Critical Social Thought

Iyko Day, Chair

Patricia Ware, Academic Department Coordinator


118 Shattuck Hall
413-538-3466
https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/criticalsocialthought

Overview and Contact Information

The Program in Critical Social Thought is designed for students who want to interrogate cultural and social phenomena outside the confines of traditional disciplinary boundaries with the goal of analyzing relations of power embedded in knowledge production and social life. Students apply critical thought from a wide array of intellectual traditions, including critical ethnic studies, performance studies, disability studies, the history of science, psychoanalysis, Marxism, the Frankfurt School, critical race studies, queer theory, feminist theory, and postcolonial theory. Critical Social Thought puts less emphasis on the social, cultural, or scientific objects under study than on its distinctive, interdisciplinary methodology in which student-driven inquiry and research combines theoretical and social critique with a concern for addressing pressing social issues.

Faculty

This area of study is administered by the Critical Social Thought Committee:

Gail Hornstein, Professor of Psychology and Education

Amy Martin, Professor of English

Karen Remmler, Professor of German Studies

Nigel Alderman, Associate Professor of English

Donnie Cotter, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Justin Crumbaugh, Associate Professor of Spanish, Latina/o and Latin American Studies

Iyko Day, Associate Professor of English

Erika Rundle, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts ; Associate Professor of Gender Studies

Lucas Wilson, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Economics

David Hernández, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Latina/o, Latin American Studies

Jina Kim, Mount Holyoke Fellow and Visiting Lecturer in Critical Social Thought

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 40 credits:

CST-200Foundations in Critical Social Thought 4
Two critical social thought courses at the 200 level8
Two critical social thought courses at the 300 level8
One critical social thought capstone seminar to complete a senior capstone project 14
Two approved electives at the 300 level across two departments/programs8
Two additional approved electives at any level8
Total Credits40
1

In the event that there are insufficient numbers of graduating seniors to fill this class, students will complete their capstone projects through independent study or in another 300 level seminar. The capstone project is a thesis, research paper, performance, or multimedia project that serves as a culminating intellectual experience of a self-designed course of study.  Normally this project will be completed in the capstone seminar

Other Requirements

  • Declaring the major. Students who wish to major in critical social thought will meet with the program chair to discuss their major interest and to select two advisors from the program faculty.
  • Proposal. Submitted after completion of CST-200 and prior to declaring the major. Students must submit a 2-3 page proposal that identifies the focus of their course of study, explains its genesis and significance, and includes an annotated list of the courses they have and intend to take for credit in their major. Students will submit the proposal to their two advisors for approval before submitting it to the chair.

Additional Specifications

  • No more than a total of 8 credits of independent study (CST-295, CST-395) may be counted toward the major in addition to 8 credits of CST-395 senior thesis work.
  • Critical social thought is an interdisciplinary major. Students who pursue an interdisciplinary major automatically fulfill the College’s “outside the major” requirement.

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 20 credits:

CST-200Foundations in Critical Social Thought 4
One critical social thought course at the 200 level4
One critical social thought course at the 300 level4
One approved elective at the 200 or 300 level4
One approved elective at the 300 level4
Total Credits20

Other Requirements

  • Declaring the minor. Students who wish to minor in critical social thought shall meet with the program chair to discuss their minor interest and to select an advisor from the program faculty.
  • Proposal. Submitted after completion of CST-200 and prior to declaring the minor. To declare the minor, students must submit a 2-3 page proposal that identifies the focus of their course of study, explains its genesis and significance, and includes an annotated list of the courses they have and intend to take for credit in their minor. Students will submit the proposal to their advisor for approval before submitting it to the chair.

Additional Specifications

  • No more than a total of 4 credits of independent study (CST-295, CST-395) may be counted toward the minor.

Course Offerings

CST-118 Introduction to Political Ideas

CST-118PF Introduction to Political Ideas: 'Political Freedom'

Spring. Credits: 4

What is freedom? What makes freedom political? How has political freedom been understood over time? What are the obstacles on the way to freedom? Is freedom something we even desire? This course will introduce students to the concept of political freedom through diverse readings that include Greek tragedy, modern political thought, the Book of Exodus, Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquistor, and social science research.

