New Course: Writing Police Power


On Monday I’ll start teaching my last course here at Berkeley.  It’s a reading and composition course–so its main goal is to teach first and second-year undergraduates the skills necessary for reading, writing and doing research at the college level–but within that overall goal individual instructors get a huge amount of leeway in picking the course theme.

My course will be “Writing Police Power” and I’m pretty excited by it.  You can see a copy of the syllabus here.  the basic premise of the course is that writing about police, across a variety of genres (including urban ethnography), is a way of writing about power.  This is also the thesis of an article I’ve written, currently under review by PoLAR, but the main point for the students here is to get how different representational strategies couch within theme theories of power–a skill they’ll need if they’re going to be critical readers of ethnographic texts for upper division courses.

Since this is a super-condensed summer course I decided to cut out more of the examples from critical theory (Althusser on interpollation, Lacan on the Purloined Letter, etc.) than I’d ideally like, but I do hope it goes well.  Any comments would be awesome, however…

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