English 49, “Whiteness” and Racial Difference

English 49, “Whiteness” and Racial Difference

Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Spring 1997

Peter Schmidt, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English Literature

A look at the conflicted ways in which “racial” identities and differences have been constructed in past and contemporary cultures, especially in the U.S. Topics given emphasis in the syllabus include why saying “race doesn’t matter” is not enough; how a new debates about the history of race have changed American Studies and feminist studies; how European immigrants to the U.S. became “white” and with what benefits and what costs; how popular culture can both resist and perpetuate racist culture; and an introduction to issues of “passing,” multi-racial identity, and recovering a multiracial past. The format of the class will include both lecture and student-led discussion.

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