The Craft of Writing
R1A-004 | CCN: 26504
Instructor: Kel Montalvo & Michelle Velasquez-Potts
T/TH 5:00 – 6:30 PM, Dwinelle 88 ///
In this course we will examine the meaning, formation, and rhetoric of borders–both material/geographic and figurative/conceptual. Throughout the semester, “borders” will serve as a topos–a theme or placeholder–for our investigations into the constitution of sovereignty and territory, the determination of the body, and Western definitions of the human. We will investigate how borders, boundaries, and barriers work to allocate value by awarding things, people, and phenomena their “proper place” in the social order. We’ll pay specific attention to how the crossing of borders, the contamination of separate spheres, and the breaching of barriers of containment offer a powerful critique of our normative assumptions about the world.
The class is divided into three units, each thematically organized around a set of critical concepts: Unit 1) Geographies of Sovereignty; Unit 2) Topographies of the Body; Unit 3) Ecologies of the (non-)Human. The first unit focuses on the role settler colonialism has played in not only the construction of borders, but the displacement of certain bodies from such territories. The second unit looks at the boundaries between inside and outside in the constitution of the body, and investigates philosophical conceptions of what a body is and what it can do. Finally, the third unit considers the divide between the human and the non-human, interrogating how this boundary serves as the condition of possibility and axis of value for Western regimes of knowledge and truth. Accordingly, we will analyze how attempts to define the human in opposition to its other, whether animal, machine, or inorganic life, produce a violent hierarchy of values that orders the social. Course readings will include authors and theorists such as Michel Foucault, Angela Davis, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Sigmund Freud.