Catalog Description—GSTR 210: Writing Seminar II-Identity & Diversity in the U.S. This course is designed to develop and build upon the reasoning, writing, research, and learning emphases of GSTR 110 while engaging all students on issues close to the historic mission of the College—race, gender, Appalachia, and class. Each section initially explores the story of Berea, including as it relates to the unifying themes of GSTR 210. Each section of the course involves explicit, continuing attention to writing, reasoning, research, and reflective engagement with various texts, including instruction in the processes of producing a research paper.
Student Learning Outcomes for GSTR 210
Successful students will:
- write competently at the college-level, using a multi-stage process approach to writing, including formation of a supportable, narrow topic, drafting, revision, and editing;
- be proficient in properly documenting sources and recognizing and avoiding plagiarism;
- be adept at using a wide variety of sources for research and seeing how different types of source work together;
- demonstrate thoughtful engagement with ideas, experiences, issues, and texts in various types of writing, including sustain an argument in a research paper;
- be able to demonstrate enhanced oral communication skills;
- employ reasonably well basic critical thinking concepts describing, analyzing, and synthesizing materials;
- understand issues related to race, gender, class and Appalachia in a national context.
NOTE: Below are section descriptions for all instructors who regularly teach GSTR 210. Not all of these instructors listed here teach the course each term. Please refer to the schedule of classes for the term in question to see which instructors will be offering the course.
GSTR 210- Adams, Sarah: Doing the Right Thing at Berea and Beyond. At the end of his Oscar acceptance speech for BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee shouted, “Let’s do the right thing!” Lee’s charge, which is also the title of his 1985 film that we’ll watch in class, leads us to the central question of this course: how do we decide what is the right thing to do? We will begin the semester by learning about Berea College, focusing in particular on key decisions made in the College’s history (e.g., the decision to open the Lincoln Institute in 1912). We’ll consider how students, faculty, staff, and administration have chosen the right (and perhaps sometimes wrong) thing to do. We’ll examine how those key decisions were reached, the values that influenced the decision process, and what the consequences of those decisions have been. After that, we’ll learn about and practice democratic deliberation, a strategic approach to communication designed to help communities discuss and better understand the problems they face. In small groups, students will identify a problem related to one of the GSTR 210 themes (race, class, gender, Appalachia); research different approaches to that problem; and facilitate a public deliberation on the problem/approaches for Berea College community members. Modeled on the National Issues Forum, students will moderate an open discussion that considers the benefits and trade-offs of different courses of action. Essentially, we’ll have the opportunity to ask our fellow community members what they think is the right thing to do. Finally, we will individually draw on the research for and discussion of our deliberations in order to advocate for one specific course of action. Each of us will attempt to persuade an audience of our choosing as to what the right thing to do is.
GSTR 210- Anderson, Broughton: The Archaeology of Berea: The Archaeology of Us. Does our stuff define who we are – as humans, as Americans, as Bereans, as distinct individuals? Often defined as fixed or static, identity is, however, mutable, a social construction we impose on ourselves, each other, and the world around us. Using archaeology as a lens of inquiry, this class will explore our material culture as a means to understanding identity and issues of race, class, and gender. This class will explore the ever-changing relationships we have with each other and with things, leading us to inevitably ask how we influence Berea’s identity as it influences ours.
GSTR 210- Barton, Adanma: What You See is What You Get? Unfortunately we live in a world where pictorial stereotypes in the media are prevalent. In this course we will examine stereotypes pertaining to ethnicity, gender, age, etc. Through research we will attempt to discover a common ground and map out hopes for the future. Materials covered include A Day without a Mexican, True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams’ Appalachia, and Images That Injure: Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media. Students should be prepared to engage in intelligent discussions, write researched essays, and conclude with a final research paper.
GSTR 210- Broadhead, Edwin: The Berea Story in a national Context. This section of GSTR 210 explores the Berea story throughout the semester in order to analyze issues of race, gender, Appalachia, class, and education within both a local and a national context. The reasoning, research, and writing skills addressed in GSTR 110 are reviewed and developed in this course. Each student is expected to demonstrate these skills in a research paper that develops one of the central themes of the course.
