How Did We Get Here? From Slavery to #MeToo (Gen Ed 1041)



How can the resistance strategies of women from slavery through today help us critically examine oour current moment from identity and power to racism and law?


Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

Linda Chavers

Everything we think we know is wrong, right? We get our news through a wide variety of mediums from Twitter to FOX News. The #MeToo movement as we know it came to national fame from a Twitter thread. Yet as soon as it went “viral” we learned that #MeToo already existed: as a nonprofit by a Black woman, Tarana Burke. What might this mean about other popular tropes and trends in our society? This interdisciplinary seminar takes popular tropes from our everyday language and fabrics and connects them to marginalized texts from centuries ago. Would you understand the #MeToo era better if you’d read the words of Harriet Jacobs from 1863? What are we laughing at when SNL’s Leslie Jones jokes that she’d be the most useful woman in antebellum America? What about those ads connecting everyone to presidents? This course allows you to perform the necessary cultural investigations in order to engage in the timely critical discourses of and by Black American women from the prescient testimonials of Anita Hill to Senator Kamala Harris’s critiques of white liberalism.

You will leave this course with a more informed understanding of American slavery as it relates to our current world: to perform close readings of literary and visual texts from written narrative to 20-second commercials, to identify coda in popular language and thus be better equipped to recognize acts such as dog-whistling. This course will prepare you to disrupt your notions of history, slavery and feminism taking the work you’ll do in a single semester into a lifetime of critical thinking about our everyday language.