Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

The Immigrant Writer: Teaching Multicultural Texts in the Composition Classroom

Instructor Tamara Miles.

Martin Espada, a Puerto Rican immigrant and political poet, examines the disparity between American and Puerto-Rican culture in the two poems selected for this presentation: "Coca-Cola and Coco-Frio," and "Liberating a Pillar of Tortillas." Toni Cade Bambara's short story "The Lesson" features a similar disparity between two social classes within America, and Jimmy Santiago Baca brings the division to the most intense and limited spaces of prison culture in his poem "There Are Black." These writers encourage students to think critically about power, education, and the effectiveness of written expression. I will outline a number of approaches to teaching their works, including a variety of supplementary materials (audio, video, computer resources) that extend the messages of the texts. More importantly, I will present the kinds of writing assignments that are most effective in getting students to respond not only to what we study in class but to the opportunities for learning about diversity that they encounter in their daily lives.


Instructor Tamara Miles  (United States)
English Department, First Year Writing Program
State University of West Georgia

I received a Master's degree in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2000, and I have been teaching at the State University of West Georgia for two and a half years.

  • Language
  • America
  • Spanish
  • Illegal aliens
  • Folklore
  • Social class
  • Capitalism
Person as Subject
  • Espada, Martin Bambara, Toni Cade Baca, Jimmy Santiago

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)