GSTR 210- Brown, Jarrod: Identity and Knowledge. Berea College’s historical mission has been dedicated to education of four “classes” of people: Appalachians, African Americans, women, and those with economic need. All four of these identities, however, are often depicted in the popular media and popular imagination as uneducated, backwards, irrational or ignorant, from minstrel show depictions of African Americans to contemporary portrayals of Appalachians like Wrong Turn. In exploring the intersection of identity and our status as knowers, and through the history of Berea College as an educational institution, we will examine the making of stereotypes, reflect on how they impact us, and how we as knowers can respond and challenge such stereotypes. Using the lens of feminist epistemology, we scrutinize a variety of mediums including television programs, movies, historical documents, and academic works to understand how identity is created from without as well as from within, to understand the historical construction of these identities in America, and how these constructions relate to stereotypes of classes of people as epistemic agents, as knowers and sources of knowledge.
GSTR 210- Bruder, Anne: American Memory: Myth, History, Identity, Diversity. Memory has long been studied in the academy as a psychological process of individual cognition. Over the past twenty years, however, notions of collective, public, and cultural memory have emerged as a useful means of understanding the complex ways that personal remembrances are enmeshed in larger social patterns that inform the ways that we both invent and engage with different genealogies of belonging. This course examines the contested role of memory in constructing historical meaning and imagining the cultural boundaries of communities. We will examine a variety of symbolic and material expressions that Americans have developed over time to celebrate racial, regional, economic, and national difference by exploring rituals, artifacts, monuments, landscapes, and performances. Problems we will examine include the invention of tradition; the politics of commemoration; subaltern expression and counter-memory; and the cultural work and play performed by celebrity figures, sites of memory, and national legends. We will approach these problems from a variety of disciplinary perspectives including those of literature, history, anthropology, folklore, cultural geography, and media studies. Some of the sites and issues we collectively explore include the problem of American origins; the calendar as a site of memory; places of violence and tragedy; and Confederate and American Indian national counter-memories. The readings for this class include a variety of case studies that will provide you will models of scholarship and interpretation designed to stimulate the interdisciplinary creativity of your own academic pursuits. At the end of the semester you will better understand the manifold processes through which the past is made to matter and how memory studies provides an enabling dimension of analysis for your own scholarship.
GSTR 210- Burnside, Jackie: Being Different, Becoming Distinctive. When Berea reopened after the Civil War ended, black and white males and females were enrolled on an equal status as students in Kentucky’s first interracial and coeducational institution of education. In this course, we will examine the trials, tribulations, and celebrations of the Berea saga from the 19th century into the 21st as we ponder the challenges and opportunities for the College in being different, and becoming distinctive. In addition to the final research paper, students will be expected to participate in class discussions, make short oral presentations in teams, and engage in writing several reflective exercises based on our work with various texts.
GSTR 210- Caruthers, Jakeya: Respectability and Rebellion. Moral and aesthetic standards of “decency” are among the many social tools we use to recognize, reprimand, and discard our fellow citizens. This section of GSTR 210 questions the cultural, structural, and political origins of respectability ideology and examines how notions of “propriety” have deep and variable impact on people who are marginalized or considered “minor.” Through research, writing, and engagement with pop culture and scholarship, we will explore ideologies of respectability and acts of rebellion in connection with homelessness, AIDS, welfare, addiction, dis/ability, body size, age, race, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status, regional culture, spatial “blight,” participation in informal economies, etc. By the end of the course, we’ll be able to answer questions like: What does it mean to be (seen as) a decent, respectable person? Are these standards universal? Do they matter differently for people of different identity positions and social circumstances? What are the political dimensions of respectability in the US? What are the stakes of respectability for survival and everyday life? What are the risks and rewards of rebellion?
