Thursday, January 28, 2016

(Almost Entirely) a Third Culture Literature Seminar

Despite the big snow storm (Jonas!) and the kids being out of school, I am enjoying a quiet hour at work (Mmmmm: work!) getting ready for class.

The title of my 300 level seminar "Overseas: When World Travelers Write" is meant to tantalize and appeal to students at my college, where study abroad is mandatory.  It conceals the fact that the course is pretty much a third culture literature seminar (barring Saro-Wiwa,  and MIA,  who are not really TCKs but are perhaps more "immigrants" in the fine splicing and dicing of terminology).

Check out my blurb:

Course Description:

This course examines different kinds of writing about being “overseas.” We start by examining a non-fiction travel narrative (Noo Saro-Wiwa’s Looking for Transwonderland).  Then we consider two memoirs, the first by Canadian/American/ Zimbabwean Alexandra Fuller (Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight), the second by Sri Lankan/ British/ Canadian Michael Ondaatje (Running in the Family).  Michael Ondaatje is, among other things, a third culture author (one raised as an expatriate outside his passport home).  His memoir leads us in to a consideration of what third culture is and from there to fiction by other third culture authors (Joseph O’Neill’s The Dog, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden).   We conclude the course with a satirical, futuristic novel about Islam in France by another third culture author, Michel Houellebecq’s Submission.

My strategy is: get them in the room, and then teach them about TCKs.  Usually part way through the course some students start revealing themselves as TCKs, or start saying things like "ooooh.  I had a friend who . . . and she was  . . . "

Last semester was a writing-course intensive one for me, as you may have noticed from the dearth of blog posts.  I am so excited to be back in the world of world literature.  In a freshman course I get to teach, among other things, TCK Jane Alison's Natives and Exotics.  I also get to go to the British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference in Savannah in February to talk about DBC Pierre as a TCK.

Happy new year to you, and to me!  Expect this blog to see more action in the upcoming months.

PS  a helpful reader (Elizabeth Liang of the solo show Alien Citizen) suggested I look at a course called "Growing up Global" taught by Wendy Belcher.  Belcher's course is fantastic, and the description is replete with TCK offerings.  Find it here.


  1. This is so fascinating! I am a writer, teacher, and TCK, and I have always wondered what kind of "TCK literature" is out have made it so easy to start building a reading list. Thank you!

    1. So glad to hear this! Check out my increasingly unwieldy list of TCK authors for more as well: