Return Journeys: Second-Generation Americans Explore "Home" and Identity

In this course, we will read from recent works by children of immigrants who, having grown up in the United States, return to their parents’ countries of origin to live, travel, or work. These writers are driven to explore the contemporary reality of the cultural homelands that their parents left behind, yet continue to regard with deep nostalgia. The accounts of these “return journeys” are fascinating on two levels: as insightful portraits of places and cultures largely unfamiliar to us; and as quests for self-understanding and wholeness by second-generation Americans. Students taking this course will gain a deeper understanding of other cultures, and of the role a “roots journey” can play in resolving dilemmas of bi-cultural identity. Readings include excerpts from the following books: Half and Half: Writers on Growing up Biracial and Bicultural, edited by Claudine Chiawei O’Hearn (1998), Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham (1999), Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni (2005), and India Calling by Anand Giridharadas (2011).

Instructor: Hila Yanai

5 THURSDAYS: MARCH 6, 13, 20, 27 AND APRIL 3 | 3–4:30 P.M.


Hila Yanai

HILA YANAI has taught courses on immigrant literature in the GLS Program at Wesleyan and at the University of Connecticut/Hartford Campus. These courses explored the theme of bicultural identity in contemporary fiction, short stories, and memoirs by immigrants to the United States and their children. As an immigrant herself (from Israel), she has a strong personal as well as academic interest in cross-cultural issues. She holds a PhD in American studies from Yale University, served as an intercultural trainer in several European countries, and was a feedback coach at Rensselaer at Hartford.