WOST 397L
THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF WHITENESS AND WOMEN
Spring 2000
Class time: TuTh 2:30-3:45
Professor: ARLENE AVAKIAN
Office: Bartlett 7B
Office Hours: Tu Th 11:00-12:00 and by appointment.
E-mail

Designed for students who have some familiarity with the historical, economic and political bases of racism, this course will explore the social construction of whiteness, its interaction with gender, and historical and contemporary political resistance to white privilege. Goals of the course are: 1. to gain an understanding of the historical, economic and political forces responsible for the construction and maintenance of whiteness; 2. to explore the mechanisms which insure that whiteness is experienced as the norm and not as a race; 3. to explore the relationships between the constructions of whiteness and the constructions of gender; 4. to foster students' ability to position themselves on the multiple axes of race, gender and class and to help them gain an understanding of the role they play in maintaining the privileges they have; 5. to help students explore effective action to challenge white privilege.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

1. CLASS PARTICIPATION: The work we do in this course will depend on the exchange of ideas that will take place in the class. Attendance is critical, and by attendance I mean coming to class ready to engage with the material having read it carefully and critically. Much of the work connecting gender to whiteness has not been done. Much of what we read will not mention women. I expect you to raise questions, and to make connections. Attendance in class, then, means more than being there; it means coming to class ready to be a participant. Since we are in a system in which your work is graded, and since I consider the class discussion to be a part of the work of the class, I will grade your work in class participation. (15%)

2. INDIVIDUAL WRITTEN WORK: Students will be expected to write 2 five page analytic papers. Topics will be announced in class. Each paper will be 30% of the grade. (60%)

3. ACTION PROJECTS: In addition to the strictly academic work of the course, students working in groups will be required to design and implement activist projects, on or off campus, to challenge white supremacy. The projects will be chosen and worked on collectively. The project design should include ways to evaluate success of project. I will devote some class time for sharing of projects -- successes and problems -- and will meet with each group outside of class. At the end of the semester each group will make a presentation to the class about the project and will be responsible for a written description and evaluation. The project will be given a group grade. (25%)

4. DISCUSSION GROUPS: Students are required to enroll in WOST 296Q, a one credit mandatory p/f practicum which will provide a space to share emotional responses to the class material in a small group setting on a weekly basis. Groups will consist of 10-15 students each and be facilitated by students who have taken this course. These facilitators are NOT RESPONSIBLE for the discussion. They will be there to help keep the focus on whiteness. It will be up to students in the group to come ready to share their own concerns. Each week students will be required to submit 2 copies of a 1-2 page (double spaced, typed) journal focussing on one aspect of the material for that week. One of these copies should have your name on it and will be for the facilitator and the other should be anonymous and will be for me. They will not be graded but will be commented on by the facilitator and returned to students the next week. These journal entries are opportunities for students to work on some of the issues that come up in response to the class. Grades will be based on attendance and completion of journal entries on time. More than two unexcused absences, or more than two missed journal entries will result in a "F" for the practicum. The grade for the practicum is completely separate from the grade for the course. Only students who are registered in this class will be enrolled in the practicum.

REQUIRED BOOKS:

Theodore Allen, The Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control, V. 1. 1994. London: Verso
Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. 1992. Cambridge: Harvard University Press
Lillian Smith, Killers of the Dream. 1994. New York: W.W. Norton

BOOKS ARE FOR SALE AT:
FOOD FOR THOUGHT BOOKS--E. PLEASANT STREET, AMHERST

READER IS FOR SALE AT:
COLLECTIVE COPIES--S. PLEASANT STREET, AMHERST

BOOKS AND READER ARE ON RESERVE IN LIBRARY AND IN THE WOMEN'S STUDIES LOUNGE -- 208 BARTLETT


COURSE CALENDAR

1/27 & INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE & DEFINITIONS
2/1 VIDEO SHOWING: The Color of Fear

READING: Theodore Allen, The Invention of the White Race (Allen), "Introduction"
Barbara Jeanne Fields, "Slavery, Race and Ideology in the USA" (Reader)
Charles W. Mills, "Overview" (Reader)

2/3 WHO IS WHITE? WHO IS "OF COLOR?" RACIAL CONUNDRUMS AND THE "WEAKNESS" OF "WHITE BLOOD"
READING:
Ian F. Haney Lopez, "A Note on Whiteness," "White Lines," & "Appendix A, The Racial Prerequisite Cases" & "Appendix B, Excerpts . . ." (Reader)

2/8 WHAT IS RACIAL OPPRESSION? READING: Allen, Chapter 1

2/10 & THE CREATION OF WHITENESS
2/15 THE IRISH, RELIGION & CLASS
READING:
Allen, Chapters 2 & 3

2/17 CONQUEST, THE SLAVE TRADE, & DEVELOPING CAPITALISM
READING:
Ronald Bailey, "'Out of Sight, Out of Mind': The Struggle of African American Intellectuals Against the Invisibility of the Slave[ry] Trade . . ." (Reader)

