Fiction for Social Change: Building a Shared Analysis of Justice and Community

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

Societies have always been defined and redefined by their narratives. Fiction for Social Change: Building a Shared Analysis of Justice and Community uses Binti, a science fiction fantasy novel, to explore the idea of literature as a tool for social change. Students will be asked to envision the kind of world they want to live in and encouraged to think critically about what it would take to create that world. This course will move beyond introducing students to social and political ills such as racism and sexism by providing tools and skills to develop what author and social justice activist adrienne marie brown calls - emergent strategies for justice.

This course focuses on developing a compassionate analysis of society and culture through the gaze of fiction writing. We will follow the story of Binti, a teenage girl who is the first of her people to attend the prestigious Oomza University. Written by author, Nnedi Okarafor, this science fiction fantasy novel engages themes such as home, violence, power and privilege and social pressure and hierarchy - all within the context of an extraterrestrial world. Through close readings, class discussions, examination of supplemental scholarly texts and popular culture references as well as writing prompts encouraging reflection and creativity – students will apply feminist literary critique, black feminist theory and concepts related to Afrofuturism in order to demonstrate skills in critical reading, thinking and conscious imagining.

Feminist pedagogies ask us to flatten hierarchy in the classroom allowing students to be co-constructors of knowledge production. This pedagogical framework situates the classroom as a community forum in which members of said community are asked to apply concepts learned to the self as well as the work we produce in the class. Students’ development throughout the course will be measured through: their ability to identify and discuss themes and key concepts clearly while making contemporary connections; their ability to apply methods of feminist literary critique to fictional texts; and their ability to synthesize and apply common themes discussed in the course to their own creative writing project at the end of the course. Group work, writing prompts, collective sharing and feedback are methods of engagement this course will employ.

This course is a modification of a yearlong course taught and offered by the instructors for Brown University faculty, staff and post-doctoral fellows that are interested in developing more competencies around power, privilege and navigating difference. It is designed for students that are interested in thinking, reading and writing about new worlds and new ways of being that center justice and liberation.

In this course, students will build their capacities to become more critically conscious readers, thinkers and writers. By the end of this course, students will be able to thoughtfully analyze fiction, scholarly texts and popular culture references. They will be able to identify relevant arguments, analyze real-world scenarios, identify ethical dilemmas as well as think creatively about new ways of being and engaging in community as global citizens. Students will learn how to apply analytical theoretical frameworks to their independent work.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course. We only ask that students come motivated to engage with the text, fellow classmate, the instructors and the overall course fully.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEL0928
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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