Summer 2004
Fully Enrolled

Everyday Forms of Resistance


06/28/2004 - 08/11/2004
Tuesday & Thursday 09:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Public Affairs Center 421

Much of the attention in contemporary American politics is given to mainstream forms of political behavior like voting or to elite institutions such as the legislature. The goal of this course is to expose students to politics that often falls just below the lens of American politics in which ordinary citizens forge new ways to address the political system when for various reasons mainstream political participation is not available. These kinds of activities include social movements and everyday forms of resistance. To gain a better understanding of why, how, and when ordinarily quiescent masses come together to impact the political process, we will analyze slave narratives, social movement theory, popular culture mediums such as music and films, as well as what has been called the hidden transcript. James Scott defines the hidden transcript as those activities that happen just beyond public visibility that oppressed groups use to deflect, survive, and reject the demands of the powerful.

We will answer questions such as how social movements are organized and what the factors are that serve as catalysts for the birth of social movements. When the political opportunity structure is not open to social movement behavior, how do oppressed groups find more hidden and subversive ways to create a safe political space? What roles have music, film, and art played in organizing political groups? What do members of oppressed groups say about their treatment by the powerful in their private spaces such as journals, diaries, and folk tales? All of these questions allow us study politics as it is, in the words of Micheal Parenti, "viewed from the bottom."

The reading list will evolve once the interests and prior knowledge of the students are assessed. The course will also employ the use of documentaries, speeches and popular films that illustrate popular social movements and other efforts by ordinary citizens to influence and ultimately change the political system. Primary texts include Saul Alinsky, RULES FOR RADICALS A PRAGMATICS PRIMER FOR REALIST RADICALS; Anthony Grooms, BOMBINGHAM; Clarissa Hayward, DE-FACING POWER; Laura Kaplan, THE STOR OF JANE: THE LEGENDARY UNDERGROUND FEMINIST ABORTION SERVICE; Barbara Ransby, ELLA BAKER AND THE BLACK FREEDOM MOVEMENT: A RADICAL DEMOCRATIC VISION; James Scott, DOMINATION AND THE ARTS OF RESISTANCE; Bob Dylan, THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT CELEBRATION (CD); VOICES OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT: BLACK AMERICAN FREEDOM SONGS 1960-1966 (CD); WHEN BILLY BROKE HIS HEAD AND OTHER TALES OF WONDER (documentary); and REMEMBERING JIM CROW: AFRICAN AMERICANS TELL ABOUT LIFE IN THE SEGREGATED SOUTH(CD); SOUND AND FURY(documentary).

Students will be responsible for three writing assignments (two reaction papers and a participant observation paper) and a take-home final.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Melanye Price (B.A. Prairie View A&M University; M. A., Ph.D. The Ohio State University) is assistant professor of government at Wesleyan University. Melanye Price completed her B.A. in geography with a political science minor and her M.A. and Ph.D. in political science with a specialty in the field of American politics. Her dissertation, Warring Souls, Reconciling Beliefs: Unearthing the Contours of African American Ideology, examined ideology formation among African Americans which attempted to link major ideological cleavages in traditional African American political thought with contemporary public opinion. Her next project turns to examining the intergenerational transmission of beliefs and opinion about race and appropriate political strategies among African Americans. She has research and teaching interests in public opinion, Black politics, social movements and political psychology. Click here for more information about Melanye Price.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Saul Alinsky, RULES FOR RADICALS (Vintage Books), Paperback

Anthony Grooms, BOMBINGHAM (Ballantine Books), Paperback

Clarissa Rile Hayward, DE-FACING POWER (Cambridge University Press), Paperback

Laura Kaplan, THE STORY OF JANE (University of Chicago Press), Paperback

Barbara Ransby, ELLA BAKER AND THE BLACK FREEDOM MOVEMENT (University of North Carolina Press), Paperback

James Scott, DOMINATION AND THE ART OF RESISTANCE (Yale University Press), Paperback


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