All readings are either on public websites or are downloadable as .pdf files; both types are linked below.
This class meets Tuesdays only, and only selected Tuesdays at that. Before midnight on the indicated Mondays, a paper draft will be be due via Canvas, based on the readings indicated. (I call these papers, but no physical paper will be involved this semester.) Each paper assignment has an individual prompt.
On each Tuesday indicated, we will meet to discuss the readings and your paper drafts. If we are forced online, the Tuesday discussions will happen online, probably synchronously but in some format. This section of 3371 is a collaborative course, so there is a possibility that some Tuesday meetings may occur synchronously online if a given guest instructor chooses that option; you will get plenty of notice.
On each Thursday that follows a Tuesday discussion, a final version of your paper for that week will be due. For each, make some revision in the light of class discussion. You do not have to change your mind drastically, but do incorporate what you've heard from the instructor and your fellow students.
There are no standard length or format requirements for the papers, unless expressly indicated in a specific assignment. Content is far more important than technical specifications.
Attendance and grading:
I cannot require attendance during a pandemic. Conversely, if I get sick, please be patient with my own attendance.
No matter how the course is ultimately "delivered," your grade will be based on the number of acceptable papers submitted on time. Six of six gets you an A. Five is a B, four a C, and less than four an F. Most papers will be acceptable. Examples of failures will be those that fail to attempt the task at all; trying is much more important than getting things right.
Tues 1 Sept: introductions
Mon 14 Sept: draft #1 due by midnight. Readings: Baldwin, Letter from a Region in My Mind; Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew (pages 1-38 only). Paper assignment: Describe an example of racism or analogous hostility that you have observed (from any perspective). Engage both Baldwin and Sartre. How do their ideas help you think about this hostility? How do your example, and your thinking about it, show limits to, or problems in, the thinking of Baldwin and Sartre?
Tues 15 Sept: discussion #1
Thurs 17 Sept: paper #1 due by midnight
Mon 28 Sept: draft #2 due by midnight. Readings: Decolonization, Decoloniality; plus Decolonial and Border Thinking. Paper assignment: An episteme is a way of knowing or understanding (epistemology is a philosophical word for the study of how we know things). Dr. Ndlovu-Gatsheni talks about epistemicide and colonization. He uses the term "coloniality" to denote an ongoing system, rather than a finite process like colonization. Gómez-Peña describes what some have called "border thinking" and what Gloria Anzaldúa described as a "new mestiza consciousness" that draws creative energy from movement and multiplicity, especially where identity is concerned. Answer one or more of the following questions: Is border thinking a kind of epistemic freedom—why or why not? How do either or both of the poets enact epistemic freedom, cognitive justice, or border thinking? If coloniality is tied to our being and our knowledge, can you provide a detailed analysis of something we need to un-know if we want to disrupt colonial power/knowledge?
Tues 29 Sept: discussion #2 with Prof. Erin Murrah-Mandril
Thurs 1 Oct: paper #2 due by midnight
Mon 5 Oct: draft #3 due by midnight. Readings: Thoreau, Slavery in Massachusetts; Jackson, Treason Will Not Be Treason Much Longer. Paper assignment: Thoreau's essay "Slavery in Massachusetts" is a classic example of the rhetorical concept of kairos, writing that aims to be timely, to address a particular moment or occasion. Originally given as a speech at a Massachusetts antislavery meeting, Thoreau was responding to the recent capture and trial in Boston of the enslaved person Anthony Burns, and Burns's forcible rendition under the terms of the Fugitive Slave Law to the man who claimed ownership over him. As Holly Jackson's chapter helps to make clear, these events contributed to a turn in the antislavery movement, leading to an eruption of outrage and despair and a growing demand for radical action. Thoreau's loss of faith in governmental institutions and in the idea of America itself ("what I had lost was a country") can be understood in this context.
But if the essay belongs to its time, it may speak to our era too. To what extent do Thoreau's arguments resonate for us now? Discuss the relevance of his text, and Jackson's chapter as well if you wish, to resistance and protest today, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Tues 6 Oct: discussion #3 with Prof. Neill Matheson
Thurs 8 Oct: paper #3 due by midnight
Mon 19 Oct: draft #4 due by midnight. Readings: Chesnutt, The Wife of His Youth; Chesnutt, Race Prejudice, Its Causes and Its Cure; Williams, My Family's Life Inside and Outside America's Racial Categories. Paper assignment: The three pieces of writing you read for this week represent three different genres: the short story, the essay, and autobiography (the Williams piece comes from his memoir Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race). Although we're accustomed to thinking of essays as making arguments, and fiction and memoirs as telling stories, I would suggest to you that each of the pieces we read is in fact making an argument—an argument about race and its place in American life.
