Short Paper Assignment (You may select either one of the following topics)
Firstly, to what extent does the film illustrate some of the claims that Goldfield makes in the last section of Chapter Five, “Early Twentieth-Century Labor and Radicalism”? Secondly, does the film in any way either validate or challenge any of the seven claims that Goldfield puts forward in the “Introduction” to explain “the inability of U.S. workers to develop sustained forms of class organization and consciousness”? Lastly, how might the readings, especially the “Conclusions” to Nimtz’s Marx, Tocqueville, and lectures, and lecture notes be employed to see a future resolution of the U.S. race-class conundrum as illustrated in the film? The reading, “Matewan: the film and the working class struggle,” on the course website under the section “Class versus Race” should be consulted in writing your essay.
More specifically, you should address the following questions: How is the film and Spelman’s position relevant to the distinction between a social construction and essentialist approach to identity and group consciousness? To what extent, if any, does the film validate Spelman’s position about how to view women as a social category? How does it do that? What are the specifics about the South African situation as illustrated in the film and other course material that validate or contradict Spelman’s views regarding the relative importance of racism and sexism? Finally, what does the South African case suggest about Spelman’s point about “different forms of liberation” for “different women”?