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Course Information

Instructor Info:Kimberly Chang
Office Extension x5668
TA Info:Melanie Drogseth
Devyn Manibo
Sola Stamm
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Wednesday Friday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107

This course explores two related concepts-hybridity and authenticity-that underlie contemporary conflicts over cultural identity and representation. While the hybrid is often charged with being inauthentic or fake, claims to authenticity are frequently criticized for being reactionary or exclusive. Such conflicts are increasingly common in a globalizing world where people's lives and livelihoods straddle multiple and often contending communities, where cultural identities are aggressively marketed for consumption, and where paradoxically the desire for authenticity-for home-may be greater than ever. When and why do we feel the need to claim an authentic self? What purposes do such claims serve? And how might we embrace our hybridities as a source of both personal and political identity? We will take the "mixed race" experience as our primary lens while interrogating the ways that racial categories intersect with other axis of power and difference in the making of selves, identities, and communities.

Distribution Requirement: Power, Community and Social Justice

Cumulative Skills: Multiple Cultural Perspectives, Writing and Research

Course Objectives:


1.     To explore ideas and experiences surrounding “mixed race” in the U.S. as these have simultaneously reinforced and challenged racial classification schemes, and to consider their liberatory potential for imagining new forms of social and political identity and community.

2.     To understand racial identity formation as both a lived experience and a political project that intersects with other social categories, including gender, sexuality, religion, and the nation-state.

3.     To learn from such experiences of living at the intersections about our own multiple and often contending identities, communities, and choices.

4.     To develop critical skills in reading and interpreting different kinds of texts—historical, philosophical, social theory, personal narrative—through which the subject of “race” has been rendered.

5.     To improve your analytical writing skills while experimenting with creative forms of expression about “mixed race” and other hybrid identities.

Evaluation Criteria:

(1) Attendance—A class is a community of learners.  Attendance is a measure of your commitment to this community and to your own learning.  With the exception of serious illness or family emergency, I will be on time and present at every class and expect you to do the same.  If you are unable to attend class due to illness or emergency, please let me know same day via e-mail or phone.  Students with more than three unexcused absences will not receive an evaluation.

(2) Readings/Discussion—This course is designed as a seminar in which your preparation for and participation in class is essential to the learning experience.  Please come to class having read the assigned readings for that day and prepared to discuss them.  As you are reading, try to get in the habit of writing down quotations along with questions or comments through which you can contribute to class discussions.  If you tend to be quiet in class, experiment with writing out your thoughts in advance and/or formulating one question/comment per class.  If you are talkative, be mindful of your own participation in relation to others.  Let’s all be respectful of the different kinds of experiences and knowledge we each bring into the classroom, listening and responding to one another in ways that create a safe productive space that deepens the learning for all.

During the second section of the course, students will work in groups of 3-4 to lead and facilitate discussion for one class.  This will involve doing a close reading of the assigned texts for that day and identifying key questions/themes for discussion.  Your group is encouraged to bring in examples from popular culture and social media that illustrate or speak to the particular intersectional identities and issues that you would like to explore with the class.

(3) Film Series—Beginning the second week of the semester, we will hold a Wednesday Night Pizza & Film Series (time and venue TBA) that will supplement our class readings and discussions.  You are expected to attend all film screenings.  If you have a conflict, please let me know in advance.  All films will be put on reserve at the library and you will be responsible for viewing any missed films on your own time.

(4) In-Class Writing—At regular intervals throughout the semester, we will write together in class in response to a writing prompt.  These short writing exercises are designed to allow you to turn off your internal editor, to find words and pose questions in response to the readings, films, and other course materials, to draw connections with your own experience and explore ideas about race, identity, and hybridity that may not yet be fully formed.  These pieces of writing may serve as a catalyst for one of the integrated essay assignments described below.

(5) Moodle Post & Response—Each student is required to contribute to an on-line discussion by both starting a thread and responding to the posts of others.  Over the course of the semester, you should initiate at least three discussions and respond to at least three posts by your classmates.  Your posts should directly engage with the readings, films, and subject matter of the course, since this is our shared frame of reference.  As in class discussions, all posts should be mindful of the different experiences we each bring to the discussion and strive to listen and learn from one another.

(6) Integrative Essays—Integrative writing works the creative tension between social theory and lived experience.  There will be three integrative writing assignments (5-7 pages each, see syllabus for due dates).  Each assignment will include a primary source that focuses on a particular experience of living at the intersections and negotiating identities, and secondary sources that help you to analyze and interpret that experience.  The goal of this kind of writing is not to indiscriminately apply theory to experience, but rather to use theory to open up an experience and question it, to allow experience to speak back to theory, to explore competing interpretations and meanings, and ultimately to deepen our understanding of identity formation as both a subjective experience and a social/political project.

(7) Performance Piece—To know is not enough.  Making art is a means of not only knowing, but creatively transforming the categorical imperatives that seek to narrowly define us.  Toward this end, each student will work through a creative form (written, visual, oral, mixed media) to explore questions about hybridity and authenticity that matter for your own intersectional identities and communities.  These creative pieces will be performed in class during the last two weeks of the semester.  Your performance piece should be accompanied by a short process paper (2-3 pages) that speaks to the specific questions, sources, and goals that informed your creative work.

(8) Course Portfolio—At the end of the semester, each student will submit a portfolio of all work completed for the course, including original papers with my comments (you should get into the habit of saving all original coursework for your Div I and II portfolios) and a self-evaluation of your own learning.

Additional Info:

Required Texts

The following required texts are available for purchase at the Hampshire College bookstore as well as on reserve at the library:

Asian American Literary Review: Special Issue on Mixed Race (Fall 2013).  Volume 4, Issue 2. (AALR)

Cheng, Vincent J. (2004). Inauthentic: The Anxiety over Culture and Identity. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. (Cheng)

Goodman, Alan H., Moses, Yolanda T., and Jones, Joseph L. (2012). Race: Are We So Different? American Anthropological Association. (GMJ)

Readings on Course Website

In addition to the above texts, there will be a number of required readings posted on the Moodle course website.  Go to and log in using your e-mail username and password.  Be sure to check the website regularly for class announcements or any changes to the syllabus.  Important: Please come to class with the readings in hand to discuss, either hard copy or you may use your computer to view them.

Note on use of computers in the classroom: In order to create an environment in which we are fully engaged with one another, I ask that you keep your computers closed except when consulting the readings.

Course Hours: In addition to class meetings, students are expected to attend weekly film screenings and to spend 6-8 hours per week on preparation and assignments outside of class.