CANG 9160 et CANG 9260 Defining America:
The “culture wars” in the history of the United-States
Cours de niveau C1 Caroline Hildebrandt
In June 2022, the Supreme Court overruled the Roe v. Wade decision which secured the right for women to have an abortion. In February 2023, the Florida College Board (a higher education institution) stripped the African American Studies curriculum of any reference to critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism, and of any references to the current movement Black Lives Matter—at the request of conservative elects. These current decisions are no new phenomena. They are the offspring of an inner divide in the American public regarding opposed views on the moral and cultural order and which started in the 1960s United-States.
Defined as “culture wars” (James D. Hunter), it encompasses the alleged gradual polarization of the American population regarding social issues such as the right to abortion, the rights of LGBTQ+ persons, public education, the legal system of justice... This polarization on social topics supposedly toppled the “traditional” class analysis of social divides, to the point that the phrase “culture wars” was used by the Republican party in the 1992 election to accuse the Democrats of fueling a feminist and pro-gay agenda against the “traditional” and conservative values of the “ordinary American”.
The purpose of this class is to give a broader picture of the so-called “culture wars” in the United-States, to understand their origins and explore their evolution, in the political discourse but also in cultural institutions (universities) and society at large.
Is the US experiencing a new Civil War? Is Trump’s election and its consequences the direct legacy of an unbridgeable gap in the American society? What does this say of contemporary politics and of our globalized world?
- Providing students with the ability to discuss, research and write about complex ideas in written and spoken English
- Give students an understanding of contemporary history
- Widen the range of analytical tools for the study of cultural history, political sciences and sociology, and learn the specific vocabulary used in these fields
The evaluation will consist of 50% for the continuous assessment and 50% for the final exam.