Education

College Offers ‘Cultural Dogs’ And ‘American Whiteness’ Classes

Grinnell College in Iowa is set to offer classes on “American Whiteness” and “Dogs, Identities, & Culture,” according to its fall 2017 course catalogue.

Feminist ethnographer and professor Karla Erickson will teach “American Whiteness,” aimed at examining “whiteness as a specific racial formation with a distinct history, proactive and defensive politics, and institutional and personal investments,” according to the course catalog. The class will analyze the “advantages that accrue to whiteness, the internal diversity of the category, and the continuous challenges to whiteness, both conceptual and material,” as well as capture and reproduce cycles of whiteness.

Erickson declined to release the 2017 course syllabus, but indicated that the spring 2015 syllabus is the same, according to Campus Reform.

“Whiteness is, among much else, a very bad idea … This course is meant to facilitate a personal journey towards a better understanding of how whiteness functions in a racist nation,” the 2015 syllabus read. The reading list included “Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness” and “The Case for Reparations,” among other texts.

Students will also have the option of taking “Dogs, Identities, & Culture.” The course will “investigate how categories such as race, class, gender, disability, and sexuality speak to dog cultures and cultural dogs,” per its description.

“We will discuss human-dog relationships, histories, and material practices … and will analyze visual and narrative dog representations,” the description adds.

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