About CRES 096 F

See Schedule of Courses for specific titles.


Open to Degree and CDE students; Cross listed with ENGS 057 B; Total combined enrollment = 50

Section Description

In the United States, race is something the pioneering French sociologist Emile Durkheim would call a “social fact” – perhaps the most consequential social fact in the history and culture of the nation. Not only did the settlement and growth of the nation hinge on epochal race-centered processes and institutions (Indian removal, plantation slavery, etc.); for most of the nation’s history its federal and state constitutions and laws defined citizenship, voting eligibility, economic and civil rights in racially exclusionary terms. Notions of racial difference and conditions of racial hierarchy are deeply embedded in American behavior, thought, feeling, attitudes, and customs. Simply put, America has constituted itself – literally formed itself -- through race. No sphere of the nation’s social and cultural life (politics, economics, religion, science, media, education, the arts, entertainment) has gone untouched. Race in the U.S. is a system of belief and practice that assigns different kinds and levels of worth, value, status and desirability to its racialized bodies and racialized spaces while generating heightened emotions toward its racialized images, languages, and styles of expression. Race is a primary tool by which Americans (consciously or not) make sense of their culture and their place within it. Here’s the fascinating rub: in order to understand race as a social fact, we need to understand race as a fiction, a political invention. How does something that scientists tell us does not exist in the DNA of the body nevertheless become a crucial part of America’s social DNA? Why is understanding the fiction of race a key to understanding race in the United States as a social fact? We will engage these important questions by reading and discussing the work of writers and scholars who have grappled with the nuances and complexities of race as both fiction and social fact. In addition to fiction, memoir, history, and polemic, we’ll also examine visual culture, film and media, and music as realms of racial representation and discourse.

Section Expectation

My teaching style favors a combination of discussion, Socratic-style debate, and very careful analysis of assigned texts (which means that you must ALWAYS have the required reading material with you in class). I ask that you come to class with your mouth, ears, heart, and mind open; that you listen to and respect each other; and that you challenge yourself, your classmates, and me to do our very best.


Grading is based on class attendance and participation; in-class informal essays; formal essays; group presentation.

Course Dates



Harris Hall 115 (View Campus Map)


to on Tuesday and Thursday

Important Dates

Note: These dates may change before registration begins.

Note: These dates may not be accurate for select courses during the Summer Session.

Last Day to Add
Last Day to Drop
Last Day to Withdraw with 50% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw with 25% Refund
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