Women of Color Impacting Politics (WIP) Syllabus Spring 2021

Women of Color Impacting Politics 

Prof. Ruth O’Brien

Wed. 6:30 to 8:30 PM seminar

Office Hour: Wed. 5:00-6:00 PM and by appointment


Rev. Jan. 31, 2021, 6:22 PM (preliminary — will be revised closer to term)

Ruth O’Brien (G/AP)

Women of Color Impacting Politics 

P SC 79003 – 3 credits crosslist with AFCP 73100 & WSCP 81000

Course Description: This course specifically tracks the roles that women with intersectional identities have played in American politics, as well as women who are public intellectuals and heretical leaders in contemporary political thought. The course is twofold: First, it traces how women have never before had such a large impact in American politics — women of color, that is, or more precisely, women who have an additional identity besides that of gender. The course studies the impact women have had on American politics since Hillary Clinton ran for and lost the Democratic nomination in 2008.  Second, this course not only studies women of color in American politics but also focuses on the intellectual impact of women with intersectional identities — such as women who are Black, multiracial, and multiethnic (e.g. LatinX), or women with disabilities — who have helped shape contemporary political thought not just under deliberative or participatory democracies, as found in Europe (such as Germany or France) or the Commonwealth nations (such as New Zealand), but also in reinventing what it means to lead in electoral politics. To be sure, an ethic of care exists within many public policies that involve legal rights and human rights that have been formed as a result of social movements such as #BLM, LGBTQI, and disability rights. But this course goes further than politics and public policy to explore how the heretical political thought of bell hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, and the Combahee River Collective has also shaped a new notion of leadership that undermines traditional iterations of masculine notions about leading nation-states.

Learning Goals  

  1. Learn about social movements and public opinion in preparation for First Examination. Almost all of the readings assigned by the American Politics subfield are included on the syllabus.
  2. Learn how to write a research paper that could be expanded into a Second Examination Proposal or an M.A. thesis.
  3. Familiarize with basics of American governance in preparation for teaching American Politics 101 at the undergraduate level, as this course covers American political thought, social movements, political parties, party polarization, and American Political Development, as well as basic principles of governance such as the separation of powers, federalism, sectionalism, and judicial review.
  4. Learn how to write a proposal for a larger project.

Remote Learning

1.  All classes will be conducted at the scheduled time of Wed. 6:30 to 8:30 PM EST over my CUNY1st Zoom.  Access to my office hour is found from the left tab of Collaborate on BB.  

Grading Assessment & Final Grading  

1. Complete assigned readings before class. Before jdh-each seminar meets, students turn in an outline of the reading or reflections about the readings, either via email or as a blog on CUNY Academic Commons, if this is set up by class consensus.  This should be one to two pages.  Please send this to my email: robrien@gc.cuny.edu  

2. Prospectus for final project.  Please turn in a prospectus of approximately two to three pages describing your final project.
3. Paper: Turn in 10- to 12-page essay, not including endnotes and bibliography.  You will give a 10-20 minute presentation over Zoom.

Weight: Participation paired with weekly outlines or reflection papers = 35%; Prospectus = 15%; Final Paper and Presentation = 50%

Assignments: All assignments must be completed, and those turned in late will be penalized.

Absences: More than two absences will result in having points deducted from your participation grade.

Incompletes: Incompletes are a privilege, not a right. If you are having trouble completing the course requirements, you must inform me well before the end of the semester if you expect to ask for an incomplete. 

Privacy: No taping or recording of any kind other than note taking is permitted without my permission in writing as well as permission from all participants at each session.  Printed hard-copy notes in terms of reflections and outlines sharing are encouraged for peer learning. Student privacy will be protected.

Syllabus Changes: The instructor reserves the right to revise this syllabus when and where necessary. Revisions will be announced and posted on Blackboard. The assignments stay the same.

