COMPLIT 490 - Comparative Cultural Studies
Section: 003 The Aryan Race: Myth, Truth, and Fiction
Term: WN 2013
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
Theme, WorldLit
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Junior standing.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

  • What is race? Is race a biological fact, or is it a historical construct?
  • Does everyone belong to a race? How does one know?
  • If there is such a thing as “mixed race,” is there a “pure race”?
  • In what ways is the concept of race like, or unlike, the concept of “breed”?
  • How is diversity of race related to diversity in terms of culture, religion, language, and nationality?
  • How does the idea of race inform our sense of origins, origin of ourselves, our kin, origin of a people, of the human species, etc.?

These questions are indeed complex, often contentious, and difficult to resolve. In this team-taught course, we will explore these questions by focusing on a particularly controversial idea: the Aryan race.

Who first called themselves “Aryans,” and what did they mean by that? When and how did the notion of the Aryan become associated with a particular kind of white-ness? What is the relation identity and/or difference between “Aryan” on the one hand and “Caucasian,” “European,” “Western,” “Christian,” and “Judeo-Christian” on the other? Who today call themselves “Aryans,” and what do they mean by that?

The course material to be covered will include selected historical writings in anthropology, archeology, biblical studies, criminology, philology/linguistics, physiology, zoology, etc., a few 19th- and 20th-century novels, films, as well as some contemporary scholarly book chapters and articles.

COMPLIT 490 - Comparative Cultural Studies
Schedule Listing
002 (SEM)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
003 (LEC)
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:30PM
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:30PM
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