HIST 383
Whiteness and Race in the History of the United States Fall 2012
Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed WGSS 383 / HIST 383
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If race is socially and historically constructed, then the study of race relations in the U.S. extends to the topic of whiteness. And if we are never without the past, then “whiteness” must be a part of current discussions about politics, citizenship, and social issues. Focusing on how historians have written about whiteness in American history, this course uses the prism of race to explore social, political, and economic development in U.S. history. The class follows the development of “whiteness” through a chronology that begins in colonial Virginia, travels through immigration in the nineteenth century, examines racial politics and popular culture in the twentieth century, and ends with a look at the current election season. This course is framed by several questions: What is whiteness, and what has it meant in the history of the United States? Who is (and is not) white? What about other analytical categories, like gender and class (or region or ethnicity or sexuality): how have these experiences shaped and been shaped by the racial category of whiteness? Because historically whiteness has carried overtones of power, privilege, and wealth in the United States, the course necessarily critiques the roots of racial disparities. This class is not for the faint-hearted. Informed participation is necessary to its success. The course fulfills the requirements for the Exploring Diversity Initiative because it examines the differences and similarities between white Americans and other American cultures, and because it explores whiteness as a prism for understanding the operations of power and privilege in American society.
The Class: Format: discussion
Limit: 25
Expected: 20-25
Class#: 1452
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: evaluation will be based on class participation, the leading of two class discussions related to the writing of two 3- to 5-page review/response papers, and a final bibliographical research project
Enrollment Preferences: students in History, Africana Studies and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Distributions: Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
WGSS 383 Division II HIST 383 Division II
Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada
WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses

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