POLS 395: “WHITENESS AND U.S. POLITICS”
T 1:10 PM to 4:10 PM
Murray Hall, Room 114
Professor Alvin B.Tillery, Jr.
Office: Hickman Hall 611 (Douglass Campus).
Office Hours: Wednesday 2:30-3:30 PM (Hickman Hall 611) by appointment.
I. COURSE OVERVIEW
This course introduces students to the dynamics of the social and historical construction
of race and ethnicity in American political life. Using the social category “white,” the
course explores the following questions: What is the history of race in American political
life? How did American racial constructs come into existence? How has the existence of
America’s system of racial classification shaped our broader national identity? How does
race link up with other identities animating political actions like gender and class? What
role do American political institutions—the Congress, presidency, judiciary, state and
local governments, etc.—play in constructing and maintaining racial categories? Can we
use these institutions to overcome racial boundaries? In other words, is a “post-racial”
society ever possible?
All readings on the syllabus are required. The following books are available for purchase
at the Rutgers University Bookstore:
(1) Matthew Frye Jacobson,
Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants
and the Alchemy of Race
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998);
(2) Thomas A. Guglielmo,
White on Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in
(London: Oxford University Press, 2003);
(3) Stephen Erie,
Rainbow’s End: Irish Americans and the Dilemmas of Urban
Machine Politics, 1840-1985
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988);
(4) Ira Katznelson,
When Affirmative Action was White: An Untold Story of Racial
Inequality in America
(New York: W.W. Norton Press, 2005);
(5) Grace Elizabeth Hale,
(New York: Random House, 1999);
(6) Michael Patrick McDonald,
All Souls: A Family Story for Southie
Random House, 2000).