Crosslisted as: Politics 118PF
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
A. Aslam

CST-200 Foundations in Critical Social Thought

Spring. Credits: 4

This class introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Critical Social Thought. Students will learn to interrogate and challenge structures of social, cultural, and political power from a variety of theoretical traditions, such as Marxism, critical ethnic studies, queer and gender critique, critical race theory, media studies, performance studies, disability studies, history of science, the Frankfurt school, and settler colonial and postcolonial theory. Developing skills in theoretical and social critique to address pressing social issues, students will be equipped with an interdisciplinary toolbox to pursue independent projects.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
I. Day

CST-208 Global Movements: Migrations, Refugees and Diasporas

Fall. Credits: 4

The voluntary and involuntary movement of people around the globe is the focus of this course on migrations, refugees, and diasporas. Questions of borders, nativism, transnationalism, the global economy, and legality thread through this course as we consider the many social, cultural, environmental, economic, and political factors shaping decisions to leave a home or homeland. Historical and contemporary case studies, compelling theoretical texts, and geographic perspectives on these topics collectively animate our discussions.

Crosslisted as: GEOG-208
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Houston

CST-223 United Colors of Neoliberal America

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

What can Brown do for you? This question captures a central theme of this course: how a word like "Brown" evolved from a 1970s signifier of antiracist coalition building into a motto of the United Parcel Service (UPS), selling speed, efficiency, and access to networks of the global economy. Using interdisciplinary methods, we will explore the way multicultural imagery, Civil Rights discourse, and state policy have converged in the service of global capitalism. Focusing on fiction (egs. Octavia Butler, Karen Yamashita), film (egs. Crash, Sleep Dealers) and secondary sources, we will examine the impact of neoliberal multiculturalism and how cultural producers amplify and challenge its logics.

Crosslisted as: ENGL-223
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
I. Day

CST-248 Science, Revolution, and Modernity

Spring. Credits: 4

Introduces critical analysis of science and technology by tracing the historiography of the Scientific Revolution. The significance of this extended intellectual episode has been assessed in radically different ways throughout the intervening centuries. As such, it provides a fertile ground on which to pose and answer important questions about science and its role in society. What does it mean to regard science as 'revolutionary'? How are scientific developments shaped by, and how do they shape, the social, economic, and political worlds in which they are embedded? How is our contemporary understanding of science and technology influenced by the stories we tell about the past?

Crosslisted as: HIST-248
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
D. Cotter
Restrictions: This course is limited to the sophomore and junior classes.
Notes: Gateway course for minor in Conceptual Foundations of Science

CST-249 Topics in Critical Social Thought

CST-249CC Topics in Critical Social Thought: 'Cults, Conspiracies, and Moral Panics'

Spring. Credits: 4

Using case studies such as the Eugenics Movement, Jonestown, and the Kennedy Assassination, this course will examine how distrust of the government, originally motivated by logical concerns, has transformed the way people think about power in the postmodern era. The class will explore the difference between rational questioning of authority and blind distrust that leads to questionable claims. Through topics such as the War on Drugs, this class shows how the powerful are able to use biases and public fears to carry out their own, often counterproductive, measures. These case studies have issues like race and class at their core. We will examine how certain social issues have managed to endure.

Crosslisted as: SOCI-216CC
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
N. Michaud Wild
Prereq: SOCI-123.

CST-249EM Topics in Critical Social Thought: 'Embodiment in Theory: Precarious Lives from Marx to Butler'

Spring. Credits: 4

We examine the writing of major nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century theorists, such as Marx, Nietzche, Freud, Dubois, Arendt, Fanon, Foucault, Butler, and others through the lens of embodiment. Rather than read theory as an abstract entity, we explore how theory itself is an embodiment of actual lives in which human beings experience life as precarious. What are the social conditions that create vulnerable bodies? How do thinkers who lived or are living precarious lives represent these bodies? Through a series of case studies based on contemporary examples of precarity, we examine the legacy and materiality of critical social thought.

