Marxism in America

ENG 106. Spring 2021. University of Miami

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Course: ENG 106, Sections T2 and U3
Institution: University of Miami
Course Location: Dooly 211
Course Time: T/TH 6:00-7:15pm (T2), T/TH 7:40-8:55pm (U3)
Course Credit hours: 3
Instructor: Preston Taylor Stone
Email: ptstone@miami.edu
Office Hours: By appointment (Virtual)

Course Description:
Contrary to popular belief, socialist ideas are not new to the American political scene. Throughout American history, there have been several left-leaning political movements who found their inspiration from Karl Marx’s writings and the philosophers and political economists who came after calling themselves Marxists. The so-called red scares of American history reveal a concerted effort by government officials and their proxies to stifle left-leaning political movements that would encourage class solidarity or redistribution of wealth in America. Unfortunately, what this has meant is that the majority of people in today’s United States do not have an accurate understanding of Marxism, its philosophy of history or its politics of economy. This course attempts to right this wrong. We will consider the economic, historical, and anthropological as well as sociological inspirations and outcomes in the American political system of Marxist thought. In short, the class will provide students with a deeper understanding of Marx, the Marxist view of history, philosophy, and political economy, and the internationalist and anti-imperialist politics that developed in the United States inspired by Marxist ideologies throughout the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.

By reading the work of writer-activists like Emma Goldman, Eugene V. Debs, Claudia Jones, Huey P. Newton, George Jackson, Angela Y. Davis and many others, we will connect the theoretical terms Marx and other philosophers developed to different political movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. Finally, we will consider the contemporary moment: what kind of Marxist politics are developing in America in the 21st century? What version of left-leaning politics can exist in the U.S. after the ‘fall’ of communism in the early 1990s? Where and how does Marxism reside in the U.S. today? 

As the purpose of ENG 106 at the University of Miami is to prepare students to enter the academic community of the university through writing, students will be required to read, interpret, research, contextualize, and write about the works introduced in the course. Students will be introduced to primary and secondary research strategies, argumentation and contextualization, and citation styles required of all successful researchers. All of these skills will pertain to the central theme of the course, in this case Marxism.

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes
At the end of this course, students will exhibit the ability to

  • Demonstrate effective written communication skills in relation to specific rhetorical tasks.
  • Construct original, well-reasoned arguments using a range of materials
  • Find, evaluate, integrate, and synthesize appropriate and relevant primary and secondary sources in their writing
  • Engage in close-reading of texts
  • Cite sources formally (using MLA, APA, Chicago, or other citation formats)

Required Materials

  • Regular access to a computer
  • Portable storage (flash drive, email, cloud, etc)
  • Most texts will be provided on Google Drive and linked on the schedule section of this document. You will be expected to print and bring these to class or have full access to them during class.
  • Access to Netflix streaming services and YouTube
  • As far as textbooks for this class are concerned, there are two required purchases. All others will be shared via PDF

Marxism in the United States: A History of the American Left by Peter Buhle (2013 Edition)
Verso
Bookshop
Amazon

Why Marx Was Right by Terry Eagleton (2018 Edition)
Yale University Press
Bookshop
Amazon

Policies & Assignments

Participation
Students are required to attend class, come to class on time and prepared (having done the reading/s or assignment/s), at least attempt all classwork activities, turn in assigned work when due, participate fully in good faith in any peer work, participate in class discussion, focus on the work at hand, and conduct oneself in a manner appropriate to the college classroom.

