ES 310 - Topic: Race & the Media
Instructor: Irum Shiekh
Term: Fall 2015
This course examines the interface between race and popular culture. As an ethnic studies course, it privileges race as a category of analysis when surveying the historical development, political significance, and social influence of popular culture in the United States. This course focuses on the historic and contemporary relationship people of color have with the production and consumption of popular culture. As a form of entertainment, popular culture reflects an amalgam of complex, and sometimes contradictory, social meanings and relations. On one hand, this course demonstrates how popular culture has been used as a mechanism that (re)produces white supremacist ideologies and practices, that is, how popular culture effects prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination. On the other hand, it illustrates how people of color have used popular culture to create a counter-discourse to white supremacy, that is, to (re)produce cultural values, to foster a sense of community and to create an identity politics. This course will primarily have a lecture format. Weekly discussions of course materials will also ne incorporated. Possible topics include the history and politics of hip-hop, the interplay of “official” and popular sources in indigenous cultural production, the role of racialized sexuality and gender in contemporary U.S. popular culture, as well as the relationships of specific groups, like Asian Americans, to popular culture. This course satisfies the University’s multicultural requirement for Category B: Identity, Pluralism, and Tolerance (IP) by helping students to gain scholarly insight into the construction of African-American, Arab-American, Asian-American, Latino and/or Indigenous identities. As such, it describes the emergence of representative voices from varying cultural perspectives and the effects of prejudices, intolerance, and discrimination in the cultural production of people of color. In addition to surveying cultural standpoints, Race and Popular Culture also considers other aspects of identity, e.g. class, gender sexuality and religion, as contributing to cultural pluralism and as important factors in shaping identities and informing the emergence of voices in response to prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination. By observing white consumption of popular culture produced by people of color, this course will also consider general principles underlying the concept of (in)tolerance. This course is open to majors and non-majors and satisfies an upper-division ES elective requirement for Ethnic Studies majors and minors. This course has no prerequisites, although ES 101,250,252, or 256 is recommended.