Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack: Critical Whiteness Studies

This course introduces students to Critical Whiteness Studies, the scholarly interrogation of the social construction of whiteness: how whiteness converges with gender, socioeconomic status, and other social markers, to create and maintain fundamental sources of societal stratification. The course examines the historical and contemporary social, cultural, and political origins of and resistance to white supremacy and white privilege, particularly in the United States. Students will consider the economic and political forces responsible for the construction and maintenance of whiteness, and will critique the multiple axes of race, gender and class to understand the various mechanisms of privilege. May meet either the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures or Social Inequality requirement. (Not offered 2022-23).

Prerequisite: Feminist & Gender Studies 110, Feminist & Gender Studies 200, or consent of instructor).

1 unit

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Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack: Critical Whiteness Studies teaches students how to conduct transdisciplinary studies of whiteness as a historical, social, cultural, and political racialized category with theoretical and material implications for identity and subjectivity formation, and micro and macro-level interactions between and among people and institutions.
Protesters outside Central high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1959. Photograph: Granger/REX/Shutterstock
Protesters outside Central high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1959. Photograph: Granger/REX/Shutterstock
This course teaches students how to conduct transdisciplinary studies of whiteness as a historical, social, cultural, and political racialized category with theoretical and material implications for identity and subjectivity formation, and micro and macro-level interactions between and among people and institutions. Students also examine the relationship between whiteness and gender, sexuality, class, nation, and other markers, especially considering the historical and contemporary origins and manifestations of, as well as resistance to, white supremacy and privilege, especially in the United States.
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