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EN392 Race, Ethnicity, and Migration in the Americas

Kendrick Lamar, "Humble" (2017) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A yearlong advanced module for 2nd and 3rd year students.

Tutor: Prof. Jonathan Schroeder 

From 2019/20, the current module code will be replaced by two new module codes:
Intermediate Year: EN2H3
Final Year: EN3H3
*Please ensure that you register for the correct code for your year of study*

OVERVIEW

This class explores the intersections and divergences that make up the history of race, ethnicity, and migration in the Americas. It is organized on the premise that Enlightenment European knowledge is biased at its core, such that its universal claims about the potential of humanity should be understood as only intended for the few and not everyone. Our readings will incorporate many different genres of writing, from political theory to slave narratives and experimental poetry, and media, including film and music, but they are organized so that we will be able to examine in-depth case studies that complement and challenge broader historical and theoretical works.

Our focus this coming year will be slavery and its legacies in the United States, with a particular focus on the institutions, movements, and aesthetics that shaped (and reshaped) race, ethnicity, and migration. In “provincializing” the U.S., we seek to consider how the modern concept of race was forged in the crucible of Enlightenment knowledge, the transatlantic slave trade and domestic slavery, and the humanitarian/sentimental abolition movement. The second half of the year will consider texts that critique the concept of race, often, as in the case of authors like Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin, by imagining futures and worlds where Black identity is radically reconfigured, reoriented, and revalued.


REQUIRED TEXTS

  • James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room (Penguin, 2007)
  • Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower (Grand Central, 2000).
  • Frederick Douglass. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Oxford World’s Classics, 2009)
  • Harriet Jacobs. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Dover Thrift, 2001)
  • N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (Orbit, 2016)
  • Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories (Penguin Classics, 2016)
  • Toni Morrison, Beloved (Vintage, 2007)
  • NourbeSe Philip, Zong! (Wesleyan University Press, 2011)

    Please purchase hard copies of these editions (bolded) unless you can’t afford to do so. Getting on the same page will greatly improve discussion. I will share other readings with you.


    ASSESSMENT

    • Formative Work: A 500-word brainstorming paper leading up to the final essay
    • Assessed Work: A 2500-word paper (40%); and a 4000-word final essay (60%)
    • Presentations: You will be expected to give one presentation per term. Details to follow.

     

    POLICIES

    • Attendance & Participation: Attendance will be taken and entered on Tabula each week. You can find the handbook policy on attendance here: https://bit.ly/2R0A2w8
      Participation in seminar is strongly encouraged. Please be courteous to other students and give them room in the class as well. Feel free to debate with each other rather than always rout discussion through me! If you do not feel comfortable speaking up, consider coming to talk about texts during my office hours.
    • Electronics: Phones must be turned off in class. Laptops and tablets are only to be used for reading and notetaking in class. Using hard copies is strongly encouraged.
    • Plagiarism: Plagiarism is unacceptable and a serious offense.

    SYLLABUS 

    TERM 1

    Week 1: Introduction

    • Charles W. Mills, “Introduction” (1-9) to The Racial Contract (1997)

     

    UNIT 1: FROM ETHNICITY TO RACE

    Week 2: Life, Labor, Race

    • Hannah Arendt, from “Labor” (79-101) in The Human Condition (1958)
    • Michel Foucault, “Lecture Eleven” (239-64) in Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France 1975-1976
    • Walter Johnson, “Reading Bodies and Marking Race” (135-161) in Soul by Soul: Life Inside an Antebellum Slave Market (1999)

     

    Recommended Reading

      • Mel Y. Chen, “Introduction: Animating Animacy” (1-20) in Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (2012)
      • Justin E.H. Smith, “From Lineage to Biogeography” (140-59) in Nature, Human Nature, & Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy (2015)
      • Susan James, “Passion and Error,” (159-182) in Passion and Action: The Emotions in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy (1997)
      • Hagar Kotef, “The Problem of ‘Excessive Movement’” (87-111) in Movement and the Ordering of Freedom: On Liberal Governances of Mobility (2015)
      • Thomas McCarthy, Race, Empire, and the Idea of Human Development (2009)

     

    Week 3: Visibility and Race

    • Herman Melville, “Benito Cereno” (55-137) in Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories
    • Greg Grandin, “Introduction” (17-35) and “Who Aint A Slave” (203-238) in The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World (2014)

     

    Recommended Reading

      • Roxann Wheeler, The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British Culture (2000)

     

    Week 4: Liberation and Abolition

    • David Walker, Walker’s Appeal…To the Coloured Citizens of the World (1829; 86 pp.) (PDF here: https://bit.ly/2OSqZf1)
    • Thomas Jefferson, on blackness (90-99) in Notes on the State of Virginia (1781)

