Aftermath and Backlash: Challenging Conversations about Race- and Gender-Based Violence, Prof. Ann J. Cahill (Elon University)
This seminar focuses on two philosophical works that grapple with the phenomenon of identity- based violence. The first, Susan Brison’s Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of the Self (2001), analyzes the author’s experience with sexual violence through the lens of trauma theory and philosophies of the self. The second, George Yancy’s Backlash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly about Race in America (2018) chronicles the author’s experience with hate-filled, racist responses to an essay he published in the New York Times, raising crucial philosophical questions about the structures that imbue dominant conversations about race. These texts will guide our discussion of identity, violence, inequality, discourse, vulnerability, and the possibilities of resistance. In addition to the goal of developing a robust understanding of these philosophers’ texts – both of which include a compelling combination of personal narrative and philosophical analysis – the seminar will explicitly focus on developing the skills necessary to have an authentic, intellectually productive, robust discussion, especially when facing topics that are both philosophically and ethically challenging. To this end, students will reflect frequently and substantially on the quality of our discussions, and experiment with ways to improve them. We will aim to have conversations that are lively, troubling, brave, and worthy of the challenges that the texts present to us.