In this course, we will discuss, view, and read about representations of American culture and American identity – race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, and citizenship – in film and media. This course introduces students to various theoretical and analytic frameworks used to conceptualize and untangle representations of American culture and American identity, spanning the twentieth century and extending into the twenty-first century and our contemporary moment. Students will engage in critical viewing, writing, and discussion in order to think more deeply about how representations both reflect, and construct, our understandings of culture, ourselves, and others.
Dis/ability encompasses and speaks to identity, health, illness, impairment, addiction, affliction, and survival. Examining theories and histories from disability studies, we will explore how cultures of care and cure in the U.S. advance ability or able-bodiedness as a norm. In this course, we will consider understandings and framings of disability and ability in the U.S., histories of medical discrimination, health activisms advocating for more equitable care, disability justice, and care interventions offered by harm reduction and mutual aid approaches.