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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Daniel Berger
BCULST 593
Bothell Campus

Topics in Cultural Studies

Explores in depth specific historical, political, or social aspects of cultural practice, such as digital humanities, the culture and the environment, or arts as cultural studies, and links this analysis to the varied processes of producing these types of cultural work. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description

The United States, while proclaiming itself a "leader of the free world," is in fact the world leader in incarceration. The prison is inseparable from racial, economic, and gendered structures of power. Yet the prison is also ubiquitous, including our legal code, foreign policy, and popular culture. This class explores the rise, structure, and possible dissolution of mass incarceration. We will draw on a diverse range of scholarship and first-person testimony to ask why the United States has become such a carceral nation, how such reliance on incarceration affects the national polity, and whether it is possible to imagine a world without prisons.

Student learning goals

• Developing an understanding of U.S. prison system and who is most impacted by incarceration;

• Deeping community-based learning by studying the ways that prisons shape American society writ large;

• Learning more about how the American state/government functions;

• Learning the history and present of prison activism, including the ways that physical structures shape political activism;

• Building capacities to think critically about identity and policy, with particular attention to race, class and gender;

• Deepening writing and presentation skills through both group work and individual work;

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Every student is responsible for completing the required reading for each class period and coming to class prepared to discuss them. I will also set up an online discussion board, and I encourage you to utilize it as an extra space in which to further elaborate on course themes. In the event that class is cancelled due to inclement weather or other concerns, you will be required to post to this bulletin board and, where appropriate, to post your handout. Additionally, you will be responsible to present on class readings (required or optional) at least once during the quarter. Your presentation should help identify and facilitate a discussion around the core themes of a given reading and how it relates to other things we’ve read (especially that week). The recommended readings are a way to maximize the collective knowledge of the class, and I suggest you make a handout to distribute that details the core themes of the reading.

The grading distribution is as follows: Response papers: 10% Class participation (including leading class discussion & participation in online discussion boards): 20% Group project and presentation: 30% Literature review or research proposal: 40%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Daniel Berger
Date: 09/18/2012