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CHID 480 C: Special Topics: Advanced Study Of The History Of Ideas

The Wire: Race, Education, Poverty, and Power

Meeting Time: 
MW 10:30am - 12:20pm
MGH 085
Max Hunter

Additional Details:

David Simon envisioned The Wire as a counter-narrative that challenged mainstream perceptions on democracy, equality and opportunity in the United States. CHID 480c appropriates Simon’s film series to probe even deeper into discourses intersecting at the site of race, class, and social justice. We will read The Wire through readings from diverse academic perspectives to investigate the cleavages in narratives and perceptions about disparities in racial experiences and urban realities.

In the spirit of the CHID 250 series, the core focus (or “problem”) in our 480 course is the experience of low socioeconomic urban African-Americans and the systems they find themselves embedded in on The Wire. Our multi-disciplinary set of readings provides a framework for comparative analysis. By the end of the term, students in CHID 480c will possess the ability to draw academic discourses to analyze and describe the issues of race, gender, identity, criminality, education, poverty, sexuality, and sexual abuse.

Student learning goals

  • Students will engage diverse academic discourses interested in race, crime, education, poverty, gender, and sexuality.
  • Students will compare and contrast diverse disciplinary approaches to issues concerning the black urban experience.
  • Students will appropriate vocabularies from diverse academic discourses to describe, analyze, and articulate issues related to (black) urban inequality as represented in The Wire
  • Students will use theoretical texts to illuminate key themes and narratives in the television series.
  • Students will conduct discourse analysis to generate new theories (of their own) about the urban black male experience.
  • Students will summarize key concepts, terms, and arguments in our readings in weekly reflections (2 pages) and one book review modeled on an academic style.

General method of instruction

The class will involve watching The Wire and using academic texts to illuminate (in theoretical terms) important themes in the series. Our meetings will involve faculty and student group led discussions based on the Harkness method. Edward Harkness described the method in the following manner: “What I have in mind is [a classroom] where [students] could sit around a table with a teacher who would talk with them and instruct them by a sort of tutorial or conference method, where [each student] would feel encouraged to speak up."

Recommended preparation

Students should be prepared to develop facility with reading academic texts. Students should be prepared to develop ability to summarize complicated ideas. Students should be prepared to develop possess the basic foundations of academic writing involving quoting and citing academic texts.

Class assignments and grading

The main requirements in the course involve facilitating student group led discussions in the course in which students summarize the reading and provide questions for discussion.

Students will write a substantive weekly reflection on the reading, film, and discussions from the week.

Grades are based on the following components of the course: participation in (text based) discussions weekly reflections Student group led class discussions

Catalog Description: 
Examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework with an interdisciplinary perspective. Satisfies the Gateways major/minor requirement. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
April 28, 2016 - 9:11am