     

    Recommended Reading

      • Marcy Dinius, “Look!! Look!!! At This!!!!” The Radical Typography of David Walker,” PMLA (2011): 55-72
      • Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, “Introduction” (1-7) and “Chapter 7: A Motley Crew in the American Revolution” (211-247) in The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (2013)

     

    UNIT 2: THE SLAVE NARRATIVE

    Week 5: Humanitarianism

    • Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself (1845)
    • From Theodore Weld, American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1838)
    • Karen Halttunen, “Humanitarianism and the Pornography of Pain in Anglo-American Culture,” The American Historical Review 100, no. 2 (1995): 303-334

     

    Week 6:  READING WEEK

     

    Week 7: Fugitivity

    In-Class: Glenn Ligon, The Runaways (1993)

    • William Wells Brown, Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave, Written by Himself (1847; 98 pp.)
      (Download PDF via Google Books: https://bit.ly/2Dx0TgG)
    • Edward E. Baptist, “Introduction: The Heart” (15-38) in The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (2016)

    Recommended Reading

      • Kyla Schuller, “Introduction: Sentimental Biopower” (1-34) in The Biopolitics of Feeling: Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century (2018)
      • Text of the the Fugive Slave Act of 1850 https://bit.ly/2bDRUMt

     

    Week 8: Black Authorship & The Female Slave Narrative I

    • Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself (2001 [1861])
    • Lindon Barrett, “African-American Slave Narratives: Literacy, the Body, Authority,” in Conditions of the Present: Selected Essays (2018), 92-118

    Week 9: Black Authorship & The Female Slave Narrative II

    • Finish Jacobs
    • John S. Jacobs, “A True Story of Slavery” (1862)

     

    Week 10: Impossible Testimony

    • NourbeSe Philip, selections from Zong! (2008)
    • J.M.W. Turner, Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On) (1840) https://bit.ly/2QWv2IN

     

    Recommended Reading

      • Ian Baucom, Spectres of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History (2005)

     

    FIRST ASSESSED ESSAY DUE

     

    TERM 2

    UNIT 3:  CRITICAL RACE FICTIONS

    Week 11 The Memory of Slavery

    • Toni Morrison, Beloved (1988)

     

    Week 12: On Whiteness

    • James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room ([1956]; 156 pp.)
    • Matthew Frye Jacobson, “Becoming Caucasian, 1924-1965” (91-136) in Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (1998)

     

    Recommended Reading

      • Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks ([1952]; 1-60)

     

    Week 13: On Whiteness

    Screening: American Psycho (dir. Mary Harron, 102 min., 2000)

    • Charles W. Mills, “Revisionist Ontologies: Theorizing White Supremacy” (97-118) in Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race (1998)

     

    Recommended Reading

      • Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism (2018)

     

    Week 14: Intersections I

    Screening: Paris is Burning (dir. Jennie Livingston, 1990, 78 min.)

    • “The Combahee River Collective Statement” (1974; ~5 pp.)
    • Judith Butler, “Gender is Burning: Questions of Appropriation and Subversion” (381-395) in Dangerous Crossings: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives (1997)

     

    UNIT 4: DIASPORA & FUTURITY

    Week 15: The Neo-Slave Narrative I 

    • Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
    • Ashraf Rushdy, “Introduction” (3-22) in Neo-Slave Narratives: Studies in the Social Logic of a Literary Form (2001)

     

    Week 16:  READING WEEK

     

    Week 17: The Neo-Slave Narrative II

    • Finish Parable of the Sower
    • Wendy Brown, “Waning Sovereignty, Walled Democracy” (7-42) in Walled States, Waning Sovereignty (2010)

     

    Week 18: Futures I

    • K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (2016)
    • Alondra Nelson, “Afrofuturism,” Social Text (2002): 1-15

     

    Recommended Reading

      • Ytasha Womack, Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture (2013)

     

    Week 19: Futures II

    • The Fifth Season (finish)
    • Samuel R. Delany, “Racism and Science Fiction” in Darkmatter (1999)

     

    Week 20: Diaspora and Belonging

    Before Class: watch music videos for “Alright,” “For Sale?” and “King Kunta”

    • Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
    • Robert Hayden, “Middle Passage” and “O Daedalus, Fly Away Home”

     

    TERM 3  

    Weeks 21-23: Module Review

    EARLY MAY // FINAL ESSAY DUE

    Seminars: Wednesdays 10:00-11:30 (Group 1), 11:30 - 1:00 (Group 2).
     
    Office Hours: Tuesdays, 11:00-1:00, and by appointment