Crosslisted as: GRMST-231EM, GNDST-204EM
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
K. Remmler

CST-249FD Topics in Critical Social Thought: 'Eating Asian America: Thinking through Food in Literature and Culture'

Spring. Credits: 4

This course will focus on 20th and 21st century Asian American literature and culture through the critical lens of food: as medium of representation, crucible of memory, site of labor, and material trace of history. Through analyses of pop culture, literature, film, and cultural history, we will examine the intimate association of Asian American subjects with food, eating and cooking, as well as food's relationship to anti-immigrant sentiment, cultural assimilation, multiculturalist celebration, and U.S. empire. This course will further situate food within an intersectional framework, through which we consider the co-articulation of race with gender, sexuality, class, and nation.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
J. Kim

CST-249FM Special Topics in Critical Social Thought: 'Frames of Mind: Tracking Power/Knowledge'

Fall. Credits: 4

A frame of mind typically refers to a mood or perspective. However, such dispositions also reflect a certain regulation of thought and thus behavior. In other words, something "frames" our minds in the first place. This course explores these ideas by interrogating the history of commonplace assumptions regarding issues such as freedom, race, prison, sexuality, government, and insanity. Authors include Giorgio Agamben, Wendy Brown, Michel Foucault, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edward Said, Ann Laura Stoler, and others.

Crosslisted as: LATAM-287FM
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
J. Crumbaugh
Advisory: The course is geared toward both first-year students with minimal experience with philosophy and other students who have an interest in critical theory.

CST-249RP Topics in Critical Social Thought: 'Race, Racism, and Power'

Spring. Credits: 4

This course analyzes the concepts of race and racism from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students will be asked to bring a critical lens to the ubiquitous, yet frequently misunderstood concepts of race and racism. We will study the sociocultural, political, economic, and historical forces that collaborate and compete with one another in the production of racial categories. This approach will require us to draw connections between wide-scale processes and everyday interactions. This will involve a consideration of a range of issues and concepts, including colonialism, nation, multiculturalism, representation, and violence. The analysis that we develop will ultimately allow us to think rigorously about social inequality, difference resistance, and liberation.

Crosslisted as: LATST-250RP
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
V. Rosa

CST-249YE Special Topics in Critical Social Thought: 'The Undocumented Latina/o Youth Experience: Struggles, Resiliency, and Futures'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course provides an overview of the immigrant rights movement, emphasizing diverse undocumented Latina/o students throughout the K-20 pipeline. Readings and discussions will: address the socio-political construction of 'illegality'; critically examine the creation and implementation of pro- and anti-immigrant legislation, particularly policies that impact undocumented students; survey the challenges and resiliency of the undocumented youth movement as it pertains to education, social mobility, and health; and deconstruct the legislative, political, economic, and cultural factors that impact the undocumented community in the U.S.

Crosslisted as: LATST-250YE, EDUST-250YE
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Soltero López

CST-253 Critical Race Theory

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines the discursive relationship between race and law in contemporary U.S. society. Readings examine the ways in which racial bodies are constituted in the cultural and political economy of American society. The main objective is to explore the rules and social practices that govern the relationship of race to gender, nationality, sexuality, and class in U.S. courts and other cultural institutions. Thinkers covered include W.E.B. DuBois, Kimberle Crenshaw, Derrick Bell, and Richard Delgado, among others.

Crosslisted as: AFCNA-208
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
L. Wilson
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors
Advisory: Critical Social Thought 248, 249,or 250 recommended but not required

CST-256 Rethinking (Under)Development in Latin America

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

When and how did the notion of "development" emerge and spread? Why does nearly every country now aspire to it? What stigmas and hierarchies does the term "under-development" imply? Throughout Latin America, such terms prove highly problematic not only with respect to the material reality they purport to describe but also as a framework for understanding place, time, and selfhood. In this course, students rethink conventional wisdom about "underdevelopment" through the study of writers, filmmakers, and painters from Latin America working at different historical junctures of the twentieth century.

