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Fugitive Perspectives on Education and Civil Society
AFAM 358
Spring 2025
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: EDST 358

In 1946, the African American novelist Ann Petry imagined what a white schoolteacher might think about working with black students in Harlem, New York: "Working in this school was like being in a jungle. It was filled with the smell of the jungle, she thought: tainted food, rank, unwashed bodies." Petry had herself worked in Harlem schools. She also held credentials from well-heeled white schools in Connecticut. Despite her own academic success, she questioned the inherent value of schools that regarded black children as if they were untamed savages. Challenging prevailing narratives of excellence and achievement, this course examines fugitive perspectives of black, Indigenous, LBGTQ, and poor folks who resisted compulsory schooling and avoided conscription into so-called civilized society. If, as historian Michael B. Katz has argued, US schools "are imperial institutions designed to civilize the natives; they exist to do something to poor children, especially, now, children who are black or brown," then why should any self-respecting black or brown child endure such schooling? What might so-called truants, illiterates, failures, burnouts, dropouts, and delinquents teach us about education and civil society? The history of education, however, has largely been interpreted from a biased perspective--namely, those who have been successfully schooled. We will therefore search for contrary voices in fragments of oral culture, ranging from slave narratives to folktales and recorded music. Contemporary scholarship will inform our analysis. Interdisciplinary scholars such as James Scott, Eric Hobsbawm, Tera Hunter, Saidiya Hartman, Lisa Brooks, and Audra Simpson will illustrate how to read against the grain and unearth hidden transcripts from classic authors such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, Anna Julia Cooper, and Gertrude Simmons Bonin.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA AFAM
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AFAM-MN)(AFAM)(EDST-MN)(EDST)
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on JUL-18-2024
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