Major Written Assignments:

1. Weekly brief reflections (1-2 pp.) or outline on the readings, submitted before each class meets.

2. Prospectus outlining your final paper, due in the 6th week.

3. A final paper due on the day of the final, that may take one of the following forms: •1) A historiography or “literature review” that reflects questions from the First Examination in American Politics. •2) A research paper according to the expectations of one’s discipline or of the course one is registered for (political science or women’s studies, etc.)  •3) A proposal for a more substantial research project. Consult with me about expectations according to disciplinary specificities.

 Books required for purchase are:

  1. Rachel Louise Snyder, No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know about Domestic Violence Can Kill Us (New York: Scribe Publ., 2019)
  2. Isabel Wilkerson, Caste (New York: Random House, 2020)

All articles are avail in Project Muse unless specified

Week by Week Reading

^Part I. Violence

Week 2. Violence — A Common Denominator

+ Reading: Alison Phipps, “Every Woman Knows a Weinstein”: Political Whiteness and White Woundedness in #MeToo and Public Feminisms around Sexual Violence.” Feminist Formations 31, no. 2 (2019): 1-25; S. Taylor, “The Body Is Not an Apology” (2013, March), https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=B7lKPdh_y-8); Rachel Louise Snyder, No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know about Domestic Violence Can Kill Us, Preface, pp. 107-29; 211-30; 233-59; Isabel Wilkerson, Caste, Preface, p. 1-53

Recommended: Alison Phipps, “The fight against sexual violence,” Soundings: A journal of politics and culture 71, no. 71 (2019): 62-74; Catherine Chaput, “The Body as a Site of Material-Symbolic Struggle: Toward a Marxist New Materialism,” Philosophy & Rhetoric 53, no. 1 (2020): 89-103; Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross, A Black Women’s History of the United States (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2020); Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street, Back Women, Rape and Resistance, a New History of the Civil Rights Movement From Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power, prologue or pp. xv-xxii; Karen Tei Yamashita, Letters to Memory (Coffee House Press, 2017); Beth E. Richie, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation (New York: New York University Press, 2012). Sarah Deer, The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015); Roxane Gay, Ed. Not that Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture (New York: Harper Perennial, 2018);  Last Days at Hot Slit: The Radical Feminism of Andrea Dworkin, ed. Johanna Fateman and Amy Scholder (Semiotexte, 2019); Laura Bates. Everyday Sexism (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2016). 

Recommended Documentaries:

Lorena, domestic violence

OJ Simpson: Made In America, domestic violence

Out in the Night, LGBTQ hate violence

Free CeCe, 2016, Trans hate violence

Two Spirits, hate-murder against Navajo nadle child and Indigenous two spirit people.

NO! Black women speak out against rape

The Hunting Ground, (student experience of and activism against campus rape

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the US Gymnastics Scandal, rapist Olympic Dr. Larry Nassar, sexual abuse hiding in plain sight 

Surviving R. Kelly (celebrity sex abuse, also hiding in plain sight

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (Ted Bundy) 

Finding Dawn (feminicide against Native women in Canada)

The Invisible War (military sexual assault).

This is How They See US (on the Central Park Exonerated, when boys of color were falsely accused and convicted of the rape of a white and upper class jogger. 

Saving Face, 2011 (women victimized in acid attacks in Pakistan)

Facts for blogs:

UN Women, Facts and Figures about Violence against women, https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures;  

HRC violence against trans women; 


16 ways health care workers can stop gender based violence, https://www.intrahealth.org/vital/16-ways-health-workers-can-help-stop-gender-based-violence

“A Common Trait Among Mass Killers: Hatred of Women,” New York Times, Aug. 10, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/10/us/mass-shootings-misogyny-dayton.html

Sexual Violence against Women with Disabilities, https://now.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Disabled-Women-Sexual-Violence-4.pdf


Assault Allegations against Donald Trump Recapped, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/assault-allegations-donald-trump-recapped

Watch in class: Short film: “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” website for the project — http://www.tlynnfaz.com/Stop-Telling-Women-to-Smile

6 minute film, http://stoptellingwomentosmile.com/

^Part II. 19th Amendment Patriarchal Paradox

+Week 3-4 History of Women, Part 1 – Colonies- Founding- (Un)Participatory Democracy

