Afro-American Studies | Transnational Americas
A354 | 0326 | Matthew Guterl


This course is an intensive writing course.

This upper-level colloquium explores the connections between the
local and the global in contemporary American culture, especially
those relating to race.  The course material is explicitly
comparative, which means that we will be primarily focused on
relationships and conflicts between rapidly changing communities of
color, and between those communities and the larger “white America”
that surrounds them.  The focus here is on the ways in which common
and historical understandings of race-relations in this country –
which are primarily color-coded as white-over-black – are presently
being reshaped by people who are 1st or 2nd generation immigrants of
color, or who have been generally described as “non-American.”

This class uses books, newspapers, and movies as the basis for all
discussion.

A colloquium is discussion oriented; no lectures, no tests, just 3
papers and one in-class assignment.  The emphasis of the class is on
the mastery of the classic short essay form.  There will be 3 papers
(6-8 pages each), on specific philosophical and historical questions
provided by the instructor and based on the subjects of the books
for the class (E.g., “Debate the following: West Indian immigrants
to Brooklyn and Native Americans relocated to Minneapolis have
comparable histories.”)

At the beginning of each class session, someone will bring to the
discussion a newspaper clipping (local or national) related to the
course material for that week.  The goal here is to have you engage
in the course material outside of the classroom space.  You are
expected to be regular readers of newspapers in this class, and to
take advantage of the free online content of newspaper like The New
York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and others.  There is no limit to
the number of times a student can participate, and it is my hope
that we will begin each class session with a discussion of several
different newspaper clippings.

The general classroom discussions of assigned material are worth 40%
of your final grade.  Your participation grade will be based on your
attendance, on how often you speak, on how regularly you are
prepared to speak, and, of course, on what you say when you do chose
to speak.  Only positive class participation—that which engages in
and sparks a meaningful dialogue about some aspect of the session’s
reading—will be rewarded with a good grade.  You are required to
come to class having read the course material assigned for that week
and having thought about the issues before the class.  You should
have questions and ideas and arguments before class begins.