GSTR 210- Cohen, Jason: Race, Citizenship, and Lyrical Critique. Who is a citizen, and what has citizenship required historically? How does that differ from its implications today? Being a citizen seems like a fact of life – unless your birth or residence is not considered “regular,” or unless you are denied access to rights and entitlements, or unless you have been convicted of a felony crime, or unless you don’t have the money to exercise your rights, or unless you have crossed established legal thresholds, or unless you are otherwise silenced. Citizenship, that is to say, is not at all ensured: it is a term under pressure, open to critique and interpretation, and at times, threatened by the very political processes that gave form to it. Citizenship, we will further suggest, is a contact zone among varied people and cultures, and we will asks how that contact works. We will examine a variety of sources shaped by racial, regional, economic, and national concerns about citizenship, from Claudine Rankin’s long poem Citizen to the study of tragedy and community in Othello, to contemporary literary, historical, and geographic articulations of resistance. We will look at Native American problems of nation and citizenship as well. We will watch films, listen to lyrics attentively from bluegrass to hip hop, and as with all GSTR 210 sections, this course will develop the reasoning, writing, and research components of your liberal arts education, culminating in a major research project and presentation.
GSTR 210- Crachiolo, Beth: American Identities: How do you know? This section will explore the definitions of “American,” beginning with the assumption that there are multiple definitions. What makes an American? What are the negotiations, tensions, and constructions that we use to forge our identities? We will be focused particularly on gender, race, and class, especially as they relate to and/or define various categories of Americans: the privileged; the oppressed; the immigrant; the educated; the differently abled; the urban/rural American. Since GSTR 210 has a research paper at its center, we will be working on yours all semester, step by step. Whether you are American or not, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, as well as about this country.
GSTR 210- Creel, Eba: Ethnic Heritage and the Quest for Identity in the USA.
“We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community – and this nation.” – Cesar Chavez.
It is not surprising that the demographics in Berea College and in this country over the years continue to shift and shape a person’s self-identity. Thus, preserving one’s traditions has been a quest for many heritage individuals in the United States, and an area of interest for many researchers. Consequently, in a multicultural environment the notion of “Americanness,” and the sense of a homogenized cultural becomes indefinite. This course section surveys the different waves of immigrations in the United States throughout the years, and what happens to the first and second generation’s search for ethnic identity. These individuals find themselves between two worlds, some undergo acculturation and assimilation, while others find ways to reclaim their roots. Furthermore, social factors, such as gender, age and class will be considered when exploring this quest for identity and relating Berea College history to this broader context. In this class, we will carefully examine various sources (e.g., books, articles, editorials, videos, etc.) to rifle through the different trends of immigrants to the United States, and gain an understanding of what it means to be part of a multicultural/multiracial society. At the end of the course, you will have gained the necessary skills and knowledge to conduct an extensive research paper that relates back to the readings and writings.
GSTR 210- deRosset, Carol: So many factors are involved in identity…and not only do we have some conception of our own identity, but we also identify others, based on markers such as gender, race, class, origin, religion, profession/occupation, politics, etc., etc., etc. We will explore different ways that humans identify themselves and others, reading various texts (primarily autobiographical writing and short stories) and writing a variety of papers, including reflections, analyses, annotated bibliographies, a research paper, and more. Students will do one oral presentation.
GSTR 210- Dickerson, Jacob: Country Music and Issues of Difference. Country music is the most popular genre of music in the United States today. Long associated with conservatism, the form is often thought of as hostile to minority populations. Contemporary acts such as Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, and Lady Antebellum have been involved in controversies concerning race, sexuality, and xenophobia. However, the genre’s roots are tightly interwoven with the music of marginalized populations in central and southern Appalachia. This course examines how issues of difference, particularly those of race, sexuality, and gender, have been dealt with throughout the history of country music from the genre’s beginnings in 19th-century folk music and the “hillbilly records” of the early 20th century through today. Students will learn to critically engage with a variety of forms of country music, including folk, blues, bluegrass, and honky-tonk. They will read both scholarly and popular works on country music in order to gain insight into the history of the genre and both the presence and absence of minority voices in its development.