Crosslisted as: LATAM-287DE
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Crumbaugh

CST-258 Existentialism

Fall. Credits: 4

Does human life have meaning (purpose)? Can religion or spirituality provide it? If not, is human life 'absurd'? How can we attain or create meaning in the face of the 'absurdity' of human life? What is genuine human freedom? Are other people in the world obstacles to, or also sources for, our attempt to attain or create meaning in our lives? What is existential commitment and 'authenticity'? Is existentialist ethics possible at all? We will examine the central themes of existentialism in readings from Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir, and Fanon (among others). We will also end the course by considering some significant criticisms of existentialism.

Crosslisted as: PHIL-255
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Koo

CST-280 Literary and Cultural Theory

Spring. Credits: 4

An introduction to literary and cultural theory with an emphasis on twentieth century and contemporary thought. We will focus on crucial questions that have focused, and continue to focus, critical debate. These questions may include representation, subjectivity, ideology, identity, difference, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and nation. Throughout we will be particularly interested in the ways in which language and form mediate and construct social experience.

Crosslisted as: ENGL-280
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
A. Rodgers
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

CST-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

CST-339 The Visual Culture of Protest

Spring. Credits: 4

This course examines social protests from the perspective of the visual. Examining cultural productions from 1948-2015 we will focus on the geographical specificity of planned and spontaneous protests that have mobilized people into action. We will use a black studies framework to engage the possibilities present in resisting disparate power structures of race, gender, sexuality, class, and region. Artists, musicians, activists, writers, and grassroots organizers of social movements have been ever cognizant of the role of the visual in subverting power structures. We will use this opportunity to place visual culture at the center of a conversation concerning resistance, human rights, political agency, citizenship, and freedom.

Crosslisted as: AFCNA-339, ENGL-339
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
K. Brown
Prereq: ENGL-199/200, or AFCNA-200.

CST-346 Irish Gothic

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This advanced seminar will study the gothic as a genre and as a malleable yet persistent discursive site in Irish literary and political tradition. From the eighteenth century to the present, the gothic has been used to explore aspects of Irish history, in particular colonialism. The course will focus on texts that engage with three primary problems that the Irish gothic is used to explore: violence and terror, famine, and vampirism as a political metaphor. We will read novels, short fiction, poetry, and archival newspaper writing, including work by Maturin, Edgeworth, Lady Wilde, Mangan, LeFanu, Stoker, Joyce, Bowen, Enright, Deane, Boland, and Heaney.

Crosslisted as: ENGL-346
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
A. Martin
Instructor permission required.
Advisory: online application required
Notes: meets English department 1700-1900 requirement; meets English department seminar requirement

CST-349 Advanced Topics

CST-349AX Advanced Topics: 'Making Waves: Gender and Sexuality in Asian America'

Spring. Credits: 4

Dragon ladies, lotus blossoms, geisha girls--the U.S. cultural imaginary is saturated with myths regarding Asian sexuality and gender. This interdisciplinary course intervenes into this dominant imaginary by exploring feminist and queer frameworks derived from Asian-American contexts: immigration, labor, racial stereotyping, militarization, citizenship, and so-called "terrorism." Through a mix of scholarly, creative, activist, and media texts, we will challenge preconceived notions about Asian Americans as regressive, repressed, or hyper-sexual, as well as examine the powerful counter-imaginaries offered within Asian American literature and culture.

Crosslisted as: GNDST-333AX
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
J. Kim
Prereq: GNDST-101.

CST-349BT Advanced Topics: 'The Body Toxic: Narratives of Race, Disability, and Illness'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines the intersections of race, disability, illness, and health using literature and culture as primary sites of engagement. Looking to writers like Audre Lorde, Anna Deavere Smith, Mia Mingus, Harriet Jacobs, and Indra Sinha, it asks how structures of racial, environmental, and economic inequity transform the category of disability, which critics have primarily defined in terms of whiteness. It also considers alternate conceptions of health--models that do not align with mandates of productivity or normative embodiment--offered by the texts under consideration, and asks what political/ social liberation might look like when able-bodiedness is no longer privileged.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
J. Kim

CST-349FM Advanced Topics: 'Latina Feminism'

Spring. Credits: 4

What is Latina Feminism? How does it differ from and/or intersect with other feminisms? This interdisciplinary course explores Latina feminism in relation to methodology and epistemology through a historical lens. We will explore topics related to knowledge production, philosophies of the "self," positionality, the body, and representation. Our approach in this class will employ an interlocking analysis to feminist theory that understands the interconnectedness between multiple forms of oppression, including race, class, sexuality, and ability. Our goal is to develop a robust understanding of how Latina feminist methodologies and epistemologies can be tools for social change.

Crosslisted as: LATST-350FM, GNDST-333FM
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning
V. Rosa

CST-349MC Advanced Topics: 'Latinas/os and Housing: Mi Casa Is Not Su Casa'

Fall. Credits: 4

Housing is closely tied to quality of life and the health of neighborhoods and communities. This interdisciplinary seminar explores Latinas/os' relationship to housing and home ownership by examining: the history of housing policy in the United States; national identity, assimilation and housing; and discriminatory housing policies/programs and housing inequality. We will explore topics including immigration, housing policy, public housing, segregation, gentrification, the suburbs, and community building. Exploring this range of topics will help us develop a more clear understanding of why housing is one of the most pressing issues for Latinas/os today.

Crosslisted as: LATST-350MC
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
V. Rosa

CST-349MW Advanced Topics: 'Memory (of) War'

Spring. Credits: 4

The medium of cinema has shown persistent concern with war and memory, and has constituted a heated battleground for rememberance and erasure of the past. Through cinema, in other words, we most clearly see both memories of war and subsequent wars among competing memories. The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the repressive military regime of Francisco Franco (1939-1975), and recent attempts to "recuperate" memory all dramatize these dynamics and raise a number of larger questions. How do destruction and devastation register through the visual? What happens when we attempt to police memory (through censorship, propaganda, etc.)? What and why do people choose to remember or forget?

Crosslisted as: SPAN-340MW, FLMST-370MW
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
J. Crumbaugh
Prereq: Two courses in Spanish at the 200-level above SPAN-212.
Notes: Taught in Spanish.

CST-349NE Advanced Topics: 'Imperial Neoliberalism'

Spring. Credits: 4

This course is a critical exercise taught at the intersection of two seemingly incommensurable terms, imperialism and neoliberalism. Charting the genealogies of these terms, we will explore the lines of entanglements that hold these two concepts together as mutually reinforcing projects. In part the course will address how self-governance and self-determination under liberal democratic regimes work to accomplish the neoliberal objectives, hence curtailing the legitimacy of the sovereign will as an essential democratic value. This course will also focus on ways neoliberal mandates legitimize the expansion of imperial extractive capacity beyond what physical territorial aggrandizement limited.

Crosslisted as: POLIT-307, AFCNA-341NE
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
B. Forjwuor
Restrictions: This course is open to Juniors and Seniors.
Prereq: 8 credits in politics.

CST-349PW Advanced Topics: 'Once More With Feeling: Intimacies and Affects in a Posthuman World'

Fall. Credits: 4

Affect theory offers a varied and rich critical language to explore how emotion circulates within and among human bodies-and nonhuman ones as well. If emotions operate through bodily changes and chemical exchanges, then animals and nonhumans might similarly be seen as bodies replete with affective materials in motion and at rest. In this course we will read through an array of affect theory from cognitive science, animal studies, and posthumanist debates on the affect of objects. We will consider how humans know what they feel (and when), how animals love, how forests think, and how affects might cross human and nonhuman boundaries.

Crosslisted as: ENGL-382PW
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
K. Singer
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors
Advisory: Prior experience with theory is helpful but not necessary.

CST-349RC Advanced Topics: 'The Philosophy of Recognition'

Fall. Credits: 4

Since the 1960s, many social movements for justice, equality, and inclusion in our world have taken the form of struggles for recognition (e.g., antiracism, feminism, multiculturalism, LGBT activism, etc.). What is recognition in this sense and conversely misrecognition, i.e., the sort of harm or injustice done to someone or certain populations of people by failing or choosing not to recognize them? How can (mis)recognition show up and be theorized both as a matter of how people are socially constituted and how they should treat one another? We will discuss readings (among others) from Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, Hannah Arendt, Iris Young, Charles Taylor, Axel Honneth, Nancy Fraser, and Patchen Markell.

