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PWR 91RW: Ethnofuturist Rhetorics: Imagining the Future of Race

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If you had the power to imagine the future of race in our society, what would it look like? In this project-based course, you will have the opportunity to explore this question by writing within the genre of ethnofuturism, a rhetorical movement to envision the future of race relations.

First, we will examine examples of speculative ethnofuturist rhetoric produced by Black, Asian, Latinx, and Native rhetors. We will engage with and analyze various narrative forms (such as films, stories, comics, visual artwork, and virtual reality projects) produced by authors, artists, and creatives like African American science fiction writer Octavia Butler, Kenyan film director Wenuri Kahiu, and Indigenous Canadian artist Lisa Jackson. Our goal will be to explore how these narrative forms envision the future consequences of existing racial systems and imagine alternative possibilities for societal race relations.

Following in the footsteps of these ethnofuturist rhetors, you will then select a racial justice issue that you would like to learn more about and create your own work of ethnofuturism that explores the future of this issue. For example, you might propose a video game that allows the user to explore the consequences of continuing to allow racial bias to inform artificial intelligence, pen the first few scenes of a screenplay that envisions a utopian world in which humans have discovered how to redress the harms of climate change on indigenous communities, or create a comic book that imagines how space travel might allow humans to encounter an alien species that forces us to challenge the logic of our carceral systems. By the end of this course, you will have an enriched understanding of how to engage with the rhetorical tradition of ethnofuturism to imagine the future trajectory of contemporary racial issues and envision possible solutions to advance our society toward greater racial equity.

Major Assignments

Research Project

Drawing upon your own personal and disciplinary interests, you will identify a research topic related to racial justice that you would like to investigate in greater detail. Then you will conduct research on this topic and write a report that presents your findings.

Genre Analysis

To prepare you to translate the findings of your research into your own ethnofuturist text, you will conduct a genre analysis of a particular narrative form that you would like to write within. In this genre analysis, you will provide commentary about how this narrative form will allow you to explore the future possibilities and outcomes of your chosen racial justice topic.

Ethnofuturist Text

Finally, you will manifest your speculative vision by producing your own creative work of ethnofuturism about your chosen racial justice topic. Applying the knowledge you have gained from conducting research about your topic and investigating the conventions of your chosen genre, you will craft an original piece of writing that demonstrates your understanding of the ethnofuturist rhetorical tradition and uses this lens to explore the future possibilities of your chosen racial justice issue.

Prerequisite: WR-1 requirement or the permission of instructor

Grade Option: Letter (ABCD/NP)

Course Feature: Cultural Rhetorics Track. This Course does not fulfill the WR-1 or WR-2 Requirement

WAYS: Creative Expression and Exploring Difference and Power