GSTR 210- Doherty, Meghan: Representing Cultures. This section will examine issues of identity and diversity through the lens of representation. With readings and writing assignments, we will explore the history of Appalachia and Berea College through different attempts to visually represent our history. Broken into three units, the course will explore 1) the installation of Berea College Presidential Portraits, 2) recent controversies surrounding public monuments to historical figures, and 3) Berea College’s role in collecting and establishing the past, present, and future of the region.
GSTR 210- Feagan, Beth: In our own words: exploring identity. How do you write a long research paper? At the last minute? Under great stress? With much anxiety? This class will give you the tools you need to break up big, overwhelming research projects into bite-sized chunks. In this class, we’ll explore issues of identity and diversity by reading, discussing, and writing about peoples’ accounts of their lives. Personal essays and memoirs are more popular than ever in America because we are hungry for true stories. We’ll examine the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, bell hooks’s Bone Black, Diane Guerrero’s In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, Joy Harjo’s Crazy Brave, Daisy Hernandez’s A Cup of Water Under My Bed, and Mary Matsuda Gruenewald’s Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps, as well as various personal essays. We’ll look for the ways race, class, gender, sexuality, and regional identity intersect in these works, after beginning the semester with an historical text by Jacqueline Battalora entitled Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today. Dr. Battalora’s book will provide the foundation for our conversations. You’ll also interview someone significant in your life, and we’ll reflect on what it means to have the chance to tell your story in your own words. In a culture that alienates and marginalizes entire groups of people, preserving these voices is an act of resistance. By the end of the semester, you will have written short contemplative pieces on your life, the life of someone important to you, and the narratives and memoirs. Most importantly, you will have learned how to write a longer, more sustained research paper in a systematic, thoughtful way.
GSTR 210- Gift, Nancy: What does a farmer look like? Why are women on farms usually called gardeners or farm wives, and why are our images of farmers almost universally white? We will explore the history of African American farmers, the increased visibility of women in agriculture, alongside the history of the Berea college farm. Student research papers may explore food access, land access, the role of lending biases, and historical changes in public perceptions of farmers.
GSTR 210- Gowler, Steve: American Dreams–Opportunity, Freedom, Upward Mobility, and Democracy. We will examine American social, political and economic aspirations, with special emphasis on those whose race, gender, class, or sexual orientation have placed them at the margins of society. The way such aspirations have shaped the history of Berea College will also be addressed. In addition to such foundational documents as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and selected addresses of American presidents and other public figures, we will read and discuss John Cullen’s The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation; Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle: A Memoir, and Class Matters, a collection of essays by New York Times correspondents. Our discussions will also be informed by films such as Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Times of Harvey Milk.
GSTR 210- Greenlee, Gale: “I, Too, Am America.” This section will explore various conceptions and experiences of American identity and citizenship. We will focus on themes of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, coming-of-age and to America, dislocation, borders, and language in order to investigate how America and Americans have been defined and constructed, historically and narratively. To that end, we’ll scrutinize a range of literary and cultural texts including memoirs, fiction, poetry, and personal essays by Black, Asian American, Native, and Latinx writers. Given Berea’s unique history and our location in Appalachia, the course will also incorporate material related to the stories of “Affilachians” and other marginalized communities in the region. As with all GSTR 2010 courses, this class will give you the tools you need to break up big, overwhelming research assignments into smaller, manageable chunks. Students will walk away with stronger research, writing, and analytical skills as evidenced by the final research project.
