2020-2021 Catalog

CTSJ 395 Special Topics in Critical Theory - Social Justice

An advanced seminar in Critical Theory and Social Justice. May be repeated for credit with a different topic. Different topics may meet different requirements.

Indigenous Literature as Decolonial Praxis

This course will examine Indigenous literature as a form of political cultural production. Using settler colonialism as a context, the texts under examination will be understood as assertions of Indigenous sovereignty. As a result, readers' will come to understand Indigeneity and Indigenous peoples more broadly. By examining primarily 20th and 21st century texts, a contemporary view of Indigenous epistemologies, including ideas of belonging, kinship networks, violence, etc., and social justice struggles will emerge as relevant to current decolonial efforts. This class counts as a methods class for the CTSJ major.

White Queer Theory

This course critiques the ways in which queer theory and politics of the late 20th and 21st century have been a profound site through which whiteness has been able to reproduce and proliferate in the context of the neoliberal incorporation of raced, sexed, gendered difference into structures of capitalism and the US nation-state.  As such, students will engage both the so-called critical texts of white American queer theory and texts from queer indigenous studies, black queer studies, women of color feminisms, and queer of color critique along with the burgeoning fields of black trans studies and trans of color critique that have rigorously critiqued the limits of the so-called critical texts to think [critically] about their reproduction of whiteness and the ways in with their thinking of queerness does not encapsulate the ways in which indigeneity, blackness, and other racialized formations are marked as sexually deviant, non-heteronormative, and queer, both as sexual identities and as populations.  In order to thoroughly interrogate these proliferations students will engage a variety of texts that include theory, history, political movements, and popular culture — texts include the work of Foucault, Judith Butler, Glee, Paris is Burning, #ItGetsBetter, the phenomenon of Milo Yannopoulos (aka Milo Hanrahan), Christine Jorgensen, and the white queer antiblack backlash against the simultaneous passing of prop 8 in California and the election of Barack Obama as the first president; and the work Cathy Cohen, Qwo-Li Driskill, Jasbir Puar, Scott Morgensen, C. Riley Snorton, Roderick Ferguson, and other scholars who have reframed questions of queerness and its intersections with whiteness, settler colonialism, and racial capitalism through frameworks such as homonationalism, settler homonationalism, trans necropolitics, and the queerness of blackness. This class counts as a methods class for the CTSJ major. Core Requirement Met: United States Diversity.


This course seeks to engage the emergent body of scholarship known as Critical White Studies (CWS). This scholarship is designed to deconstruct the racial category “white.”  We will examine the historical, legal, economic, gender, and aesthetic constructions of whiteness.  Particular attention will be paid to the problem of blackface. We will also critically examine CWS. Core Requirement Met: United States Diversity.

Chattel Slavery and Its Afterlives

This course introduces students to the key theoretical and historical frameworks that elucidate the particularities of chattel slavery in the Americas both in its “pre-emancipation” manifestations and as, Saidiya Hartman notes, the ongoing machinations of captivity, domination, and dispossession by which antiblackness continues to structure and suture the world.   In this course, the particularity of chattel slavery emphasizes how the economic and social function of the enslaved as laborer and commodity, the centrality of blackness as a fungible and immutuable category of the enslaveable (non)human, and the massive global function of chattel slavery as the foundation of capitalism distinguishes this formation from other historical or regional structures of slavery, labor exploitation, trafficking, and racialiezd domination.  Furthermore, students will be challenged to confront the ways in which the de jure abolition of chattel slavery (in 1865 in the US and across the Americas in the 19th century) has been a historical, legal, and structural misnomer that does not encapture the ways in which societies, economies, and legal structures adapted to sustain rather than eradicate the global dependence on black subjection. Students will engage the prison industrial complex, abandonment & deindustrialization, policing, geographic containment, the consumption of blackness as popular culture, formations of neoliberalism, and antiblack state and state-sanctioned terror as contemporary formations of chattel slavery’s afterlives. The course engages the geographic contexts of the US, Jamaica, Haiti, and other parts of the Caribbean. Cross-listed as BLST 375This class counts as a methods class for the CTSJ major. 


4 units


Any 100-level CTSJ course or permission of instructor