WOST 397L THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF WHITENESS AND WOMEN
Spring 2002
Professor Arlene Avakian
TuTh 1:00-2:15
OFFICE HOURS: Tuesday 2:30, and by appointment, 208 Bartlett
avakian@wost.umass.edu

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, it's 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. This semester we are going to have three joint sessions with Professor Deschamps course WOST 394H, Theorizing Black Feminisms. These sessions will be two and a half hours long and the times will be arranged in the first week of class. We hope to be able to provide dinner.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

  • 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. (10%)

  • INDIVIDUAL WRITTEN WORK: Students will be expected to write 2 five page analytic papers. Topics will be announced in class. Each paper will be 35% of the grade. (70%) Paper 1 due 3/12; paper 2 due 4/30.

  • 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. (20%)

  • 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 approximately 10 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 focusing 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


    COURSE CALENDAR

    1/29 & INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE & DEFINITIONS

    1/31 -- 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)

    2/5 -- 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)

    2/7 -- WHAT IS RACIAL OPPRESSION?

    Reading: Allen, Chapter 1

    2/12 -- NO CLASS TODAY

    SPECIAL JOINT CLASS WITH WOST 394H, THEORIZING BLACK FEMINISMS TIMES TO BE ARRANGED

    Video Showing: Race: The Floating Signifier
    Slide Showing: Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America

    Reading:
    John Lewis, "Forward" (Reader) Leon F. Litwack, "Hellhounds" (Reader) Stuart Hall, "New Ethnicities" (Reader)

    2/14 -- THE CREATION OF WHITENESS THE IRISH, RELIGION & CLASS

    Reading: Allen, Chapter 2

    2/19 -- NO CLASS-TODAY IS A MONDAY AT UM

    2/21 -- CONTINUATION OF THE CREATION OF WHITENESS

    Reading: Allen, Chapter 3

    2/26 CONQUEST, THE SLAVE TRADE, DEVELOPING CAPITALISM & SHIFTING GENDER CONSTRUCTIONS

    Reading:
    Ronald Bailey, "'Out of Sight, Out of Mind': The Struggle of African American Intellectuals Against the Invisibility of the Slave[ry] Trade . . ." (Reader)
    Randall Robinson, "Thoughts About Restitution," (Reader)
    Merry E. Weisner, "Spinning Out Capital: Women's Work . . ." (Reader)
    Reginald Horsman, "Race and Manifest Destiny . . ." (Reader)

    2/28 MAINTAINING WHITE SUPREMACY-SCIENCE & EPISTEMOLOGY GUEST LECTURE: Banu Subramaniam

    Reading: Nancy Leys Stepan, "Race and Gender: The Role of Analogy in Science" (Reader)
    Anne Fausto-Sterling, "Gender, Race, and Nation . . ." (Reader)
    Stephen Jay Gould, "American Polygeny and Craniometry Before Darwin" (Reader)
    Garland E. Allen, "Science Misapplied: The Eugenics Age Revisited" (Reader)

    3/5 WHITE SUPREMACY, NATIONALISM AND DEMOCRACY: BRITAIN AND IRELAND

    Reading:
    Allen, Chapters 4 & 5

    3/7 -- BECOMING WHITE AND RESISTING WHITENESS

    Reading:
    David Roediger, "Irish American Workers & White Racial Formation" (Reader)
    Herbert Aptheker, "Introduction" and "Abolitionism and Racism" (Reader)

    3/12 -- MAINTAINING WHITE SUPREMACY-LITERATURE

    Reading:
    Toni Morrison, "Preface" & Chapter 1, Paying in the Dark

    Paper 1 Due

    3/14 -- CONTINUE MORRISON

    Reading:
    Chapter 2, Playing in the Dark

    March 19 & 21 -- SPRING BREAK -- NO CLASS

    3/26 NO CLASS

    SPECIAL JOINT CLASS TBA WITH BLACK FEMINIST THEORY

    Film Showing: Bamboozled
    Reading: Susan Gubar, "Spirit Murder at the Movies" (Reader)

    3/28 -- WHITE SUPREMACY AND CHRISTIANITY

    Reading:
    Lillian Smith, Killers of the Dream (first half-Forward, Introduction to page 80)
    Grace E. Hale, "Domestic Reconstruction" & "Seeing the Land of Difference" (Reader)

    4/2 -- CONTINUE SMITH

    Reading:
    finish Killers of the Dream (parts 2 & 3, not part 4)

    4/4 -- WHITE SUPREMACY AND WOMEN'S "NATURE"

    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)

    4/9 WHITE SUPREMACY AND FEMINISM

    Reading:
    Adrienne Rich, "Disloyal to Civilization" & "The Distance Between Language and Violence" (Reader)

    4/11 -- WHITE WOMEN AND THE MAINTENANCE OF PRIVILEGE

    Reading:
    Tim Wise, "Is Sisterhood Conditional? White Women & the Rollback . . ." (Reader)

    4/16 WHITE SUPREMACY AND KEEPING RACE "INVISIBLE"

    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)

    4/18 -- SHADES OF WHITENESS/CLASS

    Reading:
    John Hartigan, "Name Calling: Objectifying 'Poor Whites' . . . " (Reader)
    Doug Henwood, "Trash-O-Nomics" (Reader)
    Georg Lipsitz, "The Possessive Investment in Whiteness . . ." (Reader)

    4/23 -- SHADES OF WHITENESS/ETHNICITY

    Video Showing: Pinched Cheeks and Slurs in a Language That Avoids Her
    Reading:
    David Roediger, "Whiteness & Ethnicity in the History . . ." (Reader)
    Karen Sacks, "How Jews Became White Folks" (Reader)

    4/25 -- PUBLIC POLICY, WHITE SUPREMACY AND "RACE NEUTRALITY"

    Reading:
    Jill Quadagno, "The Politics of Welfare Reform," (Reader)
    Rickie Solinger, "The Stick and The Carrot . . ." (Reader)

    4/30 -- 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)
    Mab Segrest, "Fear to Joy: Fighting the Klan" (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)
    Immanuel Wallerstein, "The Ideological Tensions of Capitalism . . ." (Reader)

    Paper 2 due

    5/2 & MILITANT WHITENESS--VICTIMS AND DEFENDERS
    5/7 -- Video Showing: Blood in the Face

    Reading:
    Winant, "Behind Blue Eyes: Whiteness and Contemporary U.S. Racial Politics (Reader)
    Ross & Mauney, "The Changing Face of White Supremacy" (Reader)
    Seamus Dunn & Valerie Morgan, "Protestant Alienation in Northern Ireland" (Reader)

    5/9 NO CLASS

    SPECIAL JOINT CLASS TBA WITH THEORIZING BLACK FEMINISM

    5/14-16 PRESENTATION OF STUDENT PROJECTS & COURSE SUMMARY