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ENGLISH 3A03 Critical Race Studies

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Daniel Coleman

Email: dcoleman@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 303

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23717

Website:

Office Hours: Mondays 1:30-3:00pm



Course Objectives:

Course Description:

Though the term “race” is used as a commonplace in contexts from popular media to scholarly research to living room conversations, there are crucial reasons to question what “race” actually means. Does it refer to identifiable biological traits or genetic features?  If so, which features or traits? And who determines which features of the human body are salient for determining racial classification? Most scholars suggest that there is no such thing as race. Instead, they suggest that “race” is the artificial product of the process of racialization, which is the practice of dividing groups of human beings into races. Racism then, the practice of asserting a hierarchy of superiority and inferiority between different “races,” is clearly a result of racialization. But is it a necessary result? And are there forms of racialization that are not racist? How are the meanings of race developed, changed, or reproduced?

 

This course is a theory course that will explore these and other questions in relation to current scholarly debates about the nature and interrelation of race, racialization, and racism, with the purpose of raising anti-racist awareness, criticism, and activity. We will read current articles and essays in Critical Race Theory and discuss them in relation to the long history of race relations and racial institutionalization, both to set them in historical context, but also to demonstrate how the meanings of race have changed over time. We will also observe how ideas of “race,” are inescapably interlinked with other ways of categorizing humans, such as those of gender, sexuality, class, nation, and religion. Class discussions will be based on weekly theoretical readings, periodic documentary film screenings, and class visits from scholars and community activists involved in anti-racist work. Written assignments will include weekly response statements, a final project, and a final examination.

 

Course Objectives:

Upon completion of the course, students will:

  • have a good grasp of the history and dynamics of race and racism as described and analyzed by major 20th and 21st-century scholars in the field of critical race studies;
  • understand the intersectional nature of race relations: how race interacts with other major elements of human identity such as gender, sexuality, class, nationality, and political system;
  • understand how social conventions and institutions construct and maintain the meanings of race and racism;
  • have paid particular attention to the dynamics of race and racism in Canadian society and history;
  • have completed assignments that encourage them to apply the historical and theoretical understandings of race and racism gained in the class to practical circumstances in their own communities;
  • have met activists and scholars who are engaged in everyday work to dismantle race thinking, its systems, and its hierarchies in our communities.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Textbooks:

1. Basic Call to Consciousness, Ed. Akwesasne Notes. Summertown,TN: Native Voices, 2005.

2. Courseware package of critical and theoretical readings designed for this course.


Method of Assessment:

Assignments:

Critical Response Statements/Participation    20%

Project Proposal                                              15%

Final Project                                                    35%      

Final Exam                                                      30%


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late assignment policy: All assignments must be given to your seminar tutor in class. There are no penalties for late papers; however, essays handed in after the due date will be graded without comment. Term work will not be received or reconsidered after the final day of this class. Since the end of term is a very busy time, you are strongly advised not to leave the completion of your paper till this time. To be on the safe side, please discuss any concerns about term-work grades with your seminar tutor or me before the last day of classes.


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.


Topics and Readings:

Schedule:

This class will consist of instructor-led discussions of critical and theoretical works alternating with tutorial discussions of the material in smaller groups. The tutorials will also function as workshops in which students can develop and discuss their inquiry projects. Students are expected to come to class each week prepared to discuss all assigned readings. To encourage a high level of preparation, I have designed the “response statement/participation” assignment in such a way that each tutorial students will hand in a response to discussion questions based on the week’s readings. 

McMaster’s standard statement on schedules: “The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term. The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances. If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.”

Week One (Sept 11): 

Introduction

Week Two (Sept 18) What Is “Race”?

Judy Root Aulette, “Ch. 1 Introduction to a Global View of Race and Racism”

Ricki Lewis, “Race & the Clinic: Good Science?”

Doug Daniels, “The White Race Is Shrinking.”

