LIAM EASLEY, TRUMPET ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
A new course, Race and Ethnicity in U.S. Culture, will find itself on the Wartburg curriculum in Fall 2021 along with a rebranding of the Department of English and Modern Languages, which will be called the Department of Languages, Literature and Culture Studies.
Dr. Joyce Boss, professor of English and co-director for the multicultural and diversity studies, proposed the new course idea as an addition to the intercultural studies minor. She felt that the many aspects of U.S. culture needed to be explored in a narrowed-down way, dissecting it within one, organized class.
The course itself will cover a plethora of cultural topics, including the origins of U.S. culture, the process of assimilation being a core foundation to U.S. culture and what U.S. culture is in general. Most importantly, it will discuss the impact race and ethnicity have had on our portrayal of culture, according to Boss.
“One of the things we’ll be exploring in the course is what U.S. culture means,” Boss said. “So, is it one culture that has a lot of different facets and intersectionalities? Do we use ‘culture’ in the plural to acknowledge that there are very different cultural identities and affinities that people within the U.S. would claim and also are claimed for them?”
Boss will be utilizing literature, memoirs, poetry and film among other media produced by artists from the U.S. to generate a better understanding of the role culture plays in the U.S. and how it came to be. At the end of the course, Boss said she hopes students will understand how “race and ethnicity have been integral to the experience of people of the United States from the get-go.”
“I’m looking specifically at the U.S. as a nation state,” Boss said, “with a particular history that involves interactions and conflicts and the evolution of demographics that go into a larger sense of who we are, if that can be answered.”
With so many factors to consider, the course seems like an ambitious undertaking. Boss said she feels very ready to explore what she calls “an ongoing experiment” with a group of students.
“It’s an amazing story,” Boss said. “It’s a heartbreaking story, it’s an uplifting story, it’s a devastating story. … It’s a story that can cause a lot of anger but also inspiration, and I want to honor and do justice to all of that.”
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