ILS 4310                                                               Ken Harmon
(De)Constructing Race                                      [email protected]
Section 1: MW 12:30-1:45  ACAD 431              Office: Suite 530, Gateway Center
Contact Hours: 45                                              Office Hours: MW 12:40-1:40
4.5 Credit Hours                                                                         & by appointment
Spring 2022  

Welcome to ILS 4320:  (De)Constructing Race: Otherness & The Body in American Film

This syllabus contains the policies and expectations established for this course that are intended to create a productive learning atmosphere for all students. Students should read the entire syllabus carefully and understand that they will be expected to fully abide by these policies and expectations.

ABOUT INTEGRATIVE LEARNING: Integrative Learning is the ability to develop skills, experiences and conceptual understanding in one discipline and connect, synthesize and relevantly apply these components in new situations. It is demonstrated in the ability to evaluate diverse perspectives and interpret issues contextually.

COURSE DESCRIPTION:This course will examine the body as a site of the social construction of race, and through an historical approach to American film we will attempt to understand race's intersectional relationship with gender, class, and sexual identity through a presentation of otherness as collective social anxieties related to a changing social, political, and economic landscape. We will use the metaphor of the monstrous “other” body as a method to deconstruct these anxieties in the historical moment of the appearance of each film. Through various methods of intellectual inquiry (history, science, the social sciences, cultural studies, art, psychology, and philosophy) , the course identifies the key parameters of the racialization of institutional racism and how various groups in the United States were raced into a color and asks students to think about why race matters within educational, economic, political and social institutions as well as its artistic cultural expressions. 

The content of this course will aide you in developing competence in communication, critical and creative thinking, and the ability to evaluate, integrate, and apply knowledge from multiple perspectives when making decisions and solving problems. This is also an attempt to develop an awareness of ethical responsibility and cultural/ global diversity, to live and work collaboratively as contributing members of society all of which are guiding principals of the university mission statement.

NOTE:  This is a reading and writing intensive course.


Ferris, Emil. My Favorite Thing is Monsters. Fantagraphics, 2017. ISBN: 978-1606999592

Other course readings are available in Ulearn and can be found at the "Course Readings" link or linked from the course schedule page.

Each of the follow films/videos will not be provided in class.  You are responsible for renting and viewing these at,, or Netflix:

  •  Watch Race: The Power of an Illusion (Episode 2, "The Story We Tell," PBS, Available for rent on Vimeo, Rental fee of $2.99

  • Watch ONE of the following: The Color Purple (Stephen Spielberg, 1985) on Amazon, Mudbound (Dee Rees, 2017) on Netflix, Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012) on Amazon, or Twelve Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013); ​all Amazon movies, $3.99

  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Stanley Kramer, 1967) on Amazon, rent $3.99

  • Watch Planet of the Apes (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968) on Amazon​, rent $3.99

  • Watch Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler, 2013)​ on Amazon; rent $1.99

  • Watch Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018) on Amazon prime $2.99 (Standard) or $3.99 (HD)

The following films will be shown in class:

Race: The Power of an Illusion (Episode 1, "The Difference Between Us," PBS)
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee,1989)
"Black Museum" (Black Mirror episode from 2017, Colm McCarthy) 
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)


Upon satisfactory completion of this course, a student should have the ability to:

1.Apply different disciplinary, methodological, and interpretive approaches to the study of the color of race as well as its intersections with gender, class, and sexual identity;
2.Describe how theories of science were interwoven and intertwined in the social sciences and humanities to create meaning and definitions for the color of race and its other intersectional possibilities.
3.Compare and contrast how various methodologies are employed in the sciences and social sciences to measure the color of race
4.Evaluate various scientific, social science, and humanistic antecedents of the color of race and the effects they have on individual and cultural perceptions of the color of race
5.Critically analyze and re-frame various approaches to how the color of race has been constructed and to develop strategies for deconstructing ideas about its multi-faceted relationship with gender, class, and sexual identity.
6.To develop a vocabulary and analytical skills that will allow one to discuss a film within technical and cultural contexts.


