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Full Course Name: Introduction to Gun Studies: History, Politics, and American Violence
Few objects loom larger in American history, media, and politics than guns. Americans own more firearms than citizens of any other country on Earth. The United States is the largest manufacturer, importer, and exporter of guns on the planet. Alongside currency, guns are the only manufactured object mentioned in the U.S. Constitution; and the question and reality of the “right to bear arms” have proved central to the formation of American state, society, and culture. Today, the American history of the gun—from colonial settlement to Manifest Destiny to Jim Crow—finds continuity in routine spectacles of armed protest and mass shooting, as well as in the quieter, quotidian dramas of American life. What are we to make of America’s relationship to guns? In what ways is it exceptional, and in what ways is it not? How did this all come to be, and what might the future hold?
These are some of the key questions animating the emergent, interdisciplinary field of Gun Studies, to which this class offers a survey introduction. Bracketing partisan commitments, we will explore guns as products of political economy, objects involved in specific ways of life, and sites of both shared and contested meaning. We will consider materials from, among other fields, history, sociology, legal studies, cognitive psychology, and public health, as well as pieces of journalism, literary texts, and films. Moving from the beginning of colonization through the establishment and expansion of the United States, we will track the role of guns to the present, paying particular attention to both the modern “gun control” and “gun rights” movements. Considering America in a global context, we will interrogate and refine the stakes of American “exceptionalism” vis-à-vis guns and gun violence, as well explore how American “gun culture” in fact consists of multiple gun cultures. We will consider the many ways in which guns have been, and remain, intimately involved with questions of race, gender, class, the extraction of wealth, and flows of capital, and consider the complex relationship of guns to resistance, repression, vigilantism, and constructions of legitimacy. Readings will include work by Jennifer Carlson, Richard Slotkin, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Priya Satia, Adam Winkler, Jonathan Metzl, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Ida B. Wells, Caroline Light, Gary Younge, and many others.
This course is available for "remote" learning and will be available to anyone with access to an internet device with a microphone (this includes most models of computers, tablets). Classes will take place with a "Live" instructor at the date/times listed below.
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This class isn't on the schedule at the moment, but save it to your Wish List to find out when it comes back!
The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...
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The Los Angeles Center of Photography is thrilled to produce an ongoing series on the history of photography. The series, typically offered the third Tuesday of each month, will be divided into the genres of photography. This year features lectures on notable Black and Women photographers in history, Street Photography, Still Life, Landscape and Documentary....
Tuesday Jun 21st, 5pm - 6:30pm Pacific Time
Racial Capitalism: Race, Class, and the Black Radical Tradition “Racial capitalism” is a concept that has become central to contemporary radical movements, from Black Lives Matter to the prison abolition movement to movements against state violence and for climate justice. The concept was first developed by Cedric Robinson in his monumental Black...
Monday Jun 6th, 6:30pm - 9:30pm Eastern Time(4 sessions)
Why do we want what we want? The critique of capitalism is very often associated – by both proponents and antagonists – with a critique of consumerism which, in turn, is treated as a pathology of individual desire. People should stop shopping; people should eschew goods; people should want less; people should police their own desires (or, if they...
Tuesday Jun 7th, 6:30pm - 9:30pm Eastern Time(4 sessions)
Relative to the enormous power it wields over American life, the article of the U.S. Constitution that creates the judicial branch is surprisingly brief: “The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” From those 30 words has...
Wednesday Jun 8th, 6:30pm - 9:30pm Eastern Time(4 sessions)
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