2/22 SHIFTING GENDER CONSTRUCTIONS
VIDEO SHOWING: Sigrid Brauner
READING:
Merry E. Weisner, "Spinning Out Capital: Women's Work . . ." (Reader)
Immanuel Wallerstein, "The Ideological Tensions of Capitalism: Universalism Versus Racism and Sexism" (Reader)

2/24 WHITE SUPREMACY, NATIONALISM AND DEMOCRACY: BRITAIN AND IRELAND
READING:
Allen, Chapters 4 & 5

2/29 BECOMING WHITE AND RESISTING WHITENESS
READING:
David Roediger, "Irish American Workers & White Racial Formation" (Reader)
Herbert Aptheker, "Introduction" and "Abolitionism and Racism" (Reader)
Reginald Horsman, "Race & Manifest Destiny. . ." (Reader)

3/2 MAINTAINING WHITE SUPREMACY--THE ROLE OF SCIENCE
READING:
Audrey Smedley, "A Different Order of Being . . ." (Reader)

3/7 MAINTAINING WHITE SUPREMACY--THE ROLE OF LITERATURE
READING:
Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark (first half)

3/9 Continue Morrison
READING:
Finish Playing in the Dark

March 14 & 16 -- SPRING BREAK -- NO CLASS

3/21 WHITE PUBLIC SPACE
GUEST LECTURE: Professor Enoch Page, Anthropology
READING:
Page, "No Black Public sphere in White Public Space . . ." (Reader)

3/23 WHITE SUPREMACY AND CHRISTIANITY
READING:
Lillian Smith, Killers of the Dream (first half)
Grace E. Hale, "Domestic Reconstruction" & "Seeing the Land of Difference" (Reader)

3/28 continue Smith
READING:
finish Killers of the Dream

3/30 & WHITE SUPREMACY AND WOMEN'S "NATURE"
4/4 READING:
Claudia Koontz, "Love and Order in the Third Reich," (Reader)
Kathleen Blee, "Reading Racism: Women in the Modern Hate Movement" (Reader)
Kathleen Blee, "Womanhood and the Klan Fraternity" (Reader)
Adrienne Rich, "Disloyal to Civilization" & "The Distance Between Language and Violence" (Reader)

4/6 WHITE SUPREMACY AND THE "INVISIBILITY" OF RACE
READING:
Thomas Rose, "Innocence and Affirmative Action" (Reader)
Barbara J. Flagg, "Transparently White Subjective Decision Making. . ." (Reader)
Trina Grillo & Stephanie Wildman, "Obscuring the Importance of Race . . . " (Reader)
Wildman with Davis, "Language and Silence . . ." (Reader)

4/11 SHADES OF WHITENESS/CLASS
READING:
John Hartigan, "Name Calling: Objectifying 'Poor Whites' . . . " (Reader)
Doug Henwood, "Trash-O-Nomics" (Reader)

4/13 PUBLIC POLICY, WHITE SUPREMACY AND KEEPING RACE "INVISIBLE"
READING:
Jill Quadagno, "The Politics of Welfare Reform," & "Explaining American Exceptionalism," (Reader)
Rickie Solinger, "The Stick and The Carrot . . ." (Reader)

4/18 WHITE SUPREMACY AND ETHNICITY
VIDEO: PINCHED CHEEKS AND SLURS IN A LANGUAGE THAT AVOIDS HER
READING:
David Roediger, "Whiteness & Ethnicity & the History of 'White Ethnics' in the U.S." (Reader)
Karen Sacks, "How Jews Became White Folks" (Reader)

4/20 NO CLASS--MONDAY AT UMASS

4/25 BECOMING RACE TRAITORS--TRANSGRESSING THE BORDERS
READING:
John H. Bracey, "The Responsibility of Whites for Racial Justice"
Wimsatt, "We Use Words Like Mackadocious..." & "Aren't You in the Wrong Neighborhood?' (Reader)
Winant, "Behind Blue Eyes: Whiteness and Contemporary U.S. Racial Politics (Reader)
Editors of Race Traitor Magazine, "What We Believe" (Reader)
Noel Ignatiev, "How to be a Race Traitor: Six Ways to Fight Being White" (Reader)

4/27 MILITANT WHITENESS--VICTIMS AND DEFENDERS
VIDEO SHOWING: Blood in the Face
READING:
Ross & Mauney, "The Changing Face of White Supremacy" (Reader)
Seamus Dunn & Valerie Morgan, "Protestant Alienation in Northern Ireland" (Reader)

5/2 DISCUSSION OF Blood in the Face
PRESENTATION OF STUDENT ACTION PROJECTS

5/4-11 PRESENTATION OF STUDENT PROJECTS & COURSE SUMMARY