Writing Seminars: The Trouble with Equality

How do we make sense of social divisions? Why do those divisions seem to have intensified in recent years? And what is to be done about them? This course seeks to shed light on the persistent problem of inequality by querying what we mean when we say equality today. 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? 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 trouble with equality today in terms of race, gender, sexuality, and class before bringing what we glean to bear upon how the Black Lives Matter movement responds to mass incarceration and the legacy of slavery. We will conclude by examining the rise of the Alt-Right and no-platform campaigns that have reignited debates over free speech on campus here at Yale and elsewhere.


Students who wish to enroll in this seminar should participate in online preregistration, which opens at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 23 and closes promptly at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 28, 2017.

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TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm