Judith M.S. Pine
Anthropological view of the contemporary United States with emphasis on social class. Through ethnographic readings examines education, work, political economy, working class experience and the ideology of the middle class, and relations between class and race, gender, ethnicity, language, place, sexuality, and culture.
In A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn writes “It is pretended that, as in the Preamble to the Constitution, it is “we the people” who wrote that document, rather than fifty-five privileged white males whose class interest required a strong central government. That use of government for class purposes, to serve the needs of the wealthy and powerful, has continued throughout American history, down to the present day” (pg 684). This class will offer an anthropological perspective on the issue of class and the maintenance of inequity in the United States.
We will use ethnographic texts and scholarly articles as windows onto the complexity which falls under the label “class” in the United States. We will look particularly at the ways in which “middle class” and “working class” gain significance as part of a discourse through which a dominant US ideology is constructed, the resistance which this effort at hegemony may engender, and role of race, gender, ethnicity, language, place, sexuality and culture within the discourse which creates and maintains class.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
We will discuss current events and issues in the context of the class, and students are encouraged to bring material into the class for discussion. Although we will be a larger group, my goal is a seminar style class with an emphasis on discussion, rather than lecture.
Students will be expected to work independently and as members of small presentation teams.
Class assignments and grading
Students will be expected to participate in one team presentation based on assigned reading. Students will be expected to individually write a detailed summary of their team's presentation. Students will also be expected to write a detailed comment on the presentation of at least one other team of students.