Imagining Race and Nation
This course will rethink the narrative of American urban and ethnic history up to the 21st century in terms of what historian Anthony Marx called “Making Race and Nation.” At times, a nation is born in a revolutionary war; and, at times, a nation is born in the poetic, sermonic, and lyrical dreams of a national community. America is an imagined national community, whose history is continuously reworked in poetic images that help generations of American people reorder and make meaning of this country’s dynamic chaos. Thus, an underpinning of history writing is the poetic imagination. This course explores major contours in the long road of democratic revolution that led to the Barack Obama White House. For centuries, a black president of the United States was unimaginable. Far too many Americans conceived of America as a White Nation. In that national vision, nonwhites were thought to be segregated somewhere outside of the boundaries of full American citizenship. By exploring painting, theatre, photography, film, and historiography, this course will rethink the metanarrative of American history in terms of unfinished American revolutions attempting to remake race and nation in the modern world.