The themes of “race” and “ethnicity” are central to the current course offerings in the Program in American Culture. In this course, students will examine the specific ways that Arab Americans engage with “race.” It provides a historical overview of Arab Americans and “race” in relation to a series of other identity markers, such as class, gender, sexuality, religion, and nation. This course fits particularly within the Program in American Culture’s focus on transnational and diasporic considerations of “race.”
This course is an introductory survey to Arab-American studies. It will explore many questions such as the following in an interdisciplinary context, focusing on anthropological, historical, literary, and visual materials.
- What are the historical circumstances that have shaped Arab immigration to the U.S.?
- Where do Arab Americans "fit" within America’s racial classification system?
- What is anti-Arab racism?
- How has it shifted throughout Arab American history?
- What is the significance of gender and sexuality to anti-Arab racism?
- How did September 11th impact Arab American communities?
- What are the cultural forms that Arab immigrants have inherited from their homelands and reproduced in this country?
- In what ways are these cultural forms gendered?
- What is the relationship between socioeconomic class and cultural identity among Arab Americans?
- How have Arab Americans used the arts for cultural and political expression?
- What is the significance of religious affiliation to Arab American identity formation?
- How has U.S. foreign policy impacted Arab American histories and experiences?
This course brings a series of guest speakers and artists to interact with students, including calligraphers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, journalists, and community activists. It also includes a class field trip to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn. Through these sorts of experiences, students are introduced to important paradigms and modes of analysis in the humanities, which include learning how to read and analyze a wide range of cultural texts and materials and learning how to think critically about the relationship between history and culture, representations, and lived experiences.
Intended audience: First-year students and sophomores, plus any student interested in Arab-American studies. Course would meet the prerequisite requirement for the concentration in American Culture, or the "Transnationalism, Diaspora, and/or Empire," and "Women, Gender, and/or Sexuality" breadth requirement.
Course Requirements: Weekly assignments: 40% Two-page (typed, double spaced) response paper is due every two weeks that summarizes the main argument in the reading and offers a critical analysis. At the end of the paper, students must include two questions for class discussion. Active discussion in class: 10% Students must demonstrate that they have engaged in the readings, participate in group exercises, and meet with the instructor at least one time during office hours. Midterm essay based on required visit to Arab-American National Museum: 20% Final group project: 30%. Students will receive an individual and a group grade.
Class Format: 3 hours per week primarily in recitation format.