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First-Year Writing Seminar: American Paranoia: Community and the Fear of "Others"

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number FIRST-UG431
Section 001
Instructor Glenn Kurtz
Days MW
Time 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


Communists, aliens, terrorists: Lurking just out of sight—or perhaps, maddeningly, already  inside  us—a dangerous enemy is plotting our downfall. From Colonial era encounters with Native Americans, to the Salem witch trials, the specter of slavery (and a slave revolt), the Red scares of the 1920s and 1950s, to the terrorist threat of today, American national identity has often been defined in opposition to a perceived threat. Who are  they ? What do they want, how do we recognize them, how do we stop them? And who, in this conflict, are  we ? Reading texts from Cotton Mather, Frederick Douglass, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Walt Whitman, and Gish Jen, among others, and viewing films and TV, for example, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “The X-Files,” and “Homeland,” we analyze the national psyche as it confronts (or imagines) moral corruption, spiritual possession, political subversion, subliminal brainwashing, and physical abduction.


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Course Type

First-Year Program: Writing Seminars (FIRST-UG)