Rubric for class participation

5Student is always attentive and contributes relevant insight very often, completing all in-class assignments in a collaborative and receptive manner
4Student is attentive and completes all in-class assignments in a collaborative and receptive manner
3Student is distracted but completes all in-class assignments
2Student is often distracted and off-task, hesitant and unreceptive to collaboration
1Student does not complete in-class assignments
0Student is absent

On Writing and Reading
This class will ask a lot of you in terms of writing and reading. You are likely to do more reading in a quicker time in this course than any other course you have taken before. I will, before class, ask that you respond to several informal prompts on Blackboard in the hopes you will at least attempt to do this work. Homework is a small part of your participation grade but will be immensely helpful to you in thinking about the texts we are discussing and formulating a topic for your final paper. I understand this is not your only class and I respect that you have a personal life beyond our classroom. Nonetheless, I expect you will come to class having at least attempted to do the assigned reading and writing all the way through and having prepared notes, ideas, or questions to discuss with the class.

Revision is a central and integral part of this course and any writing course of merit. In order for your writing to be consistently improving, you must bring it through multiple drafts of revision. Revision, then, is a requirement of this course. You will upload free-write, journaling, even outlines and sketches, to your Google Drive folder. Failure to do so will cast a burden of proof on your having done consistent revision in good faith for each assignment, and this will be reflected in your grades.

Attendance
Each student is allotted 4 unexcused absences (two whole weeks) and 3 tardies. Absences beyond this may result in deductions from the student’s final grade. Excessive absences will result in the student failing the course. After a student has been late (tardy) 3 times, each following time the student is late will result in 1/3 an absence. This means once a student has been late to class 6 times, they will receive an absence. Students who are consistently distracted in class (texting, browsing the internet, etc.) will be warned to pay closer attention to class. After this warning, if a student is continuously distracted in class, they will be marked absent. Students who acknowledge holy days on the same day(s) we have class will be excused if they have alerted the professor of all of these by the end of three days after you are enrolled in class. Absences do not excuse any due dates or work missed.

Electronics Policy and Google Drive vs. Blackboard
Each student is required to bring tablet, laptop, or similar electronic device to class in order to take notes, complete and submit in-class writing assignments, access readings or notes for class discussion, and participate in peer review. No electronic device should be a distraction from the activities of the classroom for any student. The use of laptops or tablets is allowed only to complete classroom-related activities. If electronic devices become a distraction or a means by which students avoid class participation, the student(s) in violation will receive an absence for class that day.

We will spend most of our class time working in Google Drive, a cloud-based file sharing system to which each student at the University of Miami has access. To log-in to your Google Drive, visit google.miami.edu and use the same credentials you use to access your email, Canelink, and Blackboard interfaces. You will have your own folder within the classroom’s folder (“ENG 106 S20”). Drive is where you will submit your drafts, revisions, in-class writing assignments, reflections, and peer reviews. The only thing you will not submit to this folder is your final draft to each assignment, which must be uploaded to Blackboard. It is up to you to make sure you have access to your Blackboard and Google Drive accounts and folders at all times. Inability to access Google Drive or Blackboard will not be sufficient excuse for not turning in assignments on time. For IT help, UMIT is located on the third floor of the Richter Library.

 Academic Honor Code
As a student of the University of Miami, you have agreed to uphold the Honor Code. Violation of this code includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, collusion, or academic dishonesty. The Undergraduate Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook defines each of these violations:

Cheating – Implies the intent to deceive. It includes all actions, devices and deceptions used in the attempt to commit this act. Examples include, but are not limited to, copying answers from another student’s exam, and using a cheat sheet or crib notes in an exam.

Plagiarism – is representing the words or ideas of someone else as your own. Examples include, but are not limited to, failing to properly cite direct quotes and failing to give credit for someone else’s ideas.

Collusion – is the act of working together on an academic undertaking for which a student is individually responsible. Examples include, but are not limited to, sharing information in labs that are to be done individually.

Academic Dishonesty – includes any other act not specifically covered that compromises the integrity of a student or intrudes, violates, or disturbs the academic environment of the university community. Examples are attempting or agreeing to commit, or assisting in or facilitating the commission of, any scholastic dishonesty violation, failing to appear or testify without good cause when requested by the Honor Council, failing to keep information about cases confidential, supplying false information to the Honor Council and accusing a student of a violation of this Code in bad faith.

