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CHID 260 A: Re-Thinking Diversity

Re-thinking Diversity

Meeting Time: 
TTh 8:30am - 10:20am
BNS 117
Anu Taranath

Syllabus Description:

CHID 260A: Winter 2016: Rethinking Diversity
Instructor: Dr. Anu Taranath (,
Class Time: T TH 8:30-10:20am
Office Hours: Tues 1:30-2:30 am & by appt.
Office: Padelford Hall, A506 (A Wing, 5th floor)

There’s quite a lot of talk around equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice, but do you sometimes wonder what these terms actually mean? This class focuses on identity and social differences in a friendly and generous atmosphere that will not shame you for not knowing. We will investigate the meanings and implications of race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, and other social differences, and discuss how ideas about “difference” and “diversity” play out in society, our campus, and our own lives.

Our course texts will be a combination of scholarly essays, films, creative non-fiction, short stories and 2 novels. This is an introductory course, designed to welcome students of all majors and intellectual interests. Our one requirement: a willingness to engage in productive, generative and collegial conversations.

CHID 260A counts for the UW’s Diversity Credit.

Required Texts:

Anna In-Between—Elizabeth Nunez
Boundaries—Elizabeth Nunez
Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation—Eli Clare
Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race—Debby Irving

assorted readings on Canvas
Course expectations: all readings & assignments completed on assigned days; attendance in class and workshops, course work to be turned in on time; engagement and respectfulness toward colleagues and course ideas. Late papers will not be accepted unless something quite dramatic occurs. If you are absent from class, first check with two of your classmates to find out what you have missed and exchange notes. Once you do this you can contact me for additional information. I may post reading prompts, short questions, and other course information on our class Canvas page, so configure your notifications appropriately.

Assignments and Grade Distribution:

First Look Epistemology paper—5%
Connected to Class—10%
Midterm Project—30%
Final Project—35%

Participation: includes all assigned readings by the assigned dates; active participation in class and workshops; attendance, short writings, short homeworks, collaborative engagement with our class colleagues, timely submission of written work, overall “how you are engaging with the people and ideas of this class”: 20%

Paper 1: Your First Look Epistemology
How is it you have come to know what you know what “diversity” might be? How does who you are effect what you know about this topic? This is a Working Paper, which implies a provisional, incomplete nature, and will be evaluated on its thoughtfulness and self-investigation. Suggested length 2 pages, due Thursday January 7th at the beginning of class. 5%

Connected to Class

Our campus frequently hosts free lectures, film screenings, performances, presentations and other opportunities to engage in “diversity” issues. Attend one such event either on or off campus this quarter. To make sure the event you plan to attend will count for this assignment, run your idea by two classmates. Write a 2 page report that briefly describes the event and explores the connections to our class readings and discussions. Floating due date: due anytime before Feb 19 noon. 10%.


Midterm Project: due Thursday Feb 11 at the beginning of class.

Part 1) Second Look Epistemology paper
Take a look at your First Look paper. Now, four weeks later, have your ideas grown, changed, revised, refined, or stayed the same? Why do you think so? How have the readings and class discussions contributed to your evolving sense of what diversity is, how it plays out in society as well as your own life? The Second Look Epistemology paper offers an opportunity to chart your own intellectual progress by engaging heavily with the readings and class discussions. Suggested length 3-4 pages. 15%.

Part 2) Not-Your-Epistemology
When we deeply engage with the stories of people who are different than us, we stretch our capacity for empathy and compassion. Think of a minor character we have read about who seems absolutely, incontrovertibly different than you in terms of identity. Compose an epistemology for them in the first person examining how they have come to believe particular ideas about themselves, diversity, difference and society-- similar to your own First Look epistemology. Base your fictionalized Not-Your-Epistemology on the little you know about the character from what we’ve read, and mostly from your imagination. Suggested length 3-4 pages. 15%.


Final Portfolio Project: due Thursday March 10 at the beginning of class.

This multidisciplinary and multi-layered project is designed to encourage you to showcase your cumulative learning.