GSTR 210- Hayes, Vicky: Sing Me Back Home: How Music Shaped Regional Identity. The story of identity and diversity in Appalachia and the South is poignantly told through the lives and creative work of regional singer/songwriters of the twentieth century. This course views issues of identity and class struggle by exploring the biographies and the social themes found in the recordings of influential country and blues artists against the backdrop of Appalachian history (early 1900s through the 1960s). From traditional to contemporary, from the obscure to the mainstream, these passionate artists own and own-up to the Appalachian experience. Students will be asked to read widely from memoir and biography, to explore historical context, to analyze techniques and subject matter in lyrics from diverse genres, both rural and urban, and to use their research to expand our knowledge of how the music brought the Appalachian struggle into the American experience.
GSTR 210- Heyrman, John: America Imprisoned. Well over two million Americans are in federal or state prisons or county jails in the Unites States. This section will take that fact as its starting point and consider the course themes of race, sex, class, and Appalachia as they intersect with the criminal justice system in the U.S. The course will consider both causes and effects of the vast number of American in jail, including issues such as the war on drugs to the disenfranchisement of ex-felons. The class as a whole will pick a few specific topics among these broad issues to research and debate.
GSTR 210- Hill-Zuganelli, Dee: Kinship, Solidarity, and Social Change. This section will expand our understanding of “kinship” in the family sciences to consider how families and communities bond with each other in working toward social change. This entails rethinking kinship as a series of fundamental themes: love, need, obligation, struggle, and sacrifice. The establishment of Berea College, the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, and the recovery of opportunity in the Appalachian region serve as historical markers for developing these themes and their significance. Students should be prepared to read selections from the course reader alongside primary source material, write responses, and organize a research project around a kinship theme of their choice.
GSTR 210- Howard, Jason: Exile in American Literature. Exile is a significant part of the human experience, cutting across lines of race, class, gender, geography, sexuality, and religion. In many ways, we are all exiles, compelled or forced to leave our homes for a variety of reasons. People in exile have fled from political and religious persecution, from war and famine. Many are misfits in their families or communities—artists or scholars who have never quite fit in with the culture in which they were born. Some have found themselves separated from their families on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or political views. Others have been shunned based on their race, class, and/or gender. In this course, students will analyze the experience of exile and displacement in American literature, considering the many ways in which one can be an exile; how our art, religion, politics, and culture are so often rooted in exile; and what we can learn from this condition. As this is a literature-focused course, students should expect a significant amount of reading, including essays, memoirs, stories, and novels by writers including Dorothy Allison, James Baldwin, Sarah Broom, bell hooks, Silas House, Neela Vaswani, and others.
GSTR 210- Huck, Dan: Myths of American Leadership: How Movements Have Changed the American Experience. Much of how we traditionally learn about American History revolves around cultural myths about leadership. We come to believe that certain “great men” have controlled the dynamics of the American Experience, while most “average” citizens of the United States have simply followed the directions set by such “leaders”. Our section of GSTR 210 will challenge this received historical paradigm of top-down leadership. To the contrary, we probe substantial evidence that in fact bottom-up “movements” of ordinary people have been the primary motivating force behind American history. As part of that effort, we examine the realities and contradictions of leaders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Hilary Clinton. We study in depth key movements within the American Experience, including the Abolitionist Movement, the Women’s Movement (both suffragist and modern feminist), and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. We also bring to light often-overlooked and forgotten contributions to these movements by individuals like Maria Stewart, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, Alice Paul, Fannie Lou Hamer, Charles Sherrod, and Gloria Steinem.
GSTR 210- Mack, Felicia: Exploring historical and present themes in Appalachia: A Collaborative Approach. This course is designed to build upon the reasoning, writing, research, and learning emphasis of GSTR 110. Along with exploring the story of Berea College and events connected to its existence, like slavery and the civil rights movement, the course will examine through an interdisciplinary lens topics such as culture, education, health, and the economy of the Appalachian region. GSTR 210 involves explicit, continuing attention to writing, reasoning, research, and reflective engagement with various forms of primary and secondary texts, including instruction in the writing process which includes the term paper proposal, annotated bibliography, term paper drafts, and the production of one research paper. In this section of GSTR 210, students will be placed in groups and group members will collaboratively work towards the development of and research for the 210 paper. In order to alleviate some student angst that may be experienced while writing a paper, the assignment will be divided into several sections that will be worked on throughout the term.
