2023-2024 Catalog

FYS 3 Linguistic Resilience in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the world. At the same time, it is also known as a linguistic graveyard, absorbing immigrants by the millions and extinguishing their home languages within a few generations. The loss of home languages is due in part to ideologies associating the English language with whiteness, power, and “American” identity. It is within this context, acknowledging the socio-political and institutional barriers to speaking a non-English language in the United States, that students in this course will explore how maintaining a home (or heritage) language, and indeed, speaking any non-English language in the United States is an act of political resistance. This course will focus on the speakers of non-English languages who are attempting to resist the barriers described above and maintain their languages at the individual, community, and institutional levels. We will focus on the linguistic resilience and cultural practices of speakers of Spanish, Mandarin, and indigenous American languages in Los Angeles and throughout the country, via scholarly readings, documentaries, and case studies, as well as through field trips and guest lectures with members of these communities. This course will ask students to pose questions about the connection between one’s identity and the language one speaks. We will examine our experiences with our own language(s), confront our own beliefs, and aim to understand the beliefs and experiences of others. Finally, near the end of the course, students will engage in a project advocating for social justice in Los Angeles or their home communities.

This course is part of the Humanities for Just Communities curriculum. Open only to first year frosh.


4 units