Title II, B

Any student who violates the Honor Code will fail not only the assignment but the entire course. Each of you has the ability to think through your own unique ideas. If you are thinking of violating the Honor Code because you are overwhelmed or in distress, speak with me and we will come up with a better solution.

On Accessibility and Acceptance
Every student, no matter their identity, ideology, or ability, is welcome and valued in this class. This class will require that we confront political, social, and ideological questions that may be deemed controversial. I encourage you not to shy away from this opportunity to think through these issues. No matter what, no student should ever feel unwelcome or unsafe in this classroom. If you find that you feel inappropriately uncomfortable, consistently unsafe, or need help, please let me know immediately and I will direct you to the resources that may help. The University of Miami Counseling Center (UMCC) provides professional support to students no matter their gender expression, sexual preferences, sex, race, financial or immigration status. You can make an appointment by calling 305-284-5511, by visiting counseling.studentaffairs.miami.edu, or by visiting the counseling center on Merrick Dr. (across from the Pavia Garage).

Students with accessibility requirements are provided for by the University of Miami’s Office of Disability Services (ODS) and may contact this office at 305-284-2374 or disabilityservices@miami.edu to make any requests for accessibility. If you have trouble contacting the ODS, let me know and I will help you. If you have contacted the ODS and have any requirements of me, please be sure to let me know as soon as possible.

Turning in assignments 
Papers should be submitted on Blackboard or Google Drive on the day and at the specified time they are due. Each day a paper is late, there will be a deduction of 10% from the grade. All assignments are assigned in due time to be completed by each student on time. It is your own job to make sure you do not forget deadlines and that you turn your assignments into the correct platform (Blackboard, email, or Google Drive). Every deadline is listed on this document in the schedule section, on the assignment sheets themselves, and verbally said in class. If you require an extension(s) for your assignment(s), you must request them of the instructor at least three class periods (over a week) prior to the due date of the assignment. Under no circumstances is the instructor required to grant you an extension(s). No late blackboard posts will be accepted.

The Writing Center (www.as.miami.edu/writingcenter) can help you at any stage of the writing process.  Appointments are suggested, but they also accept ‘walk-in’ visits.  If I think it’s necessary, I will ask you to use the Writing Center on a regular basis. Please note that all appointments are currently being held online until further notice.  To make an online appointment, make an account at the above link/sign in as usual and choose an available time.

OWL @ Purdue is a great online resource for writing and research techniques. It can be located at https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/purdue_owl.html.

Extra Credit is not available or permitted in this course. I do not allow extra credit for several reasons: put simply, it is unfair to those who have committed to the work required of this class if others are able to do extra work for credit. Moreover, extra credit requires extra effort and time to which I am unable to commit for reading, annotating, grading, and categorizing within the gradebook.

On Communication
I will make a point to learn each of your names and I expect you will learn to use one another’s name in conversation, as well (“I agree with what ___ said”). This will create a welcoming and meaningful culture for our classroom. If you have a question about the policies or assignments for this class, you may speak to me before, during, or after class, via email, or in office hours. I will make a point to reply to your email within 24-to-48 hours. If you have not received a response from me after two days, you should email me again. Please do not email me to ask questions about an assignment one or two days before it is due as this will not allow due time for me to respond and for you to use this answer in writing your assignment.

Grades
If you have a question or concern about an assignment or participation grade, please come and see me during my office hours or talk with me before or after class to arrange a meeting.  Due to federal requirements, UM faculty are not permitted to discuss grades via email or phone, so we will need to meet in person and in private.

