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Spring 2021

ASCP 81500: Key Questions in American Studies: Key Questions in American Studies: Black Political Protest in Sport from Plantation Slavery to the Postindustrial Playground, Tuesdays, 2:00pm-4:00pm, 3 credits, Professor Lucia Trimbur. 

On October 16, 1968, John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists during the 200-meter dash medal ceremony at the Mexico City Olympic Games to draw attention to anti-black racism in the United States. Several months later, Harry Edwards, sociologist and mentor to the sprinters, published The Revolt of the Black Athlete detailing the origins, meanings, and aftermath of the protest and arguing that athlete activism was “the newest phase of the black liberation movement in America.” While one of the most iconic demonstrations in sport, Smith and Carlos’s raised fists was neither the first nor last episode of unrest in athletics. From the 1700s to 2020, black men, women, and trans individuals have used the social institution of sport to articulate their political beliefs, claim their humanity, and argue for a more just future. For example, when enslaved black men trained, cared for, and rode racehorses, they asserted access to a modicum of maneuvering room in daily life; participating in sport gave opportunities to speak openly, command respect, and experience more autonomy than other enslaved people. Similarly, when basketball player Ron Artest retreated to rest on the scorer’s table in the midst of a massive brawl between fans and athletes during the 2004 Pacers-Pistons game, he withdrew his labor, an almost unthinkable act for a black professional athlete, as a protest against the disorder around him. Artest’s chosen stillness also connected him to other self-immobilized black bodies in history, such as Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali, and their political convictions. 

This course analyzes political protests among black athletes. We examine the forms of oppression and exploitation they have fought, their sites of resistance, and their modes of activism, big and small, explicit and implicit, publicized and almost unnoticed. We will spend particular attention understanding to the relationship between sport and the construction of racialized identities as well as how athletes have used their art—amateur and professional—to disrupt conventional understandings of “race.” 

ASCP 81500: Power, Resistance, Identities and Social Movements, Thursdays, 6:30pm-8:30pm, 3 credits. Professor Ruth O’Brien. Cross-listed with P SC 72410 

This course focuses on individual forms of socially constructed identity (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and humanness or bodies), intersectional forms of identity (e.g., gender and bodies), and collective forms of identity (e.g., citizen, worker or labor, and anarchist collectives or horizontal non- state civil movements, referred to as social movements in American politics). Several social movements will be explored as case studies. First, we will consider the worldwide struggle to end political and social violence against women (including #MeTooism), and if/how it is having global impact. We will examine, for example, the Combahee River Collective -- an organization of Black feminists who attained international reach by coining the term “identity politics” -- and assess the movement’s global impact, as seen for instance in “Women’s Internationalism against Global Patriarchy,” by Dilar Dirik (and PM Press). It explores how identities in American social movements affect power and resistance, as understood by social theorists and contemporary philosophers such as Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, and Judith Butler, who in turn draw upon Gilles Deleuze, Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, Michel Foucault, Antonio Gramsci, Karl Marx, and G. W. F. Hegel, among others. 


ASCP 82000: Research Practices in American Studies: Constructing History: Architecture and Alternative Histories of New York, Wednesdays, 4:15pm-6:15pm. 3 credits, Elizabeth Macaulay Lewis and Jason Montgomery.  Cross-listed with IDS 81630 

Architecture and the built environment are products of their social, political, and economic circumstances. New York City, a perpetually evolving metropolis, has been shaped by successive waves of immigration, shifting economic priorities (from agriculture and manufacturing to finance and technology), and politics. Today, the impact of gentrification, the lack of affordable housing, and climate change is evident in New York City’s built environment. This is not a new story, but one that has been intrinsic to New York City since its founding. Therefore, rather than relying on the written record as the main evidence for exploring New York’s history, this course will introduce students to the built environment and use the urban fabric of New York--its buildings, streets, and places, along with primary source materials about these edifices from libraries and archives--to construct alternative histories of the city. Erected, used, and inhabited by people of all colors, creeds, socio-economic backgrounds and cultures, architecture and the built environment allows us different insights into the development of New York’s history, inviting us to develop alternative stories about the city’s past. The study of architecture and the built environment is inherently interdisciplinary. Students will be introduced to diverse research methods and will be tasked with conducting place-based research on New York City’s built environment during site visits and visits to archives and libraries. The students in the course will have an opportunity to generate new knowledge about New York City, its built environment, and people. 


ASCP 81500: Equity, Elitism, and Public Higher Education, Tuesdays, 6:30pm-8:30pm. 3 credits, Matt Brim and Katina Rogers.  Cross-listed with IDS 81660 

Higher education can be a powerful engine of equity and social mobility. Yet many of the structures of colleges and universities—including admissions offices, faculty hiring committees, disciplinary formations, institutional rankings, and even classroom pedagogies and practices of collegiality—rely on tacit values of meritocracy and an economy of prestige. For public universities like CUNY this tension can be especially problematic, as structurally-embedded inequities undermine the institution’s democratizing mission and values. In other words, many academic structures actually undermine the values that we associate with possibilities for the most challenging and productive and diverse academic life. In this course, we examine the purposes and principles of universities, especially public universities; consider whether various structures advance or undermine those goals; and imagine new possibilities for educational systems that weave equity into the fabric of all they do. Our privileged methodology for considering the inequities and opportunities of university life will be queer of color and feminist materialist analyses, an interdisciplinary set of methods and methodologies that lend themselves to identifying, historicizing, and resisting institutional norms that produce queer-class-race-gender stratification in the university. Crucially, because these intellectual tools are themselves housed within institutional formations, they will be objects of our investigation as well as methods of analysis. 


Students taking courses offered through other units that are appropriate to ASCP 81500/Key Questions in American Studies or ASCP 82000/Research Practices in American Studies, may have them counted toward completion of the certificate program by sending the course details (name, title, instructor(s), and course description) to