Spring 2014 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Saar-Hambazaza, Terje
Discipline and Number
HUMA 3342 Section 501
MW Time 5:30 PM - 6:45 PM
Course Title
Social and Cultural Identities

Description of Course:

From the brutal Don Corleone of The Godfather to crusading Batman to fierce Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games to pop star BeyoncŽ and the 44th president Barack Obama, various cultural and political icons have influenced societyÕs perception of gender, ethnic, racial, and class identities. This course focuses on identity formation in American society and examines the ways in which we construct various social and cultural identities. We will explore personal and collective, national and global expressions of identities, including ethnic, racial, gender, class, and transnational identities. How do identities work? What different factors affect the problem of social and cultural identities? How are identities formed, performed, adapted, expressed, revealed to others, manipulated, guarded, transformed, or even lost? How and why do they survive? What impact do personal identities have on the collective expression of identities? How are they expressed in various written, oral, and visual texts? How have these texts affected our perceptions of American identity? We will explore answers to these questions by familiarizing ourselves with theories of identity construction. We will analyze different cultural texts, including works of literature by James Weldon Johnson, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sandra Cisneros, Louise Erdrich, and Suzanne Collins, films like Do the Right Thing, Citizen Kane, and The Godfather, television programs, contemporary popular music, advertising, and visual arts. Course requirements include: a short self-narrative, a 5-page formal analysis, midterm and final exams. For traditional track students, this course will count as a Related Course.

Required Texts:

Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street (ISBN: 978-0679734772)
Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies (Mariner Books, ISBN: 9780395927205)
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games (book 1) (ISBN: 978-8184771695)
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (ISBN: 978-0679727538)
Nella Larsen, Passing (Penguin Classics), ISBN: 978-0142437278
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (Scribner), ISBN: 978-0743273565
Frank Miller, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (DC Comics), ISBN: 978-1563893421
Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (New Directions, ISBN: 978-0811216029)
Billboard Music Top 10
Films: The Godfather, Do the Right Thing
Selection of articles provided by the instructor

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

A short self-narrative, a 5-page formal analysis, midterm and final exams.

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