Week Three (Sept 25): Race and Representation

Edward Said, “Imaginative Geography and Its Representations: Orientalizing the Oriental.”

Stuart Hall, “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power”

 

Week Four (Oct 2): Inventing and Reinventing Race

*Final Project Proposal Due in Tutorial this week. No response paper due this week

Robert S. Chang, “The Invention of Asian Americans”

Kamal Al-Solaylee, “Introduction: Brown. Like Me?”

 

Oct 9 - Fall Recess – no classes this week

 

Week Five (Oct 16) Internalizing Race

W.E.B. Du Bois, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” from The Souls of Black Folks

Frantz Fanon, “The Fact of Blackness”

Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege and Male Privilege”

 

Week Six (Oct 23): Opposing Representations

Basic Call to Consciousness, “Preamble” by Chief Oren Lyons (13-25), “Thoughts of Peace” by Sotsisowah (John Mohawk, 31-40), “Deskaheh, An Iroquois Patriot’s Fight for International Recognition” (41-47), “Last Speech of Deskaheh” by Deskaheh (Levi General, 48-51)

 

Week Seven (Oct 30): Opposing Representations, continued

Basic Call to Consciousness, sections by Sotsisowah (John Mohawk): “Introduction” (80-84), “Spiritualism, The Highest Form of Political Consciousness” (85-91), “The Obvious Fact of Our Continuing Existence” (92-102), “Policies of Oppression in the Name of Democracy” (103-118), “Our Strategy for Survival” (119-125)

 

Week Eight (Nov 6): Race and the Sex/Gender System

Bobby Jean Noble. “Our Bodies Are Not Ourselves: Tranny Guys and the Racialized Class Politics of Incoherence.”

Sherene Razack, “Introduction: Race Thinking and the Camp”

 

Week Nine (Nov 13): Race, Settler Colonialism, and Canadian Multiculturalism:

Eva Mackey, “Introduction: Settler Colonialism and Contested Homelands”

Bonita Lawrence and Enakshi Dua, “Decolonizing Anti-racism”

M. NourbeSe Philip, “Why Multiculturalism Can’t End Racism”

 

Week Ten (Nov 20): Race and Whiteness

* Final Project due in tutorial this week* (no response paper this week)

Ross Chambers, “The Unexamined”

Robin DiAngelo, “White Fragility”

 

Week Eleven (Nov 27): If we’re Anti-Racist, what are we For?

Martin Luther King, Jr. “Nonviolence: The Only Road to Freedom.”

bell hooks and Thich Nhat Hanh. “On Building a Community of Love.”

 

Week Twelve: In-Class Exam (two hours)

 

Assignments: Remember that all assignments must conform to MLA format (see URL for Purdue site below).

 

A.  Critical Response Statements (major portion of Participation mark of 20%): To each tutorial, students will bring a critical response to the week’s assigned readings.  This critical response statement will consist of a one-paragraph response to one from the series of questions your TA will prepare a week in advance of each week’s readings.  Students will sign up in class to answer one from the list of questions that have been designed and then write their responses at home.  You will then bring these responses to tutorial and be prepared to speak from these responses during class discussion.  This is our way to encourage you to have given some careful thought to the topics at hand each week and to be ready to enter into discussion from that pre-class thinking, rather than simply speaking on-the-fly.  Your TA will collect these response papers each week for your participation mark. (0 = not done, 1 = done, 1+ = outstanding).  Because it is a participation mark, the response statement may only be submitted in tutorial on the day we are discussing the assigned reading.  Late statements are not accepted as they were not prepared in time to participate in the class discussion, and early statements are not accepted until we actually discuss the article. 