Students will:  

  •   Attend class meetings and complete all reading, writing, and editing assignments.

  •   Read extensively critical essays by peers and experienced writers with attention to audience, purpose, tone, style, grammar, and punctuation.

  •   Complete daily blog entries 

  •   Actively participate in daily reading and film viewing discussion groups. 

  •   Complete homework as specified during the term. Homework may include exercises, shorter writing assignments, and other work that develops writing skills. Students should expect to write during or after every class. Students will be expected to participate in collaborative activities and class discussions and listen to lectures.

  •   Demonstrate competence in basic grammar, punctuation, mechanics, sentence structure, paraphrasing, and essay writing as defined through class lecture, model writings, practice, and rubrics.

  •   All written work is to be typed, including most in-class writing. All paper assignments will be covered in detail well before they are due. All papers must be typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman font, 12pt., with 1” borders on top, sides, and bottom according to MLA format.

  • Each major written assignment will include planning, drafting, revising., editing, and reflection. You are responsible for turning in all materials related to an assignment. This includes: invention strategies, draft versions, peer critiques, SmartThinking report & revision plan, a final version, and a reflection. Failure to submit any step of this writing process by the due date will affect your grade.

You must complete all major writing assignments in order to pass the course. Failure to complete any of the required assignments will result in a final course grade of F.


The following assignments will be graded. You can accumulate 400 points, which are distributed as follows:

Blog Entries                          10%            (40 pts, 10@ 4pts. ea.)
Reader Responses               20%           (80 pts., 8 @ 10 pts.ea.)
Discussion Boards                  5%            (20 pts., 2 @ 10 pts. ea)
Annotations                             5%            (20 pts., 4 @ 5 pts.ea.)

PAPERS (60%)
Essay 1                                 10%            (40 pts.)
Essay 2                                 20%            (80 pts.)
Annotated Bibliography           5%            (20 pts.)
Essay 3 (Group)                    15%            (60 pts.)
Portfolio                                 10%            (40 pts.)

 NOTE: Any student that has an A or B average at the beginning of week 9 may opt NOT to take the final exam.

Final Grades:                       

360 - 400 A

320 - 359 B

280 - 319 C

240 - 279 D

  0 - 239 F

Official academic grades can be accessed via jwuLink. Grades maintained in the Ulearn course management system are for tracking purposes only and may not reflect all of the criteria considered with calculating a student's final grade.


Taking classes is your job here at the university. Thus, you should treat the work and requirements accordingly. In the workplace things such as absences, tardiness, and not doing your work properly have negative consequences. This is the case in my class as well. Many students’ low grades are a result of not following directions or policies as well as not expending enough effort. It is your responsibility to be aware of the policies on this syllabus. If you miss class it is your responsibility to check with your classmates to find out what you have missed. And though you are always welcome to follow up with me if you are absent, do not ask me if you “missed anything important.”

Your grade is dependent on a number of factors that, together and holistically, inform the evaluation and assessment of your performance. In summary, these criteria include attendance, participation, reading responses/journal entries, reading quizzes, discussion questions, a presentation, and the successful completion of any other reading and written assignments.

Note: The reading load is quite heavy and the pace fast. Also, because writing is a means of discovery and a pathway to understanding, it is an important activity in this class in conjunction with the reading. Indeed, you should think of your writing as a mode of reading that will help you begin to understand the literature at hand. When essays, journals, and in-class assignments are considered together you will be doing some kind of writing assignment every week. Be prepared to spend much time carefully reading, considering, discussing, and writing about the texts in the course. If you cannot devote the time necessary to keep up with the assignments, and to do so in a critical manner, you will not do well in this class and may want to consider if this is the right class for you.

