Topic outline

  • General

    Course meets TuTh 10-11:20, Library 202

    Office: Dalrymple 12

    Office Hours: TBD

    Please PRINT OUT all reading materials, read and annotate them actively, and bring them with you to class. See handouts in folder below for tips on how to read and take notes most effectively - we will go over these in more detail in class. 


    Attendance & Participation = 25 %

    Brief presentation on a work of secondary literature = 5 %

    Short papers/ written assignments (x4 @ 5 % ea.) = 20 %

    Annotated Bibliography (group project) = 20 % 

    Peer review of final paper draft = 10 %

    Final paper = 20 % 

    = 100 %

    • Thurs., Aug. 31 - general parameters


      Ta-Nehisi Coates, "The Case for Reparations,” The Atlantic, June 2014 (17k words) [PDF]

      _______ , Between the world and me, pp. 73-88 [PDF]

      Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields, Racecraft: the Soul of Inequality in American Life (London: Verso, 2014 [2012]): Intro = pp. 1-24 [PDF]

      Additional reading:

      Barbara J. Fields, "Of Rogues and Geldings,” American Historical Review Vol. 108, No. 5 (Dec. 2003)

      • Tues., Sept. 5: close read of Charlottesville, Aug. 12, 2017

        Suggested reading/ listening/ viewing:

        Charlottesville, Aug. 12, 2017 - Timeline of events, WJLA/ ABC News 7

        Kat Chow, "Making sense of Charlottesville: A reader's guide,” NPR, Aug. 14, 2017. SELECT A FEW OF THE ARTICLES LISTED HERE.

        NPR podcast Code Switch: "Charlottesville,” Aug. 15, 2017; "The unfinished battle in the capital of the Confederacy [Richmond, VA],” Aug. 22, 2017. [Approx 30min ea]

        Vice News, "Charlottesville: Race and Terror,” HBO, Aug. 21, 2017 [video, 22 min]

        David Morris, "Leaked chats show Charlottesville marchers were planning for violence,”, Aug. 26, 2017

        Fox News, "Confederate flag sales surge after Charlottesville violence,” Aug. 27, 2016



        Topics to consider:

        Monuments to the Confederacy - time of construction, current status

        White ethnonationalist movements

        Interactions on the internet

        US Politics (polarization, presidency, etc.)

        Protests (#BLM, etc.)

        Role of the American Civil Liberties Union

        Relationship between 1st and 2nd Amendments  


        • Thurs., Sept. 7 - Race and "science": blood, DNA, etc.


          Barbara J. Fields, "Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America,” New Left Review 181 (May/June 1990)

          Jenny Reardon and Kim TallBear, "'Your DNA is Our History': Genomics, Anthropology, and the Construction of Whiteness as Property,” Current Anthropology Vol. 53, Supplement 5 (April 2012), S233-S245

          Optional background reading: The classic deconstruction of the "science of race”:

          Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, revised and expanded edition (Norton, 1996 [1981]).

          NOTA BENE: 1996 ed. includes 5 new essays specifically refuting the argument of Richard J. Herrnstein and ­Charles Murray, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (Free Press, 1994). For an overview of the problems with and resurgence of Murray's argument, see Eric Siegel, "The real problem with Charles Murray and The Bell Curve,”, Apr. 12, 2017.


          • Topic 3: Race & Ethnicity in the US Census

            Reading for Tues., Sept. 12:

            a) How does the federal government categorize and count people? 

            U.S. Census Bureau, "About Race,” updated Jan. 12, 2017    

            Nicholas A. Jones, "Update on the U.S. Census Bureau's Race and Ethnic Research for the 2020 Census,” U.S. Census Bureau, Survey News Vol. 3, Issue 6, April 1, 2015. 

            American Anthropological Association Response to OMB Directive 15, Sept. 1997

            A. Smedley & B. D. Smedley, "Race as Biology is Fiction, Racism as a Social Problem is Real,” American Psychologist, vol. 60, no. 1 (Jan. 2005), pp. 16-26.   

            [Below readings are just for orientation and not required for Sept. 12; we'll examine voting in greater detail later in the semester.]

            b) For what purposes does the government gather this type of data?

            Public Mapping Project, "Redistricting Criteria: The Voting Rights Act

            Michael McDonald and Micah Altman, "Pulling back the curtain on redistricting,” WaPo, Jul. 9, 2010    

            German Lopez, "The Supreme Court's big racial gerrymandering decision, explained,”, May 22, 2017    

            • Topic 4: Construction of whiteness

              Reading for Thurs. 9/13:

              - Peter Kolchin, "Whiteness Studies: the new history of race in America." Journal of American History 89.1 (Jun. 2002), pp. 154-173. 

              Feel free to choose ONE of the following if you don't have time to read both for tomorrow: 

              - Karen Brodkin, How Jews became white folks (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 1999), chap. 2, pp. 53-76.

              - Matthew Frye Jacobson, "Becoming Caucasian: Vicissitudes of whiteness in American politics and culture." Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 8.1 (2001), pp. 83-104. 

              • Paper #1 - due Mon. 9/18 at midnight

                Reading: Ta-Nehisi Coates, "Donald Trump is the first white president," The Atlantic, Oct. 2017. 

                Paper prompt: what does Coates mean by "white"? How does he define it, and what does he mean by the "negation" of Obama's legacy? Feel free to draw on other readings we have done in class, but you are not obliged to, and in any case focus on the Coates text. 

                Paper guidelines:

                - ca. 800 words. 

                - remember to use page numbers. 

                - at the top of the first page, make sure to include your name, the date, the course name, assignment number, and a title for your work.  

                - citations: since you'll most likely cite from a single text, use a footnote for the first reference, and afterwards you can just put page numbers in parentheses any time you pull a quotation or refer to a particular section. 

                --> submit as Word document via the link below. Please do not share with me as a Google doc or in Google drive

              • "Racism without racists"

                Reading for Thurs. 9/21:

                Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism without racists: color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), Chap. 1 "The strange enigma of race in contemporary America" & another chapter of your choosing. E-book in Marlboro library system.

                • Revolt of the Black Athlete, 1968 & now

                  For Tues. 9/26:

                  John Matthew Smith, "'It's not really my country': Lew Alcindor and the Revolt of the Black Athlete," Journal of Sports History 36.2 (2009)

                  Jesse Williams at BET Awards 2016

                  CNN, "The unexpected connection between slavery, NFL protests, and the national anthem,” Aug. 22, 2017

                  ESPN, "NFL Players, coaches, owners lock arms, kneel during national anthem," Sept. 24, 2017