Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Mixed-Race Politics and Culture

ENGLISH 52N

Today, almost one-third of Americans identify with a racial/ethnic minority group, and more than nine million Americans identify with multiple races. What are the implications of such diversity for American politics and culture? In this course, we approach issues of race from an interdisciplinary perspective, employing research in the social sciences and humanities to assess how race shapes perceptions of identity as well as political behavior in 21st century United States. We will examine issues surrounding the role of multiculturalism, immigration, acculturation, racial representation, and racial prejudice in American society. Topics we will explore include the political and social formation of race; racial representation in the media, arts, and popular culture; the rise and decline of the "one-drop rule" and its effect on political and cultural attachments; the politicization of census categories; and the rise of the Multiracial Movement.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Michele Elam

Michele Elam

Cultural narratives shape the public imagination about emergent technologies, which already outpace traditional ethical and governance protocols. “Storytelling impacts, implicitly or explicitly, everything from product design to public policy,” says Michele Elam, PhD, whose interdisciplinary research examines changing representations of gender and race. Dr. Elam joined the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence in 2019 to expand the institute’s engagement with diversity and bias, especially through the lens of the arts.

Professor Elam’s scholarship is informed by the understanding that perceptions of race influence health, wealth, and social justice outcomes. Making Race in the Age of AI, her most recent book project, considers how the humanities and arts are key crucibles through which to frame urgent social questions about equity and social justice in emergent technologies. Her other books include The Cambridge Companion to James Baldwin and The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics & Aesthetics in the New Millennium. An award-winning teacher, she will be teaching “Arts+AI,” a newly designed course in the next academic years. Dr. Elam is also affiliated with Stanford’s Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity and serves on university advisory boards for African and African American Studies and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Michele Elam, William Robertson Coe Professor of Humanities, is a professor of English and associate director of the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence at Stanford.