The contact literature assignment is the last essay in the Language, Identity, and World Englishes course that I teach at NYU Shanghai (上海纽约大学). The contact literature analysis is used to give students a space to engage in an objective analysis of contact literature through the lens of the world Englishes paradigm. In the first iteration of this course, students could work from either Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy or Ha Jin’s collection of short stories, The Bridegroom.
Designing the Assignment
This assignment was designed for students to deploy all that they had learned about linguistics and world Englishes by using that knowledge to analyze linguistic creativity in a piece of contact literature. This assignment was also their chance to move toward the more objective academic analysis required of them in other courses at the university.
World Englishes and linguistic creativity are also research interests of mine. So, I wanted to develop an assignment that would open the door to possible collaborations between interested students and me. So, this task was designed to facilitate that. During the first iteration of this course, I ended up collaborating with four students to co-author an article for possible publication and to co-present versions of that paper at a few conferences.
Teaching the Assignment
When teaching this assignment, we begin with reading pieces on world Englishes theory and linguistic creativity. These readings include work by Yamuna Kachru, Cecil Nelson, Ha Jin and Edwin Thumboo. By this point in the course, we’ve also finished reading the pieces of contact literature that students can use as data for their analysis.
Then, we perform a dissection of an examplar essay. During this activity, we tear apart the sample piece to uncover how the world Englishes framework is deployed in the text to create a theoretical lens for analysis. Once this is complete, we talk about how the source texts are integrated to be used as examples for analysis. From there, students take time to draft their essays before meeting with me for one-to-one conferences. In these meetings, we discuss the strength of their analyses and methods for improvement.
Assessing the Assignment
To rate this assignment, I make use of a specially designed holistic, and the essay is evaluated based on its overall strengths of tone, message, and analysis.