Yale University Teaches Students ‘Counternarratives Around Whiteness’

Ben Decatur, College Fix, February 19, 2108

Yale University is offering a course this semester which aims to help students understand and counteract “whiteness,” exploring such topics as “white imagination,” “white property” and “white speech.”


The class, which is apparently being offered for the first time this semester, discusses “whiteness as a culturally constructed and economically incorporated entity, which touches upon and assigns value to nearly every aspect of American life and culture.”

The goal of the class is to “create a lab for the construction of counternarratives around whiteness in any creative form: play, poem, memoir, etc.,” states the syllabus.

Taught by Professor Claudia Rankine, the class is divided into eight topics: Constructions of Whiteness, White Property, White Masculinity, White Femininity, White Speech, White Prosperity, White Spaces and White Imagination, according to the syllabus.

Students in the course are asked to read books such as Michael Kimmel’s “Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era,” Richard Dyer’s “White: Essays on Race and Culture,” and Richard Delgado’s and Jean Stefanic’s “Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirror.”


Outside of Yale, Rankine is active in the theater community. Her play “The White Card” is being produced at Boston’s Emerson Paramount Center. The play, which centers around “a conversation at a dinner party,” focuses on the question: “Can American society progress if whiteness stays invisible?”

Classes like “Constructions of Whiteness” are not unique to Yale. A controversial course titled “The Problem of Whiteness” is currently offered this semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Meanwhile, Stanford University offered a class in the fall called “White Identity Politics,” during which students discuss the “possibilities of…abolishing whiteness.”


Claudia Rankine

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