramelo in the Classroom: Approaches to Teaching Ethnic American Literatures

March 14, 2013
60 Willard Building
4:00-5:30 p.m.

This roundtable uses Sandra Cisneros’s novel Caramelo, the 2013 community read selection, as a touchstone for a broader discussion on approaches to teaching ethnic American literatures.  What challenges do instructors face when seeking to teach a novel like Caramelo and works by other ethnic American writers in the classroom?  What strategies do they employ (or not employ) to respond to such challenges?  Three panelists will deliver opening remarks on the roundtable topic.  A general discussion between the panelists and the audience will ensue.

Featured Invited Panelist:

Lorraine Lopez, award-winning Latina writer and Associate Professor of English at  Vanderbilt University.  Professor Lopez’s short story collection, Soy la Avon Lady and Other Stories (2002) won the inaugural Miguel Marmól prize for fiction.  Her second book, Call Me Henri, was awarded the Paterson Prize for Young Adult Literature in 2007, and her novel The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters was a Borders/Las Comadres Selection for the month of November in 2008.  In 2010, her short story collection Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories was a Finalist for the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Prize.  Lopez’s recent publications include a novel, The Realm of Hungry Spirits (2011), and a collection of essays, The Other Latin@: Writing against a Singular Identity (2012), coedited with Blas Falconer.

Penn State Participants:

Toni Jensen, Native American writer and Assistant Professor of English.  Professor Jensen is author of the short story collection From the Hilltop (2010) and teaches creative writing and Native American literature.

Tina Chen, Associate Professor of English.  Professor Chen teaches courses on contemporary ethnic American literatures and is the author of Double Agency: Acts of Impersonation in Asian American Literature and Culture.