Race and Media: Image, Text, Sound
Race and Media: Image, Text, Sound explores the ways in which “race” is defined in diverse textual forms and media. The course will investigate race in American print, visual, and sound cultures. We will examine how meanings of race in these primary texts—and knowledge about race in general—are shaped by the forms, genres, and media of expression. Primary texts will be read, viewed, and listened to alongside foundational theories of culture and media. The course is organized in three thematic sequences: 1) questions of medium, including those on form and content; 2) questions of media, including those on modernity, perception, and aesthetics; and 3) questions of mediation, including those on institutions, structures, and identities. Broadly, the course will use the vocabularies that media and cultural theory offers to help us understand how the literary, visual, and sound arts provide special insights into the relationships among media, history, aesthetics, and race.
Texts for the first sequence include theories, artworks, and artifacts by Marshall McLuhan (1964), T.S. Eliot (1921), Toni Morrison (1993), Howard Winant (2003), Langston Hughes (1934), and Beyoncé (2016). Texts for the second sequence include Frederick Douglass (1863), Walter Benjamin (1936), Stuart Hall (1981), James Luna (1991), and Claudia Rankine (2014). Texts for the third sequence include Karl Marx (1867), Michel De Certeau (1984), Andrea Fraser (1990), Catherine Squires (2013), Phillip Brian Harper (2015), Karen Shepard (2013), the Kehinde Wiley retrospective at the Seattle Art Museum (2016), the Khalil Joseph exhibition at the Frye Museum (2016), and Kendrick Lamar (2015, 2016).
The course readings and assignments are designed to be active learning strategies that allow students to develop broad analytical skills along with a deeper understanding of race and media. Therefore, throughout the quarter we’ll use reading and writing as an opportunity to think through a complex issue rather than to “prove” our knowledge. In this course, the study of print, visual, and sound texts will help students achieve the following English 200 goals:
- Students will develop the ability to perform competent critical analyses & interpretations of course texts (and understand it as a skill that could be carried over to writing scenarios beyond English 200).
- Students will develop discussion and presentation skills (in writing and orally) in the interest of being better able to construct and defend their own arguments or interpretations.
- Students will be able to understand and speak in a sophisticated way about theoretical definitions of race, media, and other concepts.
The complete syllabus for enrolled students is posted under "Files."
“Race and Media: Image, Text, Sound” explores the ways in which “race” is defined in diverse textual forms and media. The course will investigate race in 20th and 21st century print, visual, and sound cultures. We will examine how meanings of race in each course text-- and knowledge about race in general-- are shaped by the forms, genres, and media of expression. The primary texts of the course may include Langston Hughes short stories, Ralph Ellison Invisible Man, Octavia Butler Fledgling, Sayeeda Clarke White, Karen Shephard The Celestials, Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly, Claudia Rankine Citizen: An American Lyric, and the “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic” exhibition at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Secondary texts include criticism on the primary texts as well as theories of race and media in general, including essays by Cornel West, bell hooks, Kobena Mercer, Shawn Michelle Smith, and Jacqueline Goldsby. Broadly, this course will help us understand how the literary and visual arts provide special insights into the relationships among media, history, and race.