Sociology 260W, Fall 2007
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:30-3:45
Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur
Office: 113 South Court (office hours TBA)
Why should we study race? Race does not "exist" in any physical or
biological sense. The genes that dictate our skin color, our hair
color, the shape of our eyes or our nose--these genes do not come in
some neat little bundle that tells us who belongs to which group.
Indeed, over history and still today there has not been a consensus on
how to classify people into races or even how many races exist.
However, race is extremely real in its effects on our lives as
individuals and as members of society. By studying race, along with
ethnicity (an idea which is often confused or conflated with race), we
can unravel where race comes from, why it still matters, how it impacts
us, and how it intersects with other sorts of inequality in society.
This course has three primary substantive goals. First, it will help
develop an understanding of the historical dynamics of race and
ethnicity and the ways in which they have shaped the contemporary
United States. Second, it will explore the complex interactions between
race and other forms of inequality (class, gender, sexuality,
disability) as well as between race and significant social institutions
(education, employment, family, media, the criminal justice system)
that shape our daily lives. Finally, it will help students develop an
understanding of both how the realities of race and ethnicity have
shaped their own personal histories, their communities, and the policy
debates that currently face our world. As a writing-intensive course,
it additionally will give students the opportunity to develop and
improve their writing skills, particularly their ability to write about
controversial issues and about quantitative and geographical data.