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Grant number like: AQ-50712-12

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Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA 02481-8203)
Cord James Whitaker (Project Director: September 2011 to October 2017)

Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants
Education Programs

[Grant products]

$24,996 (approved)
$24,996 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2012 – 6/30/2017

NEH Enduring Questions Course on "What Is Racial Difference?"

The development of an undergraduate course on the question, What is racial difference?

Cord Whitaker, assistant professor of English at the University of New Hampshire, develops a course to investigate the question of racial difference - whether racial difference is best understood as linguistic, physical, geographic, religious, or biological. Through readings and discussions concerned with questions about the nature of race, students explore how racial concepts are perceived and used. Furthermore, they contextualize and scrutinize notions of race through questions such as: Are ideas about human difference political? Are they manifestations of self-interest on the part of humans who stand to benefit from them? Or do they have some less practical origin? Course readings are divided into units that focus on physical difference, geographical difference, religious difference, and definitions of race. Readings include Aristotle's Politics, Augustine's City of God, Avicenna's Canon of Medicine, Pliny the Elder's Natural History, Bartholomaeus Anglicus's On the Properties of Things, Thomas More's Utopia, Averroes' Faith and Reason in Islam, Cabez de Vaca's La Relación, René Girard's Scapegoat, Sir Walter Raleigh's Discovery of Guiana, Carl Linnaeus's Systema Naturae, Charles Darwin's Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animal, Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism, Kwame Anthony Appiah's Ethics of Identity, Martin Bernal's Black Athena together with Mary Lefkowitz's critique of the book, and Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark. The introduction of this course lends momentum to the creation of an interdisciplinary center for the study of race and ethnicity at UNH.