This course will explore the ways in which contemporary fiction, film, and television reflect, reinforce, and perhaps resist three dominant and interrelated political rationalities of the early 21st-century United States: the rationality of neoliberalism, the rationality of post-feminism, and the rationality of the post-racial state. It is concerned with how persistent but evolving economic, gender, and racial inequalities are represented and sustained across both popular cultural and political discourses.
We will explore such questions as: How do fictional depictions of the future reflect present social and political conditions, problems, and desires? How does pop culture legitimate, reinforce, or speak against inequalities pervading the US? How are we conditioned to talk about the meanings of liberty, opportunity, and equality in America today? Have we moved beyond the need to talk about race, race-based inequality, and gender-based inequality? What do various notions of the ‘post-’ suggest, and what do they have in common?
Readings will be drawn from political science, political theory, legal studies, critical race studies, feminist studies, critical cultural studies, English literature, and popular culture. Student grades will be based on discussion participation, short written responses to readings submitted prior to class sessions, written quizzes and exams, and analytical writing assignments.