GSTR 210- McDonald, Verlaine: Berea: Bubble and/or Microcosm? For more than a decade, the phrase “Berea Bubble” has been used to signify that there is something uniquely insulating–or perhaps insular–about our community. It implies that our bubble is different than the rest of the world. This section of GSTR 210 will examine whether Berea is a bubble, a microcosm, or some combination of the two. Specifically, we will consider our perceptions and experiences of race, gender, class, sexual orientation and the Appalachian region as we engage in discussion, writing, research and reflective engagement with texts. Students will be led through a step-by-step process in order to produce a research paper and will also complete public speaking and debate assignments.
GSTR 210- McGaha, Cindy: Growin’ Up Appalachian. Through the lens of childhood, we will investigate the realities of race, gender, and class in Appalachia. Both historical and modern depictions and descriptions (both in print and film) of Appalachian childhood will be examined to clarify how childhood unfolds for children in Appalachia today. The Berea story will figure heavily in helping us to frame our image of the children of Appalachia as powerful, competent beings. Students will engage in reading, reflecting, discussing, and writing about their personal images of children/childhood, as well as the images of others. Over the course of the semester, students will learn strategies for research and writing that will culminate in a final presentation and research paper.
GSTR 210- McKee, Lauren: The American Dream: Myth or Reality? The Berea story is essentially about people who dreamt of creating a place where everyone, equally, could have access to resources that would better their lives. In this way, the Berea story fundamentally embodies the idea of the American Dream, that every American citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success through hard work, determination, and initiative. The idea of the American Dream is iconic, but is it real? Has it ever been real? Is the American Dream more attainable for some groups than for others? Where did this idea come from?
This section of 210 will examine the origins and development of the concept of the American Dream through reading historical documents like the Declaration of Independence, narratives from immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, and transcripts of Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats. We’ll then examine to what extent different groups have been able to realize this dream; for example, we’ll focus on the experiences of early Asian immigrants to this country, income inequality in the U.S, and the various rights movements of the 1960s.
The goal is to be able to analytically link the historical context of the pursuit of the American Dream to the current outlooks for these various groups. We will do this through the examination of various texts and mediums, class discussions, and the building of a research project. Ultimately, we will seek to discover whether the American Dream is still, or was ever, alive.
GSTR 210- McKiernan Gonzalez, Eileen: Art and Identity in America. The complex history of race and gender in post-colonial United States has had a deep effect on the visual arts. Representation of others, representation of the self has complex histories related to identity, whether it be racial, ethnic, cultural, regional, class, or gender. We will begin by looking at representation of peoples of non-European ancestry in the 19th century, barriers to the academy, and abolitionist art. We will move to consider in particular the art of those who are outside of the “mainstream” of American art, in particular African American artists, and also Native American, Latinx, and Asian American artists. We will consider how these artists interact with Eurocentric models and seek sources in the Global South.
GSTR 210- Mendel-Reyes, Meta: My Life Matters: Memoirs by People of Color. Telling your own story matters, especially when your voice has been silenced and your life has been made invisible or distorted by others. For many people of color, memoir has been a way to reclaim their personal stories and challenge the dominant narrative of whiteness. For instance, Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, has written a memoir, When They Call You A Terrorist, that reclaims her story from the powerful and privileged who denigrate it as “terrorism.” In this section of “Writing Seminar II: Identity and Diversity in the United States,” we listen to and research the stories that people of color tell about themselves, in their own words. Our written texts range from slave narratives to immigrant lives; the authors include African Americans, Latinx, and Asians, and their intersectional identities. We will also consider different genres of memoir such as video, music, and public art. As a writing seminar, this course also focuses on acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to write an excellent argumentative research paper; regardless of your major, the ability to write a paper that uses research to answer a critical question and persuade the reader is essential to your academic success. The class culminates in a student-organized, multimedia presentation to the campus on memoirs by people of color (students will choose the format – it could be a panel, a public art installation, a video, a podcast, or another type of presentation, or some combination of these).
GSTR 210- Ortquist-Ahrens, Leslie: Great Migrations. In this section, we’ll look at two massive 20th-century movements of people that profoundly shaped U.S. cultural, social, and political history, the “Great Migration” of African Americans from the South and the “Outmigration” of people from Appalachia. We’ll consider what these events had and have to do with the course’s broad themes of identity and diversity in the U.S. We’ll also explore what the transition of moving can mean for an individual’s sense of identity, how migrations can affect communities, and how people relate in powerful ways to place. In addition to learning about the migrations through fiction, films, scholarly work, oral histories and more, students will practice generating productive questions, engaging in research, sharing what they learn with each other first in class, and, finally, in a documented research paper and a presentation.
GSTR 210- Phelps, Shannon: Identity, Commitments, and Community. In this section students will explore their own personal identity through the lenses and intersections of race, gender, place, and class while examining the identity of Berea College through its Great Commitments. With critical consideration, students will clarify their values and beliefs and examine their behaviors in relation to these identities and determine how these serve to benefit and/or compromise their sense of well-being, belonging, and connectedness. Alongside investigations of the personal, students will consider how The Great Commitments may promote and/or compromise a sense of well-being, belonging, and connectedness among the members of the Berea College community.
GSTR 210- Sergent, Tyler: Everybody likes a good story. And Appalachia is full of good stories, told and retold through generations. This includes our own Berea story. The theme for our section is Oral Culture: oral history, storytelling, speeches, lyrics, and other possible forms of spoken word that relate directly to Berea’s history and identity, Appalachian culture, and our foci on race, class, and gender. We will study the transmission and preservation of regional, institutional, and personal oral culture, and apply critical thinking skills in accessing, listening to, transcribing, and analyzing oral sources in order to understand better their significance for Berea College, Appalachian culture, society, and activism.
GSTR 210- Seroka, Laura: Destination Berea. Both Berea College and the larger town are committed to sustainability and conservation efforts drawing many “ecotourists” to the area each year, earning designations from the Arbor Day Foundation, and drawing donor/grant support, yet there are many interpretations of what “sustainability” and “conservation” look like. This course explores Berea and the history of conservation, sustainability, ecotourism, public outreach, and marketing as an “environmental destination”. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on their own identification with the environment and ways in which race, age, class, and gender may alter their views about the environment. In addition, students will learn valuable skills in finding helpful and credible sources, analyzing texts, critically thinking about conflicting viewpoints, and applying those skills to investigate environmental policies, laws, and marketing related to our local community. Students will conduct interviews, analyze the responses, and tie the findings back into research related to their topic.
GSTR 210- Sowers, Nancy: Living the American Dream—Understanding how the past shapes the future and our fortunes. The right to attain the American Dream with hard work and persistence has almost become a part of our DNA in America. Waves of immigrants flooded our borders in the last 200 years with little more than the clothes on their backs, and within a generation, were succeeding here. Is this promise still accessible or are the opportunities and prizes that go with them more ephemeral than ever before? In a campaign speech in 1928, Herbert Hoover promised citizens “a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage.” A year later the economy found itself in the midst of the Great Depression. The tensions between Wall Street and Main Street following the most recent economic crisis in 2008 underlie many of the challenges that young people face today as they seek fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. In this class, we will use Berea College’s heritage of economic justice and history to explore the ways that race, gender, class, and Appalachian perspectives may impact the pursuit of the American Dream. Through a research project, students will explore how background interacts with opportunity to influence the future, with an eye to navigating towards that dream.
