Studies of the 20th Century

History, Culture, and Politics of the 1960s
T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm (Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst RU-JBMDL Hybrid Section)*
Professor Clemis
*First 7 weeks Off campus Hybrid Section – Some Meetings Online Course meets 50% In-Class/50% Online

The 1960s is a decade that still looms large in the American psyche. From the war in Vietnam to the rise of the counterculture movement to the struggle for social justice and civil rights, the period continues to capture the public’s imagination as a period of immense political, social, and cultural tumult. This class examines the “long” 1960s and situates this pivotal period within the larger context of post-war America, a time when Americans wrestled with issues of profound national importance and when American values and the American way of life were not only severely challenged – both at home and abroad – but subject to sweeping transformation. This course will explore this volatile and highly important period predominantly through the lens of American politics, society, and culture. However, it will situate the profound changes in America’s political, social, and cultural landscapes within the context of a wider world, touching upon the nation’s role as a global superpower and exploring issues related to Cold War diplomacy and national security. 

Studies of Cultural Diversity

Modern Ethnic Literature
T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm (Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst RU-JBMDL Hybrid Section)*
Professor Drucker
*Second 7 weeks Off campus Online Course meets 50% In-Class/50% Online

According to the most famous first-person account of slavery in the eighteenth century, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (1789), many Africans’ first encounter with Europeans may have went something like this: “The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast was the sea, and a slave ship. … I was now persuaded that I gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me. Their complexions too differing so much from ours, their long hair, and the language they spoke, which was very different from any I had ever heard, united to confirm me in this belief” (55). As suggested by Equiano, alien environments, technology, language, and body forms are nothing new to black experience and writing. Far from the exception to the rule, an encounter with the fantastic might be one of the foundational tropes of black expression in the New World.

Mindful of such important historical precedents, this course is an exploration of science fiction (broadly conceived) produced by people of African descent in the twentieth and twenty first centuries. Organized around units that derive from fairly established sci-fi concerns – time travel, dystopia, and space adventure, for example – it surveys how a speculative aesthetic has animated black cultural production. Though the course’s main archive will be written texts, it will also gesture towards the wider impact of the fanciful in such mediums as film, music, and clothing.