Overall Grade Distribution:

Attendance/Class participation10%
Blackboard Posts15%
Quizzes10%
Reading Annotations15%
Annotated Bibliography20%
Research Essay15%
Lensing Assignment15%
Total100%


Grading Scale:

A940-1000
A-900-939
B+870-899
B830-869
B-800-829
C+770-799
C730-769
C-700-729
D+670-699
D600-669
F0-599
A – Exemplary B – Effective C – Sufficient   D – Unsatisfactory F – Failure

Assignments

Blackboard reading responses
The night before most reading assignments are due, you will be asked to respond to a specific prompt or question related to the reading. These responses are designed to stimulate your thinking about the text and the course themes and help prepare you for class discussion. They are also great places to start generating ideas for your essays and research projects. These posts will be graded based on completion, but thoughtful responses will enrich our class discussions and help you develop confidence in your ideas, critical reading skills, and writing. All posts are due before class time. To earn full points on your reading responses, you will need to write thoughtful answers in full sentences and/or paragraphs and submit your post before class time. *200-300 words each*

In-class writing responses
Often on Thursday, we will have ‘Through-line Thursday’ where you and a partner will connect a minimum of two and a maximum of four sources, one of which must include the reading for that Thursday. The other sources could be something we have previously discussed in this course or something you read, saw, heard outside of class. The point of this assignment is to practice making connections between different cultural texts, a skill you will be required to showcase in the research paper (discussed below). Whereas the Blackboard reading responses test reading comprehension (that you understand what you read), these in-class writing responses will test argumentation (that you have thoughts about what you’ve read). These assignments are written in groups and while quotations will be helpful to make your connections between sources, this must be original work so the majority of the writing should be that of yourself and your group member(s). These assignments are turned in on Blackboard. *250-350 words each*

Quizzes
Throughout the semester, we will have brief quizzes on common grammatical mistakes, citation formatting, and comprehension of reading assignments. All of these will be reviewed ahead of time and all will be open-notes, so you should not stress about these. However, because you will only be allotted a certain amount of time to complete these quizzes, you should still familiarize yourself with the material before the day of the quiz.

Scholarly Questions & Reading Annotation
This project asks each student to annotate readings and post questions about the readings. This is an on-going assignment throughout the first half of the semester—you have until March 1 to complete 1000 words of annotations and log them onto your annotation sheet that you turn in. The instructor will explain how to do this logging; however, the annotation that you do should be fairly simple. For each reading, the link will take you to a PDF in Google Drive. Highlighting certain words and phrases will result in a comment button appearing next to where you have highlighted words. You can annotate by clicking on this “Add Comment” button. For scholarly questions regarding the readings, you should use Dr. Kyla Tompkins’ pointers to make sure that the question you are posing is the best it can be. *1000 words min.*

Annotated Bibliography 
This assignment will act as Part 1 of your research project. After selecting a topic for your project, you will conduct research and provide an overview of the existing body of research on the topic—trace the different schools of thought or approaches to the topic, summarize what other scholars have said, and examine how they agree, disagree, and relate to each other. This is, in short, a report on all of the scholarship about a given topic (or as much as you can find). Think of this as if you are stepping into the ongoing scholarly conversation about your topic and your goal is to outline each of the strands of that conversation. This performance of research and abridging arguments of other scholars is an important part of recognizing there is an ongoing interest in the topic you are researching and it will be very important to do as you continue in your academic career. The annotated bibliography will help you situate your own argument (that of your research paper) within the existing scholarly research. Aspects of this will become crucial during your research paper since you will need to reference sources in this list in your paper. Therefore, as you are researching, you would be wise to think about what others are not saying so that you can provide the missing link. *minimum of 10 peer-reviewed sources*

Research paper
You will produce a research paper in a scholarly format on a topic of your interest that relates to our focus of study: Marxism in America. I encourage you to think about topics addressed by your area of study. This is not a report or summary of different sources (literature review). Though you will use your annotated bibliography to situate your own argument, the majority of your paper should be dedicated to developing your own argument and situating your own contribution to (or criticism of) the arguments of others. Your essay must use research from scholarly sources (min. of 7 peer-reviewed sources), put forward a clear and convincing position on your topic, and follow a single citation style, format, and set of conventions (MLA, Chicago, or APA). *1500 words min.*