+Reading: Carole Shammas, “Household Government in Comparative Perspective,” William and Mary Quarterly 52 (Jan. 1995), 104-45; Jan Ellen Lewis, “What Happened to the Three Fifths Clause: The Relationship Between Women and Slaves in Constitutional Thought, 1787-1866,” Journal of the Early Republic 37 (Spring 2017), 1-46; John L. Brooke, “Patriarchal Magistrates, Associated Improvers, and Monitoring Militias: Visions of Self-Government in the Early American Republic, 1760-1840,” in Peter Thompson and Peter S. Onuf, eds., State and Citizen: British America and the Early United States (UP of Virginia, 2013), 178-217; Laura Edwards, “The Legal World of Elizabeth Bagby’s Commonplace Book: Federalism, Women, and Governance,” Journal of the Civil War Era 9 (Dec. 2019), 504-23

Recommended: Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross, A Black Women’s History of the United States (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2020); Barbara Fields, “Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States” (1990/2011) in New Left Review (1990); Alvin B. Tillery, Jr., “Tocqueville as Critical Race Theorist: Whiteness as Property, Interest Convergence, and the Limits of Jacksonian Democracy,” Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 4 (Dec., 2009), 639-52; Gregory Ablavsky, “The Savage Constitution,” Duke Law Journal 63 (June 2014), 999-1089; Nancy Isenberg, “Taking Out the Trash: Waste People in the New World” and “John Locke’s Lubberland: The Settlements of Carolina and Georgia,” Chp. 1 & 2 of White Trash: The Four-Hundred-Year History of Class in America (Viking, 2016), 18-63; Rosemarie Zagarri, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (2009); Barbara Fields and Karen Fields, Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life; Honor Sachs, Home Rule: Households, Manhood, and National Expansion on the Eighteenth-Century Kentucky Frontier (Yale UP, 2015), Introduction and Chp. 5 (pp. 1-12, 120-43)

+Week 5 Progressive White Patriarchal Do-Gooders

+Reading: Priscilla Yamin,“The Search for Marital Order: Civic Membership and the Politics of Marriage in the Progressive Era,” Polity 41, No. 1 (Jan., 2009): 86-112; Julie Novkov, “Bringing the States Back In: Understanding Legal Subordination and Identity through Political Development,” Polity, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Jan., 2008), pp. 24-48; Alexander Sanger “Eugenics, Race, and Margaret Sanger Revisited: Reproductive Freedom for All?” Hypatia 22 (2007): 210-17; Yvonne Pitts,  “Disability, Scientific Authority, and Women’s Political Participation at the Turn of the Twentieth-Century United States,” Journal of Women’s History, 24 (2012): 37-61; Katherine Boo, “Marriage Cure,” https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2003/08/18/the-marriage-cure (find on Nexus)

Recommended: Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross, A Black Women’s History of the United States (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2020); Dana Frank, “White Working-Class Women and the Race Question.” International Labor and Working-Class History 54 (1998): 80–102; Elizabeth Gillespie McRae, Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy (Oxford University Press), chp. 7; David F. Ericson, “The United States Military, State Development, and Slavery in the Early Republic,” Studies in American Political Development 31, no. 1 (2017): 130–48; Catherine Carstairs, “Defining Whiteness: Race, Class, and Gender Perspectives in North American History,” International Labor and Working-Class History 60 (2001): 203–6. 

+ Week 6 Neoliberal Feminism & Freedom, Resistance or Oppression?

