Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University

Course No:  350:589
Index # - 15989
Distribution Requirement:  A5, B, C, D
Thursday - 9:50 a.m.  
MU 207

Race and Terror

Ericia Edwards  

This course approaches the relationship between race and terror through theoretical frameworks emerging in Black studies and critical ethnic studies, including Afropessimism, critical security studies, Middle eastern and Arab studies, Latinx studies, and Black feminism. Because the modern world has normalized terror as the very condition of black (non-)being, the study of race has, since its formalization in U.S. universities, been the study of terror. If this was the case before Toni Morrison’s world-shifting 1987 Beloved, or before Saidiya Hartman's groundbreaking 1997 Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America, it is most certainly the case in the aftermath of those monumental literary and literary-critical inquiries into the black's capacity to endure torture and trauma and to create life and language in, or as, the performance of that endurance. At the same time, the race-making power of post-1945 discourses of terror and terrorism--and their attendant tropes of, say, the Arab/Muslim fanatic or the Latina immigrant--have “browned” the already-black nature of threat in the national imaginary. To consider how terror shapes blackness and brownness on both the ontological and discursive levels, we will read several contemporary works of fiction, poetry, performance and scholarship that cover the themes of antiblackness, terrorism, punishment, defense and self-defense, and surveillance. What is the relationship between racial (non-)being and terror? Between terror and creative capacity? Between surveillance and survivance?

This class will meet synchronously; we will use Canvas as our platform. Seminar participants will be encouraged to bring the themes of our study into conversation with their own fields of interest and expertise. Our primary texts will include Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Baldwin’s No Name in the Street, Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, Alexie’s Indian Killer, Antoon’s The Corpse Washer, and Teju Cole’s seven tweeted short stories about drones. Critical readings will include texts by Maylei Blackwell, Christopher Freeburg, Mishuana Goeman, Avery Gordon, Sarah Haley, Saidiya Hartman, Ronak Kapadia, Laleh Khalili, Fred Moten, and Calvin Warren, and among others.

Writing requirements will be four 1000-word book reviews and one conference-length (8-10-page) paper.

 

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