Speech Communication 656
Intercultural Communication

Instructor: Ben Attias
Office: SP 229
Spring 1996
Course Introduction:

This seminar offers a critical perspective on current theory and research in intercultural communication. In particular, we will focus on the growing fields of scholarship in cultural studies, critical theory, and multiculturalism, addressing this scholarship from a communication-as-discourse oriented perspective. What I mean by a "communication-as-discourse" perspective is that we will treat "communication" as an organic social phenomenon rather than as a static phenomenon of individual interaction. While I am well aware of a tradition of scholarship in intercultural communication which emphasizes the interpersonal interaction, this seminar offers itself as a critique of that tradition. We will emphasize questions and practices of "diversity" (especially involving race, class, gender, and sexuality) as they manifest in local and global contexts in the United States. The principle objective is to develop a politically informed and self-reflexive praxis in the service of reframing the study of intercultural communication.

The format of the course will be comment, presentation, response, and discussion. My comments will introduce and situate the readings, interpreting key issues in the conversation and outlining theories of culture that develop therein. Each student will be expected to deliver one formal presentation (5-7 pages) analyzing a set of readings and making an argument that intervenes creatively in the conversation. Additionally, students will be responsible for one short response (3-5 pages) to one of the presentations. Presentations and responses will begin the 4th week of class.

The course will culminate in a final project (10-12 pages) which will make a theoretical and critical intervention in the field of intercultural communication. I expect papers to address some of the key theoretical issues that arise during the semester, as well as to involve critical readings of a text, event, or issue in the student's own area of research interest. These papers will be presented in a mini-conference which will be scheduled near the end of the semester.

Required Texts:

Bill Ashcroft, et al., The Post-Colonial Studies Reader (London: Routledge, 1995)

Frantz Fanon, Black Skin White Masks (NY: Grove, 1967)

Henry A. Giroux and Peter McLaren, eds., Between Borders: Pedagogy and the Politics of Cultural Studies (NY: Routledge, 1994)

Edward W. Said, Orientalism (NY: Vintage, 1978)

Jacques Derrida, The Other Heading: Reflections on Today's Europe (Bloomington: Indiana University, 1992)

Raymond Williams, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (NY: Oxford, 1976)

656 Reader and Sourcebook, available from the Northridge Copy Center.

Syllabus: We will try to stick as close to this schedule as possible. Readings should be read before the class day on which they are assigned. Presenters will turn in their presentations the Tuesday before they are due, and will be responsible for distributing copies to their respondent. A rough draft of the presentation may be turned in a week in advance for critical feedback. Both presenters and respondents should distribute copies of their presentations to students the day they are delivered.


RDR: Reader and Sourcebook
PCS: Postcolonial Studies Reader
BB: Between Borders

Feb 1: Course Introduction. What is "culture"? What is "communication"? Why "cultural studies"?

Feb 8: "Culture" and "Cultural Studies": A History and Analysis. Epistemology and Methodology.

Ruth Benedict, "The Science of Custom" RDR
Chris Jenks, selections from Culture: Key Ideas
Cary Nelson, Paula Treichler, and Lawrence Grossberg, "Cultural Studies: An Introduction"

Feb 15 The "Administrative Mantra": Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality. Cultural Studies in Practice: Los Angeles as Text

Alexander Cockburn, "On the Rim of the Pacific Century"
Mike Davis, "Chinatown, Revisited? The 'Internationalization' of Downtown Los Angeles"
Mike Davis, "The Empty Quarter"

Feb 22: Culture, Communication, and the Question of "Race"

Marcus Garvey, "Who and What is a Negro?"
Albert Memmi, "Racism and Oppression"
Anthony Appiah, "The Uncompleted Argument: Du Bois and the Illusion of Race"
Paul Gilroy, "Steppin' Out of Babylon -- Race, Class, and Autonomy" Howard Winant, Racial Conditions Ch. 1-4.

Feb 29: Case Studies in "Race"

Winant, Ch. 5-6
Albert Memmi, "What is an Arab Jew?"
Emmanuel Sivan, "Hating the Jew as an Arab"
Jane Tompkins, "'Indians': Textualism, Morality, and the Problem of History"

Mar 7: Intercultural Communication in an International Frame I: The Colonizer and the Colonized. Psychoanalysis and Colonialism. Towards a "Postcolonial" Cultural Studies.

Albert Memmi, "On the Colonizer and the Colonized"
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

Mar 14: Intercultural Communication in an International Frame II: Orientalism

Edward Said, Orientalism Chapters 1 & 2

Mar 21: Orientalism Now and in the Future

Said, Orientalism, Chapter 3
Said, "Interview"
Lata Mani and Ruth Frankenberg, "The Challenge of Orientalism"
Emmanuel Sivan, "Edward Said and his Arab Reviewers"
Said, "Orientalism Reconsidered"

Mar 28: Postcolonialism, Cultural Studies, and Pedagogy I

Lawrence Grossberg, "Bringing it All Back Home -- Pedagogy and Cultural Studies" BB 1-28
Bell Hooks, "Eros, Eroticism, and the Pedagogical Process," BB 113-118.
Abdul R. JanMohamed, "Some Implications of Paulo Friere's Border Pedagogy," BB 242-252
Kenneth Mostern, "Decolonization as Learning: Practice and Pedagogy in Frantz Fanon's Revolutionary Narrative," BB 253-272
PCS, pp. 425-456.


Apr 11: Dreams of Black and White: Feminism and Antiracism in the African-American Context. The Question of Whiteness.

Malcolm X, "The Ballot or the Bullet"
Cornel West, "Marxist Theory and the Specificity of Afro-American Oppression"
bell hooks, Yearning, selections.
hooks, "Representing Whiteness in the Black Imagination," RDR

Apr 18: Culture, Language, Resistance: The Faltering Discourse of Race and Nation

PCS Part II, 55-82
Apr 25: "Race," "Culture," and the Deconstructive Impulse

PCS 215-218, 223-231
Derrida, The Other Heading 1-83

URLs of Interest: May 2: Feminism and Decolonization

PCS Part VIII, 249-280

May 9: Queering Cultural Studies: Gender and Sexuality in Representation

Paula A. Treichler, "AIDS, Identity, and the Politics of Gender," RDR
Douglas Crimp, "Portraits of People With AIDS," RDR
Linda Williams, "Fetishism and Hard Core: Marx, Freud, and the 'Money Shot'," RDR
Laura Kipnis, "(Male) Desire and (Female) Disgust: Reading Hustler" RDR

May 16: Postcolonialism, Cultural Studies, and Pedagogy II: Towards a Pedagogy of Resistance.

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, "On Race and Voice: Challenges for Liberal Education in the 1990s" BB 145-166.
Peter McLaren, "Multiculturalism and the Postmodern Critique: Toward a Pedagogy of Resistance and Transformation," BB 192-224
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Scattered Speculations on the Question of Culture Studies," RDR

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Last Updated: 26-Jan-96
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