Crosslisted as: PHIL-353RC, GNDST-333RC
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Koo
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors
Prereq: One prior course at the 200 level in philosophy, politics, sociology, critical social thought, or gender studies.

CST-349RT Advanced Topics: 'Critical Race Theory in Education'

Spring. Credits: 4

This course focuses on Critical Race Theory, its history and application in the field of Education. Through course readings and assignments, students will explore and discuss key issues such as race/racism, class/classism, gender/sexism among other "isms" and how they impact the teaching and learning experiences of students of color. This course is specifically designed to challenge students and make them think critically about their multiple identities, privileges and challenges as students and future leaders. The goal is gain a critical understanding of the connection between theory, research, and practice in order to better understand educational structures, processes, and discourses.

Crosslisted as: LATST-350RT, EDUST-351RT
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
A. Soltero-López
Notes: Students interested in careers within Education are highly encouraged to enroll.

CST-349WC Advanced Topics: 'Writing Capitalism's Ruins'

Fall. Credits: 4

There's a low buzz; we feel nervous. Is this capitalism's end? Have zombie silhouettes hit the horizon yet? Keep checking. Anthropology narrates collective feelings, gives form to the ambience. But what's the ambience of late industrialism; what's it feel like to collapse? As we watch factory buildings crumble, we wonder whether the tap water's clean. The question of how to write the world (anthropologically-speaking) must also be a question of how to survive, thrive, and even flourish. Archaeologists have long explored decadence, collapse, and ruins. Cultural anthropologists now find themselves in the archaeologists' shoes. Drawing from archaeology, cultural anthropology, ecology, and literary theory, this course will be an open-ended, writing-oriented examination of contemporary experiences of ruins and ruination.

Crosslisted as: ANTHR-316WC
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
M. Watson
Prereq: ANTHR-105.

CST-349WT Advanced Topics: 'Sociology of 9/11 and the War on Terror'

Spring. Credits: 4

We will explore the cultural and political impact of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The media's role in constructing meanings will be a main organizing focus of the course. Using readings, discussions, assignments, and films, the course will allow students to form a picture of how 9/11 changed America and beyond. Course topics include: the way the mainstream media constructed 9/11 and alternate ways they could have; how popular culture and the Public Sphere responded; complex historical factors leading up to 9/11; reasons the attackers say they committed the attacks; ways the event changed culture and politics in the world; conspiracy theories.

Crosslisted as: SOCI-316WT
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
N. Michaud Wild
Prereq: 8 credits in Sociology

CST-391 Pivotal Political Ideas

CST-391CT Pivotal Political Ideas: 'Capitalism'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

After reviewing the classic defense of capitalism as an engine of freedom, progress, and productivity, we will examine major shifts in the critique of capitalism from the early 19th to the early 21st century. This critical conceptual history will range over successive claims that capitalism foments labor exploitation and class inequality, imperialism, instrumentalism, the commodification of culture, the privatization of the commons, and the re-making of subjectivities to suit market imperatives. The course will conclude with Pope Francis's charge that the global capitalist system endangers 'whatever is fragile, like the environment' and devours everything 'in the way of increased profits.' Is Francis right, and if so, what are possible cures for these ills?

Crosslisted as: POLIT-391CT
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
A. Aslam
Prereq: One course in political theory or critical social thought.

CST-391DT Pivotal Political Ideas: 'Democratic Theory'

Spring. Credits: 4

Today democracy is seen as the only legitimate regime type, but there is very little consensus about what democracy refers to. This course will explore competing understandings of democracy and its relationship to state institutions and laws. Students will be introduced to contemporary debates over the normative basis of democracy and difficulties of democratic practice and citizenship. Among the questions we will explore are: what is the relationship between liberalism and democracy? Do rights represent the beginning or the end of democratic citizenship? Can democracy exist within a government or does it take form in opposition to it?

Crosslisted as: POLIT-391DT
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
A. Aslam
Restrictions: This course is open to Juniors and Seniors.
Prereq: 8 credits in politics.

CST-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.