PLAGIARISM: All course assignments ask you to write using what you have learned in the course and using your own thinking and writing skills. If you use any ideas, paraphrases, or exact wording from a source other than yourself (including the textbook), you must document the source using MLA parenthetical documentation style (see handbook or ask instructor). Any source used but not documented will be considered plagiarism, for which you will receive a failing grade for the course. You might also be placed on probation or expelled from the university. If you have any questions about plagiarism, ask before you act. Ask me; see Best Practices for Avoiding Plagiarism.


A. Plagiarism, a SERIOUS, academic violation, which can lead to an F for the course, is the use of WORDS, IDEAS, or STRUCTURES of others (published sources, friends, relatives) without acknowledgment. There is no excuse for willful plagiarism.
B. Except where appropriate (quoting or paraphrasing from primary or secondary sources), your work is presumed to be totally your own writing (i.e. original).
C. When you QUOTE OR PARAPHRASE FROM ANY sources, you MUST cite them with appropriate specific documentation (usually author and page number in parentheses + Works Cited list at end). This includes subject matter of the essay. If you quote or paraphrase precisely from a work of literature, you must cite the author of that work.  
D. If you do not understand the format for documenting sources, see me for help before turning in an essay. Refer to your handbook for further clarification.

TURNITIN.COM: All major essays written for this course must be submitted electronically to no later than classtime on the date that an assignment is due. Essays that are not uploaded to will not be accepted. 

SMARTTHINKING TUTOR: Students are required to submit each draft of an essay assignment to the Smartthinking tutor a total of two times per essay for feedback and are expected to use that information to revise each essay assignment. If a student fails to do so, they will lose one letter grade per each assignment not submitted to the tutor. See the SmartThinking link in Ulearn for submission details.

SUBMITTING COURSE ASSIGNMENTS:  You are required to electronically submit all assignments to Ulearn or a blog for this course. Assignments not submitted in the manner will not be accepted.  Any items sent by email will be deleted and ungraded.

ATTENDANCE: Students are expected to attend all classes and earn credit for complete classes and in-class assignments. You are allowed two absences (excused or unexcused) without penalty. Five absences (excused or unexcused) will result in automatic failure. If you do not attend a student conference, you will be considered absent. After two absences your final grade for the semester will be reduced as shown.
You are responsible for tracking your absences.

Absences                             Points deducted from final grade
  3                                                                 40

  4                                                                 100

  5                                                                 200


It is the student’s responsibility to initiate procedures leading to a formal withdrawal (“W") in order to avoid a failing (“F”) grade. To receive a W grade, a student must withdraw prior to March 18, 2022.

TARDIES: If a student is more than 10 minutes late for class or leaves more than 10 minutes before class is over, they are counted absent for the day. 

ETIQUETTE: Students are expected to respect their classmates’ time and learning environment. Therefore, show up for class prepared and on time. ALL CELL PHONES SHOULD BE SET TO SILENT BEFORE ENTERING THE CLASSROOM. Each time a cell phone disrupts class the entire class will take a pop quiz. Also, if a student leaves the classroom to answer a call, they will be counted absent for the day and not allowed back in the classroom that day. Other disruptive classroom behavior, defined as anything that would interfere with “an instructor’s ability to conduct the class” or “The ability of other students to profit from the instructional program,” is strictly prohibited. This includes texting while the professor is lecturing or during group work when students should be focused on completing the task at hand.


NOTE: Persons other than registered students are not allowed to attend academic sessions, laboratory classes, computer labs, and other University academically supported areas.

LATE PAPER/ASSIGNMENT POLICY: Turn in all your assignments on their scheduled due dates. You must submit the final drafts of all essays and their associated process work (critique, reflection, etc.) in Blackboard. NO PROCESS, NO GRADE. Keep a duplicate copy of all assignments you turn in and save all of your files in several locations (flash drive, hard drive, email, etc.). I DO NOT ACCEPT LATE PAPERS.

