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Seminars


Please note: Honors Program students may register for one honors course per semester.

Spring Semester 2020


  • HON 114HA — Race and Whiteness
    • Dr. Jose Torres
    • MW 3:30 – 4:45 p.m.
    • 3 Credits

    It is almost impossible in the United States today to turn on the television, click on to social media or a news website and not come across another incident where racism or race seems to be an issue. With the inordinate number of violent police shootings involving people of color (most recently Sandra Bland and Samuel Dubose)—and other racialized events (for example, the Rachel Dolezal controversy; the Black Lives Matter movement; the Confederate Flag controversy after the Charleston shooting; the Ahmed Mohamed clock incident), it is not difficult for topics of race to surge into the nation’s collective discourse.

    Although race and its counterpart “whiteness” are concepts that dominate the American socio-cultural landscape and imagination, it is surprising how little Americans actually know about the origins and history of these two concepts. Indeed, one realizes that what most Americans think they know about race and whiteness (when it’s even considered as a topic of conversation) is based on myths, misinformation, distortion, stereotypes and outright ignorance. Moreover, the majority of Americans do not know the global history of race and whiteness and their relationship to slavery as a continual worldwide human problem. This Honors Seminar primarily focuses on how “race” and “whiteness” are represented by various writers. Through the reading, critical analysis and discussion of these literary texts, you will acquire a stronger understanding of how these socially constructed concepts developed globally and how they continue to operate across cultural and social institutions with significant impact on every American’s life. Readings will include Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Piri Thomas’s Down These Mean Streets, among others. Students will write weekly reaction papers, a book review, and two other significant writing projects.

    This course is designed to allow students:

    1. To learn how “race” and “whiteness” have developed as socially constructed concepts and how they function within a European-centric society and culture.
    2. To understand how literary texts represent, illustrate and illuminate the concepts of “race” and “whiteness.”

    This seminar will satisfy the Humanities component of the Plattsburgh general education program.

    This seminar will meet in the Honors Center — 121 Hawkins Hall, Seminar Room A.

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