 

B.  Project Proposal: (15% - no longer than five double-spaced, typed pages; due in tutorial the week of Oct 2): This essay constitutes a proposal for the final project (see project prompts below). It provides 1) the background to how you came to choose the topic and format you have chosen for the final project, 2) the rationale for the project’s format and purpose, and 3) an outline of its organization (sections, chapters, intro-middle-conclusion, etc.). The Project Proposal is meant to get you to think through the topic for your final project early in the course; it should describe not just the topic you wish to address, but what “angle” you wish to take towards that topic. It should provide a rationale for the importance of taking up this particular project in this particular way. It should go into detail on the format you anticipate using in the project and why that format will be particularly effective as a way to convey your intention with the project. It should describe which communities will be involved or impacted by the project. This assignment allows our teaching team to comment on your final project plan while you are in the planning stages.

C.  Final Project (35% - no longer than eight double-spaced, typed pages; ten minutes of film; or similar length in other formats; due in tutorial the week of Nov 20): This is a problem-based learning project that is meant to help you apply what you have learned through our theoretical discussions about race and racism to address a real-life practical problem. The final project can be in a wide variety of formats. You could compose an essay, a documentary film, a blog site, a cycle of poems, a zine, a website, or a graphic novel. You might write a cycle of rap songs or create a race-history map of a neighbourhood. It might be something we instructors have not yet thought of. The key is that the project is presented in a form appropriate for addressing the particular problem in race dynamics or politics that you have chosen to address. While many may think it’s “easier” to do something creative than it is to write a standard essay, let me warn you that creative projects are often much more time-consuming than the traditional class essay. For example, it’s a standard of the industry to estimate that it takes 10 hours of filming and editing to create one minute of film. I have listed a series of prompts for project ideas below. References should follow MLA format exactly. Please refer to http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/ for detailed instructions on following MLA style for citations, bibliographies, paper format and so on. The project must be completely free of errors in punctuation, grammar, and spelling, and it should be presented in a carefully organized, coherent manner. Beware of simply reproducing the ideas or of stringing together a series of quotations from any sources you refer to; instead, compose a project that launches its own assessment of and engagement with questions and issues raised in the sources. You are encouraged to use secondary sources for support and amplification, but you must be careful not to let these secondary sources “lead” your presentation. Since this course involves the study of how various critical theorists have put together their arguments, it is crucial that you demonstrate the ability to define your terms precisely, shape and pace your ideas carefully, and use examples judiciously. Often these examples will take the form of references to specific passages in the texts you are analyzing or specific statements made by people in the institutions you are examining. Your concepts should be sufficiently limited in scope to permit full treatment in a project of this length, but they should also take into account the broad range of discussions we have had throughout the term.

 

Final Project Prompts: Below are some ideas of where you might go for project starters, but you may choose and design your own project topics. In tutorial of the week of October 2, you will submit a project proposal describing your project (see above).

 

  1. Prepare a project assessing the racial dynamics or diversity of a particular group or institution that you belong to such as a campus club; a church, synagogue, temple, mosque or other place of worship; a class that you are currently enrolled in; a place where you work.  The idea would be to note what kinds of systems are in place that either welcome or exclude people of diverse racial backgrounds. You could then make recommendations for improvement, if they are needed, or identify what’s working well, if you’re impressed with what’s being done. 
  2. An adaptation of the above assignment would be to assess materials produced by an institution or group that you are part of—books, publicity materials, films, class curricula, music—for their capacity to include or exclude the experiences of diverse people.
  3. Take one of the newspaper or magazine articles included at the end of your coursepack as a “problem” to be addressed. Research the history or context of the controversy, describe the racial politics that shape or structure the conflict, consider which critical race theorists might shed useful light on the situation, and/or suggest ways the conflict might be addressed.
  4. Choose one of the critical theorists from whose work we have read an excerpt and discuss that selection in reference to the larger work from which it is taken (e.g. Said’s discussion of imaginative geography in relation to his entire book Orientalism).
  5. Compare two theorists’ ideas on a certain subject (e.g. Hall and Gates on representation); or discuss how a later theorist’s ideas are derived from or divergent from an earlier theorist’s work and how this similarity or difference throws light on a particular racial problem or situation.