REVISION: You may rewrite one failing essay (original grade of D or F); the rewritten essay may receive no higher than a “C.” Revision must accompany the original graded copy.

GRADED ESSAYS: All essays for this course are graded electronically. Please see the Turnitin Grademark Feedback video for instructions to obtain the comments and grading rubric for your essay. 

STUDENT E-MAIL: Students are required to obtain and use a JWU e-mail account for University communication and to access my public folders. You must obtain your password to do so. Student accounts are created automatically for those who are active and in good standing. Student email addresses are available through Immediately contact the helpdesk at 1-866-598-4357 if you need assistance. Take care of this the first day of class. Students are expected to maintain an email account throughout the semester and check it daily for important information regarding upcoming assignments, course announcements, etc.

IN-CLASS ASSIGNMENTS: Students will often complete in-class assignments and short writing projects. In-class projects and quizzes are team-based and scheduled for a specific class period and cannot be made up after that class date.

WORKSHOPS: All essays will be critiqued by peer groups in class. Students that do not complete a peer critique for a partner will lose one full letter grade on the final score for that essay assignment.

PARTICIPATION: Come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings. Contribute productively to discussion. Quizzes and in-class writings are usually based on the readings.


WRITING CENTER: Located in the ACE Center (Gateway Village, Suite 160, behind the bookstore) the writing center is open to all Johnson & Wales University students who need help with writing, whether they are taking an English course or not. Students are encouraged to seek assistance with essays, research projects, and related assignments. Students are asked to make an appointment with a Writing Center staff member in order to receive prompt assistance. The center provides 30 minute appointments and is staffed from 8:30-2:30 M-R. Consultants work with students on any part of the writing process -- planning, drafting, focusing, organizing, revising, or editing, and with papers from all disciplines. Please do not hesitate to use the tutor’s assistance. Remember to bring a copy of your assignment and your drafts to any Writing Center conference.
Going to the Writing Center does not guarantee you a good grade because tutors will not proofread your papers. The Writing Center’s goal is to improve your overall writing skills (organization, thesis & supporting paragraphs, audience/assignment issues, as well as teaching punctuation and grammar rules after reviewing big picture issues), which sometimes takes several sessions, depending on your existing writing skills. For more information, you may contact them at [email protected]

ACCOMMODATIONS: Johnson & Wales University is dedicated to providing access to education. While maintaining the highest academic integrity, the University strives to balance scholarship with support services which will assist special needs students in functioning in the University's academic environment. Reasonable accommodations are available with proper documentation, and can be discussed with the director of The Center For Academic Support (ACE Center, Gateway Village, Suite 160).
Because some programs of study have technical standards and requirements, applicants and students with special needs or physical disabilities should contact the director of the Center for Academic Support to discuss the availability of reasonable accommodations where appropriate. Copies of the technical standards applicable to various programs are available from this office. Once you have arranged accommodations with this office, please tell me so that I am aware of your accommodations well before the first paper/assignment.

Some Final Thoughts:

“Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.”
-Brenda Ueland

“Follow your curiosity and passion. What fascinates you will probably fascinate others.”
-Diane Ackerman

“A writer… is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things.”
-William Stafford

“Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what one is saying.”
  -John Updike

“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops people from writing, not lack of talent, whatever that is…You’re a human being, with a unique story to tell, and you have every right. If you speak with passion, many of us will listen. We need stories to live, all of us. We live by story. Yours enlarges the circle.”
-Richard Rhodes

All students are required to read, understand, and abide by the provisions of the Catalog and Student Handbook applicable to their campus, which can be found at 

In particular, students should be aware of the following university policies:

General Information and Policies
Prohibited Discrimination and Harassment
University Holds

Academic Policies:
Academic Integrity/Academic Integrity Review Process/Turnitin Notification
Occupancy in Class
Outcomes Assessment  

Student Affairs:
Student Code of Conduct 

Student Services:
Center for Academic Support/Services/Students With Disabilities