Part 1) Visual Mapping

Create a visual of the terms “diversity,” “difference,” “similarity,” YOU, and two other words of your choice. This assignment is an opportunity to map yourself onto our cumulative class themes. Use any visual medium. Do not use the terms above in the visual image as actual words, but rather, figure out how to represent them in a more creative and organic way. Include a paragraph or two explanation of the visual image, how you came to it, and what is signifies. 5%.

Part 2)  "Rethinking Diversity" essay

Imagine Elizabeth Nunez and Eli Clare together, two authors invested in issues of “diversity” from different angles. What might “rethinking diversity” mean for Elizabeth Nunez as evidenced in her novel Boundaries? What understanding of diversity might her novel be “rethinking” and how? How would this kind of “rethinking” be different than, say, Eli Clare’s way of “rethinking diversity” as evidenced in Exile and Pride? In what kind of “rethinking” is Clare’s work invested, and how does that connect or not with Nunez’s project?

These are big questions, and you’ll have to make some space in your mind to slow down, think strategically and plan your response. Suggested length 5-6 pages. 20%.

I’m looking for two things in responses:
1) Rigorous engagement with both texts in a way that demonstrates you’ve read both books and thought deeply about the ideas our authors write about.
2) An awareness that “rethinking diversity” means different things for different configurations of us. Where do we end up—you and I as individual people, all of us as a classroom of colleagues in a university setting, or even more broadly, as a deeply polarized society—if we “rethink diversity”? How might our authors show us a way out, or not?


Part 3) Dear Me Letter

Write a letter to the person you hope to be in another 5 years. What would you like your future self to remember from this quarter’s worth of thinking, reading and conversation and why? Suggested length 1-2 pages. 10%.



Schedule of Readings & Assignments, subject to revision

week 1-- tues jan 5: introduction to course themes, philosophies, pedagogies, expectations.
thurs jan 7: Anna In-Between, My Brown Eyes, First Look paper due


week 2—tues jan 12:  Anna In-Between-- through chapter 20
thurs jan 14: Anna In-Between/ film screening-- complete the novel.


week 3—tues jan 19: readings by Audre Lorde (Canvas) Words of Fire 283-291.pdf, pages 1-74 in Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? Tatum_pg._1-79.pdf
thurs jan 21: Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (Canvas), Tatum_pg._80-113.pdf



week 4- tues jan 26: Waking Up White ( through page 111); Racial Identity Process drawing due.

thurs jan 28: Waking Up White (115-215).


week 5—tues feb 2: Waking up White (219 to end); readings from This Bridge Called My Back (Canvas)This Bridge Called My Back.pdfView in a new windowView in a new window
thurs feb 4: film screening


week 6—tues feb 9: Midterm workshop
thurs feb 11: Midterm due; film screening


week 7- tues feb 16: Exile and Pride; film screening
thurs feb 18: Exile and Pride
fri feb 19 noon: Connected to Class due on or by this date


week 8—tues feb 23: film screening; revisions to Midterm due today.
thurs feb 25: Boundaries


week 9—tues march 1: Boundaries
thurs march 3: Clare, 81-118; 143-160.


wk 10— tues march 8: portfolio workshop
thurs march 10: Final Class Portfolio Projects due


Additional Details:

There’s quite a lot of talk around equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice, but do you sometimes wonder what these terms actually mean?  Would you like to learn more about identity and social differences (such as race, gender, class, culture, sexuality) in a friendly and generous atmosphere that does not shame you for not knowing?

Here on our campus, issues of diversity are central to the institution’s mission, but raise a number of questions. For example:

-- Why does the University fund an Ethnic Cultural Center, a Q Center, a D Center, Women's Center?  Doesn't emphasizing diversity create more barriers among students?

--What does it mean that the University has a Diversity Blueprint to guide planning for equity and inclusion.  Why has the faculty passed a diversity requirement?

If the above questions incite your curiosity-- and you’d like to talk about issues of identity and social differences without the weirdness, awkwardness, and discomfort that usually accompanies such topics-- this might be a good class for you!



Catalog Description: 
Considers the notion of diversity from many scholarly perspectives and from personal engagements. Critically engages historical thinking about diversity and examines contemporary issues such as racism, sexism, and the cultural politics of difference.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:11pm