Examines in detail one (or more) case of social, political, legal, and/or cultural conflict, focusing on how it has been remembered, reconstructed, and reimagined, both textually and institutionally. Stresses diverse interpretive and methodological approaches within American Studies.
A founding member of the legendary Black Panther Party in the 1960s, Richard Aoki was one of the only Japanese American members of the group. He went on to help start the ethnic studies program at UC Berkeley and become a counselor and mentor to students of color until his death in 2009. A string of recent texts have re-examined his life, with the authors coming to wildly divergent accounts of Aokiís life and influence. In studying the representation of Aokiís life, this class will ask the following the questions: What accounts for these differences, and can they be reconciled? On what evidence have analysts staked their claims? And how do these different interpretations shape how we remember Aoki and the various movements (especially Black Power and Asian-American and ethnic studies) with which he was associated?
In answering these questions, we will examine primary and secondary sources, apply critical methods to historical issues, evaluate historical sources, engage conflicts among historical accounts, practice different modes of historical writing and critique.
Student learning goals
To understand how historical claims are made and tested in both scholarly and popular texts.
To examine the ways in which history and memory sometimes collude and sometimes clash.
To understand the historical development and contemporary significance of ethnic studies and the social movements that helped create it.
To enhance critical thinking and research skills.
To enhance writing and presentation skills.
General method of instruction
The method of instruction for this course includes lecture, small group work, films, and in-class student discussion.
Although there are no formal prerequisites for this course, students enrolling in this class should possess a passion for dialogue and an appetite for intellectual risk-taking. An interest in the ongoing presence of the past in our daily life is essential for this class. Excitement for the history and present of social justice activism is a plus.
Class assignments and grading
The nature of assignments include formal and informal written assignments, collaborative research, class participation, student presentations, and other critical thinking exercises. Students will be expected to keep a research journal throughout the quarter to evaluate some of the claims we will be reading throughout the class. of ongoing Specific criteria vary by assignment, but for written work generally emphasize: organization and clarity of statement, effective argumentation, use and understanding of evidence, depth of analysis, and originality of insights.