Catherine Rottenberg, The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism, Intro, Chp. 1, 2;  Gloria Anzaldua, “This Bridge Called My Back” in This Bridge Called My Back: The Gloria Anzaldua Reader (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), The Bridge Poem; Diane L. Fowlkes, “Moving from Feminist Identity Politics to Coalition Politics through a Feminist Materialist Standpoint of Intersubjectivity in Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.” Hypatia 12, no. 2 (1997): 105-24; Anne-Marie Slaughter Revival and Renewal (The Public Square Princeton University Press, 2021) manuscript (pending permission) 

+Week 7 Black Feminism & Education as Liberation

Reading: Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment (Routledge: 1990, 2000, 2008), chp 1; Adrienne Rich, Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972  (New York, NY:W.W. Norton 1973), 22-24; Audre Lorde, Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference. In Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1984), 114-23; bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress (New York: Routledge, 1993), chp. 1

+Week 8 Action, Reaction, Backlash – Proxies & Powers

Reading: Amy Dru Stanley, “The Sovereign Market and Sex Difference: Human Rights in America” in Sven Beckert and Christine Desan, American Capitalism: New Histories (New York: Columbia UP, 2018), 140-69; Julie Novkov, “Mobilizing Liberalism in Defense of Racism,” The Good Society Vol. 15, No. 1 (2007): 30-39; Lenka Bustikovav and Cristina Corduneanu-Huci. “Patronage, Trust, and State Capacity: The Historical Trajectories of Clientelism,” World Politics 69, no. 2 (2017): 277-326 ; Elizabeth Gillespie McRae

Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy, (New York: Oxford University Press), chp. 8.

Recommended: Natalie G. Adams and James H. Adams, “‘Hell No, We Won’t Go’: Protest and Resistance to School Desegregation,” in Just Trying to Have School: The Struggle for Desegregation in Mississippi, 167-87 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2018); Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy, chp. 8; Daniel Martinez Hosang, “The Changing Valence of White Racial Innocence: Black- Brown Unity in the 1970s Los Angeles School Desegregation Struggles,” in Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition, edited by Kun Josh and Pulido Laura, 115-42 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004)

^Part. III. Intellectual impact of women with intersectional identities creating intersectional struggles 

+Week 9. Women of Color as Public Intellectuals, Part 1 Sojourner Truth Onward: 1860s-Combahee River Collective 1970s

Reading: Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a Woman?” http://www.feminist.com/resources/ artspeech/gen- wom /sojour.htm; Kay Siebler, “Far from the Truth: Teaching the Politics of Sojourner Truth’s ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’” Pedagogy Vol. 10; The Combahee River Collective, Introduction; “A Black Feminist Statement,” CRC Women’s Studies Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 3/4 (Fall/Winter 2014): 271-280; https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/combahee-river-collective-statement-1977/; Kristen A. Kolenz, Krista L. Benson, Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Leslie Bow, et. al. “Combahee River Collective Statement: A Fortieth  Anniversary Retrospective,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 38, no. 3 (2017): 164-89; Dilar Dirik, “Women’s Internationalism against Global Patriarchy”; “The Combahee River Collective: A Black Feminist Statement.” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 42, no. 3 (2014): 271- 280; CRC Manifesto (April 1973, On Google Scholar)

+Week 10. WIC as PI, Part 3: 1990s
Reading:  Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review (6) (1991): 1241-1299; Ruth O’Brien, Bodies in Revolt, chp. 1; Audre Lorde, “Poetry is Not a Luxury,” http://sites.utexas.edu/lsjcs/files/2017/07/Lorde-Poetry-Is-Not-a-Luxury.pdf  https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Broadview_Anthology_of_Expository_Pr/cwFbDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=audre+lorde+poetry&pg=PA217&printsec=frontcover; Kundai Chirindo, “Paradigmatic and Syntagmatic Approaches to the Obama Presidency,” Rhetoric and Public Affairs 19 No. 3 (2016): 491 

Recommended: Audre Lorde, Interview https://www.google.com/books/edition/Conversations_with_Audre_Lorde/5WE-bAYX0LMC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Audre+Lorde&pg=PR7&printsec=frontcover ; Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich. “An Interview with Audre Lorde.” SIGNS 6, no. 4 (1981): 713-36; John Pittman, African-American Perspectives and Philosophical Traditions (Routledge, 1996); Carol A. Horton. Race and the Making of American Liberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005): Introduction. Mary Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001); Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and American Democracy (New York: Harper & Row, 1944), Introduction Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross, A Black Women’s History of the United States (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2020) Natalie G. Adams, and James H. Adams. “ ‘Hell No, We Won’t Go’: Protest and Resistance to School Desegregation,” in Just Trying to Have School: The Struggle for Desegregation in Mississippi, 167-87 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2018); Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy, chp. 7 or 8; Daniel Martinez Hosang, “The Changing Valence of White Racial Innocence: Black- Brown Unity in the 1970s Los Angeles School Desegregation Struggles,” in Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition, edited by Kun Josh and Pulido Laura, 115-42 (University of California Press, 2014)

