This class is taking place in the midst of a global pandemic that has highlighted and exacerbated the structures of oppression we are studying. As I design this syllabus, we do not know what the fall of 2020 will bring, but we can be sure that we will experience individual and collective disruptions. I recognize and accept that there will be times when all of us need to prioritize health, family, or simply survival above graduate study in these coming weeks.

We come together also amid ongoing uprising fueled by the grassroots organizing of the Movement for Black Lives, and in the run-up to and aftermath of an election that will determine future conditions for life and politics in the US. Feminist, antiracist, decolonial knowledge is more urgent and necessary than ever, even as the institutional context in which we are embedded grows ever more uncertain and precarious. It is my hope and intention that all we read and discuss in this class will help us to understand and to act in the world within which we find ourselves. But I also recognize that there may be places more urgent for you to be than the virtual classroom, however feminist, radical, and carefully designed our course may be.

In practice, these are the accommodations I am making for the moment in which we find ourselves.

  • Deadlines. I will offer as much flexibility as I have the capacity to give, but I do ask one thing: that you send me something when an assignment is due. This may be your roughest draft, something that’s almost complete, or simply an explanation of why you haven’t got anything to share yet. But let me know what you’ve been doing and tell me when I can expect the final version.
  • Attendance. There will be no penalties for missing synchronous classes; the class has been set up such that these are the primary mode of engagement, but if we find as the semester goes on that they are poorly attended, we may shift to a more asynchronous modality. I hope that we will be successful in creating a virtual space that everyone wants to come and spend time in, as much as is possible. But if you need to be somewhere else, go there.
  • Reading. There is a lot of assigned reading for this class, and we are all burned out and tired. Though I have borne this in mind when selecting texts, I have not significantly cut the reading load from prior semesters because I view this syllabus as a reference as well as a set of assignments: it is a description of a body of knowledge to which I want students to be able to return when they have need. I believe that this material matters and I want us to do it justice, even if that cannot take the form it does in a typical semester. But I do recognize that even in a typical semester the reading loads of humanities graduate study are beyond the capacity of many. We will work as necessary to collectively prioritize and to distribute the labor of deep reading.
  • Grades. Everyone who engages fully and does the work of the seminar will get an A. If you are unable to finish the work this semester and tell me why, we can discuss a grade that acknowledges the work you did complete, and/or an opportunity (i.e. an incomplete grade) to finish the work later.
  • Communication. I am willing to be flexible on almost anything this semester, but if you are not communicating with me, I can’t help you. If things are getting hard for you for any reason and it seems likely to affect your ability to participate in class, let me know before things get urgent, if that is possible.