Writing Seminars: The Trouble with Equality

Instruction in writing well-reasoned analyses and academic arguments, with emphasis on the importance of reading, research, and revision. Using examples of nonfiction prose from a variety of academic disciplines, individual sections focus on topics such as vision, globalization, generosity, experts and expertise, the good life, and dissent in American culture.

How do we make sense of social divisions today? Why does inequality persist? And why is it getting worse? This class seeks to shed light on the persistent problem of inequality by querying what we mean when we use the word equality. Perhaps most provocatively, we will spend a good deal of time making heretical if corollary inquiries: What if the trouble lies with the notion of equality itself? Could the trouble with equality help explain the persistence of inequality? To do so we will tarry with a few historical touchstones such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and the Declaration of Independence. From there we will take up the limits of equality today in terms of race, class, and gender, before bringing what we glean to bear upon the Black Lives Matter movement and contemporary inquiries into mass incarceration and the legacy of slavery. We will conclude with a case study that considers recent events at Yale concerning questions of racial and gender equality in light of our previous inquiries.

Students who wish to enroll in a section of this seminar should participate in online preregistration, which opens at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, December 12, 2016 and closes promptly at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

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MW 9:00am-10:15am