 

Final Project Evaluation Template:

  • importance or creativity of chosen topic (it's got impact, it matters, is relevant or strategic, etc.)
  • the purpose of the project is clear and persuasive
  • appropriateness of the format for the purpose of the project
  • the building blocks of the project add up (provide needed evidence, explanation, argumentation, support, development, etc.)
  • aesthetics: the project is attractive (great writing, visually attractive, intriguingly designed, etc.)


Other Course Information:

Policies for this course:

  • Attend all classes.  I strongly hold the view that education is a collective, communal activity.  Therefore, I do not try to make it easy for students to miss classes by posting notes on the web or by providing make-up activities for people who miss class without a good reason. Repeated absence will be deemed non-participation in the course.
  • Tutorials Participation: Tutorials start one week after classes begin. Students are expected to attend every tutorial and to be prepared to discuss the material weekly.
  • Late assignment policy: All assignments must be given to your seminar tutor in class. There are no penalties for late papers; however, essays handed in after the due date will be graded without comment. Term work will not be received or reconsidered after the final day of this class. Since the end of term is a very busy time, you are strongly advised not to leave the completion of your paper till this time. To be on the safe side, please discuss any concerns about term-work grades with your seminar tutor or me before the last day of classes.
  • Academic dishonesty consists of misrepresentation by deception or by other fraudulent means and can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various kinds of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, specifically Appendix 3, located at:  http://www.mcmaster.ca/policy/Students-AcademicStudies/AcademicIntegrity.pdf

 

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

 

In this course we will be using a web-based service (Turnitin.com) to reveal plagiarism. Students will be required to submit their Take-Home Essay and Final Essay electronically to Turnitin.com so that it can be checked for academic dishonesty. (Students will simultaneously hand in a hard copy to the instructor for grading.)  All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., Google search, etc.). To see Guidelines for the use of Turnitin.com, please go to www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity. To log-in, go to www.turnitin.com and follow the instructions for creating a user profile outlined on the Avenue website for this class. Students who do not wish to submit their work to Turnitin.com must speak to their seminar tutor about an alternative method of submitting an essay. In written assignments, all direct quotations from texts (primary or secondary), all paraphrases of others’ words, and all presentations of others’ ideas must be properly documented. For a detailed description of how to handle borrowed material, refer to The MLA Handbook, which is the standard style guide used in the Department of English and Cultural Studies. Please refer to the Purdue University Owl Online Writing Lab for detailed instructions on following MLA style for citations, bibliographies, paper format on so on: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/.

  • Please keep copies of all assignments submitted during the term.  This allows you to refer back to them when you are studying for exams or so you can verify the grades I have recorded for you.
  • Respect your colleagues.  Students are expected to conduct themselves in a collegial manner in all aspects of the class.  This means being well prepared for your own contributions to class discussions, as well as responding constructively to one another’s contributions.
  • Email and Electronic “education.”  I am not a fan of the increasing amount of teaching conducted via the internet. It is very important that we as a society learn to speak with one another in person, especially when the topics are controversial or difficult. Many forms of electronic communication are wonderful aids, but they allow people to fire off comments and not have to stand physically behind what they say. For these reasons, I do not post assignments or notes on the web. Along the same lines, I prefer that students use the instructors’ email sparingly. We would much rather discuss questions or concerns before or after class, during breaks, or during office hours than by email, so please help avoid “grumpy email” syndrome by contacting us in person.
  • Laptops, notebook computers, social media: I have had students in the past surfing the net, sending text messages, hanging out on social media, and doing other work during class and therefore not being truly present in class. Research on “multi-tasking” indicates that it is not efficient or time-saving. In fact, people who try to multi-task take longer to get work done and often do a sloppier job of the task. So please respect your colleagues and our collective interaction in class by powering off smart phones and keeping the laptop on task at all times.