Have you ever tried to relate your experiences, rooted in your own complex identities, history, and social networks, to those of others you perceive as different and perhaps allied, but found you lacked some fundamental vocabulary? This is a common problem, even for critical theorists who take as their object of study political, affective, and epistemological structures of difference and power. Critical race, postcolonial, Indigenous, and queer theories have often centered the relationship between the normative and non-normative, between straight and queer, colonizer and colonized, and white and black. Connections between the differently non-normative can sometimes be pushed to the periphery. But what if we were to center that periphery? What views of complex power structures and new avenues of thought and solidarity would arise if we took as our starting point the social and theoretical interconnectedness and overlap of black, brown, and queer folks? This course will serve as an introduction to critical race, postcolonial, Indigenous, and queer theories as conceptually and phenomenologically interlocking and allied fields. By reading with theorists in all these traditions and at their intersections, we will explore how blackness, indigeneity, and brownness are constructed and function in the context of colonialism and settler colonialism, how differently racialized bodies are sexed and sexualized, and how queerness as method can speak across these issues. No background in critical theory is required for this course. We will focus on how to read and discuss theory, and how to think holistically about the structures that work to keep us divided.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
attendance and class participation, two 4-page reflection papers, and a final creative project (TBD with instructor) or take-home exam
American Studies majors
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course introduces students to theories of difference and power, such as critical race, postcolonial, Indigenous, and queer theories. The aim of the course is to establish the skills and frameworks needed to think about how these categories and theories interact, overlap, and constitute one another.
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives