Social Justice Traditions: 1960s to #Black Lives Matter
Division II; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Cross-listed as HIST256 / AMST256 / AFR257
We live in a time of renewed social justice activism, as people from all walks of life confront economic inequality, police violence, discrimination against transgender individuals, and other forms of oppression. This course is designed to clarify where recent initiatives like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street came from, and to evaluate how they might shape American life in the near future. Movements have histories, as today’s activists draw on the “freedom dreams,” tactics, and styles of rhetoric crafted by their predecessors, while making use of new technologies, such as Twitter, and evolving understandings of “justice.” Taking a historical approach, we will begin by studying the civil rights, Black Power, anti-war, counter-culture, and feminist initiatives of the 1960s. We will then explore how progressive and radical activists adjusted their theories and strategies as the country became more conservative in the 1970s and 1980s. Making use of movement documents, documentary films, and scholarly accounts, we will study the development of LGBTQ, ecological, and economic justice initiatives up to the present day. Throughout, we will seek to understand how movements in the United States are shaped by global events and how activists balance their political work with other desires and commitments.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: attendance and class participation; four 2 page reading response papers; discussion of films via GLOW forums; and a final 7-8 page analytical essay
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Enrollment Preference: first years, sophomores, and American Studies majors
Distributions: Division II; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Distribution Notes: DPE: The class focuses on struggles for rights, recognition, and redistribution of resources of people of color, women, LGBTQ folks, the working poor, and immigrants. We focus on the tension between groups asserting they are the "same" as others in society, and hence deserving of equal rights, and the celebration of difference as a means of asserting pride and building solidarity. Focus on strategies and tactics: e.g. demonstrations, guerrilla theatre, electoral campaigns, strikes. We discuss how movements borrow and adapt tactics, slogans, and ides of justice from other movements.
Attributes: AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora; HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada