Language and Culture Institute

Salon Series

Fall 2020

Identity & Justice:

Teacher: A. Protopappas
Thursdays: 3:30-5:30 p.m. 

Our 8-week Salon Series (a true Pilates of the Mind!) will take place online this fall, starting the week of January 25 and ending on March 18. It will focus on the following theme:
Identity & Justice: Who are We as a Nation, and What Makes a Nation?
The crisis of Covid-19 sent global shock waves across nations that fundamentally altered and redefined the meaning of health, safety and freedom. By laying bare unresolved injuries from the past and exposing major fault lines in national solidarity and social cohesiveness, the rippling effects of Covid-19 have intensified national conversations about: national identity, freedom of speech, and symbols of public remembrance; the contested role of governments and the rule of law; the meaning of protection through law enforcement, the use of force and digital surveillance as well as the role of social contracts to address and counter disenfranchisement.
Using the lenses of freedom of expression, electoral systems, racial, gender and socio-economic identities, and criminal justice to name a few, we will leverage cross-cultural comparisons as effective protocols to carve “safe and brave space” and trace how varying responses to the virus have revealed different conceptions of nation and governance. 
Themes of discussion will include:
  • Speech and violence: incitement versus appeasement
  • What makes us “safe” and how to grow out of intense polarization and an assumed “clash of civilizations”?
  • US electoral system in comparative perspectives: issues of “integrity” and the resilience of disenfranchisement
  • Law enforcement versus the rule of law:  How to tame violence in America?
  • Can material reparations serve as a substitute for a broader framework of restorative justice? 
  • What makes us “safe” and how to grow out of intense polarization and an assumed “clash of civilizations”?  
  • How relevant and exportable is the concept of “white privilege” to address post-colonial and post-slavery legacies and immigrations within and outside the US?
  • US electoral system in comparative perspectives: issues of “integrity” and the resilience of disenfranchisement
  • Law enforcement versus the rule of law:  How to tame violence in America?
  • African American and homosexual exiles in Paris from Gertrude Stein to Genêt, Langston Hugues, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, among others
  • Identity & freedom of speech: The debates around “Cancel Culture” and “Islamophobia” and readings from French Algerian Kamel Daoud and Paris-based African-American Thomas Chatterton, author of Unlearning Race and critique of “Cancel Culture”
  • First Amendment conundrum: protecting the speech that we hate or protecting hate speech? Expressing respect or self-censorship?
  • What accounts for the revival of religious extremism? Globalization, geopolitics, disenfranchisement-disenchantment, and the crisis of democracy around the world
  • Truth, trust, faith & facts and the fight against Covid-19: suspicion versus rational doubt and the role of social media
  • Gender, Politics & Religion: Female political leadership (New Zealand & Taiwan’s handling of Covid-19, the US Vice-President); the French model of gender Parité; Women and secularism or laïcité
Class materials will include an interdisciplinary selection of hot-off-the press publications, films and documentaries as well as essential literary, artistic and scholarly references.     
Our Salon Series values multiple perspectives and upholds the historical tradition of disenfranchised and oppressed groups (women, African-Americans and homosexuals) who engaged in the life of the mind to fight for social recognition and universal rights.  It fulfills the threefold mission of the Culture & Language Institute: Open the mind; Transcend Prejudice; Better Understand One’s Culture through Appreciating Others.

Fees and Class Size

$530 for all participants for a 8-week cycle

Class size is limited to 20 students, and a minimum of four students is required for the class to be offered.