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

Semester and Year FA 2018
Course Number FIRST-UG114
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.


Devils, Communists, aliens, terrorists: Lurking just out of sight—or perhaps, maddeningly, already  inside  us—a ruthless enemy is plotting our downfall. From the Puritan’s “Angry God,” to the Salem witch trials, the specter of slavery (and a slave revolt), the Red scares of the 1920s and 1950s, to threats of terrorist cells, biological and computer viruses, secret cabals and the “deep state,” American national identity has often been defined in opposition to a perceived threat by an all-powerful, yet invisible enemy. 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 , this class analyzes the national psyche as it confronts (or imagines) moral corruption, spiritual possession, political subversion, subliminal brainwashing, physical abduction, and the fear of fear itself.


All Syllabi

Course Type

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