+Class 11 Intersections and 

Reading: Angela Y. Davis, “The Past, Present, and Future of Assata’s Message,” Women’s Studies Quarterly Vol. 46 (2018): 232-34; INCITE!, Statement by Critical Resistance and, “Gender Violence and the Prison-Industrial Complex,” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 47, no. 3 (2019): 253-258; Garrett-Walker, Ja’nina J., Dominique A. Broussard, and Whitneé L. Garrett-Walker. “Re-Imagining Masculinities: How Black Queer Feminism Can Liberate Black People from the Toxicity of Patriarchal Masculinity,” Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships 5, no. 4 (2019): 69-98; #BLM Manifesto (found online)

Recommended:  Anne Enke, ”Troubling Feminism, Troubling Race.” Reviews in American History 34, no. 4 (2006): 544-550; Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd, and Evelyn M. Simien. “Revisiting “What’s in a Name?”: Exploring the Contours of Africana Womanist Thought.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 27, no. 1 (2006): 67-89; Sarah Bracke. “The Unbearable Lightness of ‘Gender and Diversity’.” DiGeSt. Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies 1, no. 1 (2014): 41-50.

Week 12. Solutions: Difference as Diversity v. Antifa

Reading: John Protevi, ”Pluralizing Resistance: Connolly’s Aspirational Fascism,” Theory & Event 21, no. 4 (2018): 974-977; Ruth O’Brien, Out of Many One, Obama & the Third American Political Tradition, Chp.  chp. 1; Rory McVeigh and Kevin Estep, “Making America White Again” In The Politics of Losing: Trump, the Klan, and the Mainstreaming of Resentment, 221-28 (New York; Chichester, West Sussex: Columbia University Press, 2019); Kristina Horn Sheeler and Karrin Vasby Anderson. Woman President : Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2013), chp. 1, and conclusion; Scott Kurashige, ““Unruly Subjects”: American Studies from Antidiscipline to Revolutionary Praxis.” American Quarterly 72, no. 2 (2020): 307-336; Judith Greenberg, “A Situation of Fear: Revisiting Sartre in Trump’s America.” Studies in American Jewish Literature 39, no. 1 (2020): 73-92

Recommended:   Sarah Jones, ”The Dirtbag Manifesto.” Dissent 65, no. 4 (2018): 11-15; Jeremy D. Bailey, The Idea of Presidential Representation: An Intellectual and Political History (University Press of Kansas, 2019), chp. Introduction; Daphna Renan, “The President’s Two Bodies,” Columbia Law Review 120, no. 5 (2020): 1119-214; Richard S. Conley, Richard S. “Populist Disrupter-in-chief” In Donald Trump and American Populism, 1-57. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020); Cory Charles, Gooding”President Barack H. Obama and the Rhetoric of Race: Between Responsibility and Respectability.” In The Gendered Executive: A Comparative Analysis of Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Chief Executives, edited by Martin Janet M. and Borrelli MaryAnne, 44-63. Philadelphia; Rome; Tokyo: Temple University Press, 2016; Joseph Lowndes, “Barack Obama’s Body: The Presidency, the Body Politic, and the Contest over American National Political Identity, Polity 45 (2013): 469-98; Helene Slessarev, Betrayal of the Urban Poor (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1997); Garry Wills, Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man (New York: Mariner Books, 1969), part V, 499-602; Edmund Fong, “Reconstructing the ‘Problem’ of Race,” Political Research Quarterly 61, No. 4 (Dec., 2008), 660-70

Week 13. Presentations

Week 14. Presentations#