narrative

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Passing Strange: Racial Crossings and the Construction of Identity in America.

In this class we will interrogate narratives of racial passing in a variety of forms. These narratives raise questions about the construction, reinforcement and subversion of racial categories. There is a rich trove of literature focused on passing within African American literature alongside many examples in the 20th century of narratives focused on ethnic masquerade and cultural assimilation.  In essence, if individuals can undetectably pass through social boundaries meant to keep them out, then the very act of passing calls into question the nature both of the boundaries and of the categories they delineate.  This course uses the paradigm of “passing” to examine notions of race (as well as gender, sexuality and class)to illustrate how those categories are produced. Using fiction, history and film we will endeavor to get a deeper understanding of the category we call race. Read more here.

Reel Bad Arabs

This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged from the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Featuring acclaimed author Dr. Jack Shaheen, the film explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs–from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding “terrorists”–along the way offering devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypic images, their development at key points in US history, and why they matter so much today. Shaheen shows how the persistence of these images over time has served to naturalize prejudicial attitudes toward Arabs and Arab culture, in the process reinforcing a narrow view of individual Arabs and the effects of specific US domestic and international policies on their lives. By inspiring critical thinking about the social, political, and basic human consequences of leaving these Hollywood caricatures unexamined, the film challenges viewers to recognize…

Black Womens Narratives From Slavery to the Harlem Renaissance

This course, heavily dependent upon Hazel Carby’s Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (Oxford, 1987), is intended to explore the parameters of the literature produced by Black women in the Americas between slavery and the Harlem Renaissance. The goal is to provide students with knowledge of the historical and social roots of Black womens writing during the 19th and early 20th century in order that they may better contextualize more recent and popular works. Throughout the class, the uses of fiction to borrow Pauline Hokpins phrase, frames our discussion of the literature. Dr. Heather Hathaway Marquette University View Syllabus

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