W170 | 1846 | Brandolino


Despite the idealistic American aim for a classless society in which
social standing does not dictate opportunity or respectability,
social class is almost everywhere apparent in America.  It is a
measuring stick for success (the more lucrative a job is, the more
prestigious it is); it is a gauge of honesty and moral uprightness
(you know what they say about people “from the wrong side of the
tracks”); it is manipulated by celebrities (Madonna as “Material
Girl” and working-class hero John Mellencamp) and for the advertising
of products from cat food (Fancy Feast) to clothing (Carhartt).  It
is also inextricably tied to our own personal identities - - what
town we hail from; how we speak; whether we drive a Lexus or a Ford
pickup; whether we consider finger foods to be Doritos or caviar;
whether a night out on the town means the opera or bowling.  And
insofar as higher education holds the promise of not only good-
paying, prestigious jobs, but also intellectual refinement and
exposure to more cultured activities, questions of social class are
always implicit in the decision to pursue a college degree.

This course will give students the opportunity to investigate the
roles social class plays in our society.  Readings, writing
assignments, and class discussions will address topics including the
intersection of class and education, class and race, and class as a
cultural force harnessed by celebrities, advertisers, and the mass