GSTR 210- Strange, Jason: This course is about two things: how to write a research essay, and understanding inequality in the United States. Luckily, these two tasks are related. Inequality in the US is extreme and damaging, but it is also subtle – it cannot be understood without reading some of the best research-based writing available. For example, many people think that class is not important in the US. Careful research shows that this common idea is wrong. Many people think that humans come in distinct biological races. Again, research shows that this is untrue. Another common myth is that struggles for justice have been led by famous heroes, like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mohandas Gandhi. Researchers have found that these struggles have been created mostly by ordinary people – and that these people arm themselves for that struggle by learning how to write well, speak in public, and do research. Writing a research paper might be boring, it might keep you up all night, it might make you sweat – but it will also change your life.
GSTR 210- Sturgis, Amy: Before Berea: Indigeneity, Appalachia, and Activism. Long before Berea College existed, the land Berea now occupies was home to Indigenous nations with their own understandings of gender, race, and class. After the U.S. founding and Kentucky statehood, one of these peoples, the Shawnee Nation, produced Tecumseh, whose 19th-century pan-tribal alliance spanned the continent of North America and built a new sense of common identity for Indigenous Americans. Later 20th- and 21st-century activism for Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty reveals not only the spirit of Tecumseh’s alliance, but also strong ties to and parallels with other U.S. movements such as those for civil rights and women’s rights.
In this course, we will discuss the past and present-day experience of Indigenous Americans–particularly those belonging to nations from this area of Appalachia (such as the Shawnees and Cherokees)–through historical records and their own contemporary voices in order to trace a history of activism and explore ideas of gender, race, and class.
GSTR 210- Summers, Louisa: A Berea History of Athletics and Sports. From its beginnings, Berea College has attempted to wrestle with the issues of racism, gender bias, regionalism, and classism in the Southern United States. This course examines how issues of difference, particularly those of race, and gender, have been dealt with by tracing the history of Berea College Athletics and Sports. Students will examine these themes using the lens of Berea College’s history to compare our history with that of other institutions in the Appalachian region, our nation, and in other countries. Students will examine athletics history before and after the Day Law and Title IX. As with all GSTR 210 sections, this course will develop the reasoning, writing, and research components from GSTR 110, culminating in a major research project and presentation.
GSTR 210- Webb, Althea: Emerging Adulthood and the College Experience. This course provides and in-depth study of the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional growth of the emerging adult during the transition period of the college years. We will examine the college experience across a number of dimensions, including culture, ethnicity/race, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. We will also explore the contexts of the higher education institutional environment (e.g., community college, private, public, and/or elite institution) that influence development. Throughout the course, we will relate theory and research to practical concerns and current events. We will connect academic research on emerging adults to the lived experiences of young people today. Students will link the theoretical to the practical by conducting an interview with an individual who attended college in order to write a research paper on a selected topic related to course content. Students will need to interpret the interview responses based on research articles and explain how the responses are/are not supported by the research articles.
GSTR 210: Wong, Penelope: Who am I? What does it mean to be an “American”? An individual of the United States? How would I define myself? Which identities would I claim? If these questions are of interest to you, this 210 course section might be of interest to you. Through examining personal memoirs, essays and narratives we’ll be examining our identities and the ways in which race, class, gender, sexuality and other identities intersect. We will use the tools of reading and writing to answer these and other questions as we explore our identities.
How does one complete a long research paper? At the last minute? Under great stress? With much anxiety? This class will give you the tools you need to break up big, overwhelming research projects into bite-sized chunks. In completing a research paper, course participants will see how writing to learn about a topic can be combined with learning how to write, and most importantly, you will have learned how to write a longer, more sustained research paper in a systematic, thoughtful way.
GSTR 210- Wyrick, Amanda: Health Disparities in America. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, health disparities are preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations. Health disparities are inequitable and are directly related to the historical and current unequal distribution of social, political, economic, and environmental resources. This course will specifically examine how unequal distribution of resources impacts mental and physical health outcomes based on race, class, gender, and region. Students will take a closer look at their own culture of Berea College and how health disparities have been and continue to be prevalent in our region and on our campus. In addition to the final research paper, students will be expected to actively participate in class discussions and engage in reflective writing exercises based on our work with various texts, documentaries, and regional health professionals.