I see teaching not only as an essential part of my identity as a scholar, but also integral to the pursuit of a more just and equitable society. As such, I offer classes designed to engage students in perennial questions in American politics. In each of these courses, my primary goal is to foster student engagement with, and critical analyses of, existing scholarship and to push them to consider the practical value of that scholarship. With respect to the latter, I want students to see what those works tell us about the way the world functions — even those parts we do not, ourselves, directly experience. Course titles and descriptions follow. Syllabi available upon request.
- Latinxs in U.S. Politics: This course will provide a general survey of Latinx politics in the United States. The Latinx population is estimated to be nearly 58 million and Latinxs comprise 18% of the national population. The purpose of the course is to learn about both the history and political processes Latinxs have taken part in, but also probe deeper theoretical questions of ethnicity and identity. For example, what is a Latinx pan-ethnic identity? The course will also examine the role of the “Latinx Vote” and examine the impact of Latinx voters on recent campaigns and elections. A significant segment of the course will focus on the policy process and examine the interaction of Latinxs with other political actors and groups. For example, legislation aimed at immigrants and Latinxs more broadly such as Arizona’s SB1070 and the DREAM Act. The course will also include topics such as social movements, political imagery, public opinion, and political representation. Finally, this course will utilize film and art on immigration, changing demographics, and the Chicano Movement.
- Encounters with the State: Considerable efforts have been made to explore the effects of state-visibility on modern conceptions of citizenship, political trust, the formation of political interests and preferences, and general attitudes toward government. The impetus for this stems not only from a discernible decline in levels of citizen trust in government, but from a perception of receding state-visibility over the last four decades. Given the positive effects of state-contact on citizen participation and political attitudes, the retrenchment and drift of government social programs, and the development of a “submerged state,” presents a significant problem for contemporary (and future) American politics. Scholars argue that the further obscured the role of the state becomes to the public, the less likely they are to both hold positive attitudes toward government, and assume political identities. But has the state, indeed, receded from public view? And if so, for whom? Motivated by this central question, this course explores how encounters with the state shape the experience of citizenship (or lack thereof) in the United States. By focusing on myriad examples where the state has not become “submerged” — where the state makes contact with civil society — we will explore the distribution of power and privilege in American politics.
- Race and Policing in the U.S.: Are the police, as an institution, irredeemably flawed? Motivated by this central question, this course explores the long, and mutually-constitutive relationship between race and law enforcement in the United States — from the earliest “slave patrols” to the murder, live-streamed on Facebook, of Philando Castile — and the implications of that relationship for liberal democratic norms. Beginning with an introduction to the theoretical conception of race and, more specifically, “Whiteness,” the course proceeds with a historical analysis of the role those constructs played in the development of modern policing (and vice versa). Interdisciplinary by design, this course draws on empirical studies, popular culture, and current events to engage students in an informed discussion of a complex, but ever-salient subject in American political life. Topics covered include: racial profiling and “Stop, Question, and Frisk”; institutional reforms and the minority police officer; police-contact and political behavior among people of color; and the racialization of the immigration and homeland security state.
- American Citizenship in the 21st Century: Who belongs in the United States, and how do we decide? Motivated by these central questions, this course explores what it has meant, and what it means today, to be an American by tracing the mutually-constitutive relationship between formal membership in the polity and specific notions about race, class, and gender. Beginning with an introduction to the theoretical conception of citizenship, the course proceeds as a sociopolitical analysis of the “roots” and “routes” to American citizenship — from the Naturalization Act of 1790 to the proposed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Interdisciplinary by design, this course draws on empirical studies, popular culture, and current events to engage students in an informed discussion of a sensitive, but ever-salient subject in American political life. Topics covered include: the precondition of “Whiteness”; the historical role of “the stranger”; immigrant incorporation, exclusion, and expulsion; and the mutability of Jus Meritum (service-citizenship).
- The Politics of Borders: Are we — and what does it mean to be — a nation of immigrants? In this course, we will address these questions by exploring the political, social, and cultural responses to immigration and borders in the United States, both historical and contemporary.