Welcome to this class!
In this class, we will discuss who “We, the People” could be,
especially in times of (perceived) threat or uncertainty. Under such
circumstances, in many nations, regions, or other groups of people, the
question of who belongs — and who doesn’t — is highly discussed or
becomes meaningful in different ways. In Germany, for example, one might
discuss who is included in exclamations of “Wir sind das Volk!” or
other references to a “we” that, by implication, distinguishes itself
from a “them,” an “other.” In the USA, “We, the People” is the beginning
of the Preamble to the Constitution (1789), but who is the “we” here?
For example the late US political scientist Samuel Huntington asked in
his 2004 publication Who Are We? And, we might ask, who (gets to) decide(s)? Journalist Jeff Chang, for example, adds a different perspective in his book Who We Be. The Colorization of America
(2014). And how do convictions, language, and/or power come into play
when a potential “we” (or “them”) is constructed or discussed?
In this class, the “we” alluded to above includes
everyone who is ready to engage with/discuss these questions. We will
particularly focus on the 20th and 21st century, and we will discuss a
variety of examples of texts and other media/cultural products from
North America, but also take a glimpse at other Anglophone parts of the
world like Great Britain and South Africa. If you are planning to be a
teacher: Some of our material may also be used in school [early
childhood to tertiary education].
If you would like to get a head start with your readings: In this
class, we will discuss the following books, available e.g. from our
university’s library, local bookstores like Heinrich Heine Buchhandlung at Viehofer Platz, or your preferred bookstore:
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale.
Beatty, Paul. The Sellout.
Lewis, Sinclair. It Can’t Happen Here.
Urrea, Luis Alberto. Into the Beautiful North.
Other material that we may use for our discussion, including the
following examples (intended to give you an idea of what we might focus
on), will be made available for you:
Borden, Louise. America Is. [Children’s Book]
Catrow, David. We the Kids. [Children’s Book]
Chang, Jeff. from Who We Be. The Colorization of America.
Eggers, Dave. from The Circle.
Gordimer, Nadine. “Once Upon a Time.”
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. “My People.” [Teen/Young Adult Short Story]
Huntington, Samuel. from Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity./America’s Great Debate.
Kimmel, Michael. from Angry White Men.
Mahdawi, Arwa. “A Personal Guide to Extreme Vetting: How
to Distinguish an Acceptable Arab from a Terrorist in 6 Easy Steps.”
Robertson, David A., and Julie Flett. When We Were Alone. [Children’s Book]
Russel Hochschild, Arlie. from Strangers in their Own Land.
Wildt, Michael. from Volk, Volksgemeinschaft, AfD.
On our moodle page, you may find a schedule and further information from sometime early October onwards.