Core | Power & Representation

Provost Ben Leeds Carson at Fall 2016 Core Plenary

Kresge 1: Power and Representation


Kresge 1 — Academic Literacy and Ethos: Power & Representation is required of all frosh, and approaches two main curricular goals: Gain skills in university discourse; competence in rhetorical styles, textual interpretation, and the ways that knowledge is used and exchanged in universities and Develop a sense of intellectual community here, on frameworks for thinking about what it means to have power in society, and how power is conditioned and deployed through representations of our identities and histories. 

Power and Representation is an introduction to the skills necessary for successful participation in an academic community. Our course readings involve a range of writing and media that reflect and examine relationships between individuals, communities, and society in the United States. In order to develop students’ approaches to academic reading, textual interpretation, argumentation, and writing, this course will examine concepts of power available in social practices and institutions, and representation manifested in public discourse and the press. The course readings focus on ways that individuals and communities in the U.S. represent and constitute themselves through struggles for power and justice, and its assignments draw on those readings as a space in which to practice the fundamentals of university discourse.

The majority of our texts in this course are short essays on contemporary social justice problems, and on the interplay between representation—the ways that individuals are seen, heard, and understood in society—and power—how those representations determine our privileges, responsibilities, and capacity to pursue happiness in the world. Special emphasis is placed on activism, that is, on the question of how individuals and communities can intervene, take action, or advocate, for social justice. 

This course does not approach the question of social justice from a single discipline or field of expertise, in the way we might expect from a course in anthropology, politics, or legal studies. Instead, Kresge 1 is a course in university discourse: a course in the styles of reading, writing, questioning, and argumentation, that empower the best learning and research in a university environment.

The Kresge Media and Society lecture series extends our core plenary sessions into the academic year, and is open to the campus community and general public.