In your response for this week (2-3 pp), please begin by paraphrasing the argument being made in each of the three pieces: Chesnutt's short story "The Wife of His Youth," Chesnutt's essay "Race Prejudice: Its Causes and Its Cure," and the excerpt from a memoir by Thomas Chatterton Williams, "My Family's Life Inside and Outside America's Racial Categories." You may have a harder time pinning down the argument in the short story, and that's okay; you can write about the questions it raises or the ideas it seems to rely on instead, if you wish.
Next, compare and contrast the substance of the arguments. Are Chesnutt and Williams in conversation? How? How do they differ; what do they share in common? Who is the audience for each of these works, do you think, and how do the writers go about trying to persuade their readers—or get them to see differently—as they work within the parameters of a given genre? Please be sure to consider the historical and cultural context of the time each piece was written.
Finally, spend a little time going deeper with the piece that hit you hardest. (That may mean the one you liked the best, the one you found most interesting, the one that got you thinking, or even the one that made you mad.) What did you think of it? How does it fit in to what you've read so far this semester? This is the place to share your personal, subjective opinion, but I hope you won't abandon your critical thinking as you do so. It would be interesting to consider what premises or ideas the piece you've chosen to focus shares with the other reading for the course—or how it challenges them.
Tues 20 Oct: discussion #4 with Prof. Kathryn Warren
Thurs 22 Oct: paper #4 due by midnight
Mon 26 Oct: draft #5 due by midnight. Readings: Jackson, Specters of the Ballad; Wood & Donaldson, Lynching's Legacy. Paper assignment: For this week's response (2-3 double-spaced pages), please answer the following questions. Be sure to provide ample evidence to support your responses. 1. In Jackson's analysis of Paul Laurence Dunbar's lyric poem, "The Haunted Oak" (1901), she notes that the editors of the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine cut the last two stanzas of the poem before its publication. Although the popular Century Illustrated published articles by both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois in the early 1900s, the choice was still made to edit Dunbar's poem. How does the elimination of those two stanzas change the overall meaning of the poem? To what degree could the poem have impacted the magazine's readership, and how might the poem have resonated with (or offended) readers had those two stanzas been published? What does the censoring of Dunbar's lyric say about the understanding and role of lynching in American society at that time? See contiguous poem here. 2. Wood and Donaldson's 2008 essay addresses the rise in academic and public interest in the study of lynching and its history. In 2020, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the killing of George Floyd have brought lynching into the mainstream discussions of systemic racism in the US (e.g., racially motivated police brutality = modern-day lynching). Wood and Donaldson hint at some possibilities as to this increased interest in 2008, but what other historical events or cultural movements of the last decade might have contributed to this continued public and academic inquiry into role of lynching in American history?
Tues 27 Oct: discussion #5 with Prof. Michael Brittain
Thurs 29 Oct: paper #5 due by midnight
Mon 16 Nov: draft #6 due by midnight. Readings: Bullard, Dismantling Environmental Racism; Bullard, Covid-19 Health Disparities; Degnarain, Ten Ways. Paper assignment: In 2-3 double-spaced pages, respond to one (1) of the following questions. Responses should have a clear thesis (claim + reasons), evidence (your observations, knowledge, and experience), and naysayer (hypothetical or otherwise) and rebuttal.
1. To what extent would you argue environmental protection is a basic right?
2. To what extent would you argue that environmentalism is equated with social justice and civil rights?
3. What place does the material environment have in environmental justice? Or how might environmental justice not equate justice for the environment?
Tues 17 Nov: discussion #6 with Prof. Justin Lerberg
Thurs 19 Nov: paper #6 due by midnight
syllabus: The effective version of the syllabus is always at https://tmorris.utasites.cloud/courses/3371f20/3371mainf20.html. If you are looking at a print or .pdf version, please make sure to consult the online version for updates.