My Syllabus for “Class, Status, Power”

As I mentioned before, I teach stratification.

I approach syllabi kind of like I approach the Constitution. It is a living, breathing, collaborative document constantly under revision for attention to different voices and standpoints. The trick is always balancing that against a necessary framework that cannot be totally negotiated away. There is some appeal to authority always present. I have to teach Marx and Weber, for example. That’s non-negotiable and necessarily imposes an U.S.-centric authority to sociology that guides the negotiation of voices within the framework. I’m always interrogating that.

With the freedom of solo-teaching (let us praise a deity here for the end of my TA days) I am trying to apply a lot of what I have learned from the many great teachers and pedagogical theorists I engage on twitter and in “real life”. One, reflective practice revealed that I privilege linear thinking and writing. To address this I am experimenting with a social media track for writing assignments. I hope students that prefer a more multi-media mode of learning will take this option to use visual media, video, and divergent thinking in lieu of papers.

Also, it is obvious that I think there is a great deal of pedagogical value to using digital spaces in teaching. However, as a black woman I am sensitive to how these spaces can be dangerous for some students. Therefore, while I will use twitter and blogs to engage some class content I am not requiring students to use these spaces from personal accounts. I’m trying to balance autonomy and innovation here. Social media engagement will not be included in grading.

I also have a thing for the sociological imagination and contemporary social problems. Throughout the syllabus I try to apply these classical theories to how we live in this moment. So, I draw on my social media connections here a great deal. We will be talking about feminism, class, race, and Lean In, for example. We’ll also spend some time in my wheelhouse when I pair a truncated version of my higher ed and stratification lectures with an analysis of unpaid labor, adjuncts, internships and the prestige economy.

I am in debt to so many generous scholars online. Many of them show up on my syllabus, including a huge hat-tip to Lisa Wade for sharing a pre-release version of her forthcoming book that I will be using in my intersectionality lectures.

It’s still a work in progress. As am I.

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5 thoughts on “My Syllabus for “Class, Status, Power”

  1. What an interesting syllabus ! I am curious – why did not you include “Nickeled and Dimed” ? This is not my field, but it looks like an interesting course.

    1. Well, in an undergrad course reading entire books is a lot to ask. I try to keep it to just one and in this area there are quite of few really good smart general reads on poverty and economic precarity. I could only choose one. I chose this one because it is more recent than Ehrenreich’s and I want to focus on the immediacy of contemporary stratification. And, it has more attention to structure in it. Having said that, I’m an Ehrenrecih stan.

  2. My opinion, for what little it’s worth, is that Nickeled and Dimed was a bit overrated. I also thought the narrative had an undertone of privelege. Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London is a better book for getting that point across, IMHO, and more insightful. Thoughts?

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