Below is the description and reading schedule from the syllabus for a class I designed and am teaching during Summer Session 2015 at UC Davis, through the Humanities Program.
Humanities 002B: American Humanities Forum: Justice or “Just Us”: Policing and Race in the Black Humanities, from Slavery to the Present
Course Description and Objectives:
Protests that began in the summer and fall of 2014 (and that continue) over the killing of black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner by white police officers in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY have made the intersecting issues of police conduct and race relations highly visible. But the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter does not announce a new problem or movement—indeed, it follows a much longer history of anti-black racial discrimination by law enforcement that ranges from disrespectful misunderstanding to brutality and homicide. And current activism follows a much longer history of protest and resistance to racially discriminatory law enforcement.
(Attended the first day of the culminating conference for the UCHRI initiative “The Humanities and Changing Conceptions of Work”. The day was addressed to graduate students, “Making the MA/PhD Work Post Graduation: A Career Workshop for Humanities Graduate Students”. A few thoughts…)
Graduate students in the humanities ARE the humanities.
During a panel that also featured the director of UC Press and the chief counsel for CA Department of Industrial Relations, the departing director of Cal Humanities Ralph Lewin shared the anecdote/joke/nightmare: in the process of looking for a new job, he spoke with a headhunter who said, “so on your resume you have all of this experience in the humanities… and I have no idea what that is.”
I have now been to two programs addressing the question of what to do with the humanities PhD post graduation besides teaching in higher ed (the tenure-track, the adjunct, the two-year school). In each I have heard a great deal about identifying and marketing our transferable skills (or fluencies or literacies, if you want) to those beyond the academy. In our current economy, a knowledge-based economy, the humanities PhD is well positioned, or so goes the argument. Our job prospects open up, the career possibilities multiply. All we have to do is reframe the resume, match up our skills with the keywords of job announcements: help employers see more clearly the work we can do, the tasks we can complete.