AMCULT 311 - American Culture and the Humanities
Fall 2023, Section 003 - Can Literature Promote Social Justice?
Instruction Mode: Section 003 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: American Culture (AMCULT)
Department: LSA American Culture
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May be elected four times for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


Anti-racism reading lists. The 1619 Project. The celebration of novels written from the perspectives of underrepresented groups. Demands for change in the book industry, including publishing more diverse writers. Activist bookstores and libraries connecting with their neighborhoods through community reads programs and other events. All of these are examples of the belief in the power of literature to bring about social change.

Where does the belief in literature as an agent of social and political change come from? Is it really possible for long-term, structural change to happen because people read books about the history of racism in the US? How does seeing the world through the experiences of people unlike oneself create change? Likewise, is equity achieved through books that allow readers from diverse backgrounds and abilities see themselves in stories? How would we even measure those changes? What is the line between believing in the power of books and seeing some books as too dangerous to be part of a curriculum?

This class will explore these questions and others connected to the belief in literature’s ability to create social change. We will read books that have been held up as examples of “required reading,” such as Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist, Louise Erdrich’s The Night Watchman, and Mira Jacob’s graphic memoir Good Talk. We will take a historical and cultural view of the belief in the power of reading to create change through reading lists, community reads, changes in the publishing industry, bibliotherapy, activist bookstores, libraries, and the politicization of the curriculum.

Course Requirements:

Weekly readings, reflections on the readings, a research project, and leading class discussion on a topic of your choice

Intended Audience:

This course is ideal for anyone interested in reading and talking about the idea of literature as a vehicle for social change.


AMCULT 311 - American Culture and the Humanities
Schedule Listing
002 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
Note: 002: Sport in American Culture
003 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
Note: 003: Can literature promote social justice?
007 (LEC)
 In Person
Tu 10:00AM - 1:00PM
Tu 10:00AM - 1:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
Note: 007: Community Empowerment Through the Arts

Textbooks/Other Materials

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