n 1963, “King of Soul” Sam Cooke was arrested for disturbing the peace after a white desk clerk refused to honor his motel reservations. Shortly thereafter, Cooke penned lyrics that became an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement: “It’s been a long, a long time coming/ But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will.” Although Cooke died two weeks before the song was released, his “A Change is Gonna Come” has lived on to voice the collective discontent—and attendant hope—of those confronting systemic inequities.
America has a long history of dissent. This course examines that dissent in its diverse forms, using the creations of the disenfranchised to get to the heart of the cultural, political, and social injustices they fought--and continue to fight--against. From anti-war demonstrations on college campuses during the Vietnam War to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, from the Women’s Rights movement to the fight for same-sex marriage, from the writings of Ta-Nehisi Coates to Kristen Visbal’s “Fearless Girl,” students explore the various ways Americans empower change and express dissatisfaction with the status quo. Students also examine the ways politicians, activists, and demonstrators encourage or quell outrage and action, from the Occupy Movement to Donald Trump’s “Make American Great Again” Campaign.
In this course, students study social commentary through the arts and political discourse to develop a deeper understanding of American voices, culture, and history. They practice literary analysis and persuasive writing by crafting historically-grounded essays, and explore the theories behind social movements and protests.