Lensing assignment (potential multimodal presentation)
This assignment asks you to use a theoretical or conceptual text as a framework to read a primary text, such as a creative or fictional work. One way to approach this is to imagine yourself as the author of the theoretical text and respond to the second text from their perspective. Therefore, the goal of this assignment is to use the concepts and ideas of the theoretical text as a “lens” to evaluate and interpret the cultural text. Your paper may be given in multimodal form (with graphics, animations, etc.) or in a traditional written format. *1500 words min.*

Schedule*

Week 1

T   1/26 PPT for reviewing Syllabus, Drive, Topic

(If time permits) “What is an argument?” assignment

Homework: Read through syllabus to prepare for open-notes quiz, discussion board post: what do you think of when you think of Marxism? What perceptions do you have about it?; Watch Chicken Run on Hulu or Spirited Away on HBO Max

R   1/28 Quiz #1 on the Syllabus

“The Beast” by Claude McKay

Discuss Scholarly Questions & Reading Citations Assignment

Karl Marx and the Commodity

Homework: Watch The Gilded Age on PBS; Read from Kathleen Sears, Socialism 101 p. 1-32; discussion board post

Week 2

T   2/2 Introduce close-reading

Basics of Socialism, Marxism

The Gilded Age in America and Why it Created Labor Movements

Homework: Read from Kathleen Sears, Socialism 101 p. 33-47 & listen to RevLeft Radio ep. From Oct 11 2020 or ep. from Sep 22 2017; discussion board post

R   2/4 Christian Socialism, Liberation Theology, and Associationism

Review citation style: MLA, APA, Chicago

Homework: Read from Immanuel Wallerstein, Historical Capitalism Ch. 1, “The Commodification of Everything: The Production of Capital”; listen to RevLeft Radio ep. From Oct 1 2020; discussion board post

Recommended/Further Reading: 

Week 3

T   2/9 The Commodification of Everything

Homework: Read from Tony Michels, A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York p. 1-25 (Introduction); discussion board post

R   2/11 Grammar I

Socialism in American Jewish History / Immigrant Socialism

Homework: Read from Toni Michels, Jewish Radicals: A Documentary History p. 41-69, 93-94, 97-98, 104-108; discussion board post

Recommended/Further Reading: 

Week 4

T   2/16 Jewish Radicalism & the Socialist Party

Close-reading Workshop 

Homework: Read from Paul Buhle, Marxism in the United States: A History of the American Left Ch. 2 (pp. 58-85); discussion board post

R   2/18 Quiz #2

American Socialism, American Culture

Guest Talk on Radical Periodicals at the Turn of the Century, John Funchion (Associate Professor of English at University of Miami)

Homework: Read from Paul Buhle, Marxism in the United States: A History of the American Left Ch. 3 (pp. 86-120 — see below, you should try to read as much as you can but focus your energy on the pages assigned to you); discussion board post

PgsWho focuses on them
pp. 86-97Trey, Abigail, Sam, David, Richard, Pablo
pp. 97-106Abiel, Jasmine, Vittorio, Melanie, Noelle, Nathan, Noah
pp. 107-120Jonathan O., Nick-Richard, Jonathan P., Clara, Eddy, Jesse

Recommended/Further Reading: 

Week 5

T   2/23 The First Red Scare

Homework: Read from Paul Buhle, Marxism in the United States: A History of the American Left Ch. 4 (pp. 121-154) and “The Black Bolsheviks” in Socialist Worker; discussion board post

Recommended/Further Reading:

R   2/25 Black Bolshevism & Leninism in America

Homework: Read from Angela Davis, Women, Race & Class ch. 10 and Claudia Jones, “An end to the neglect of the problems of the Negro woman!” & “We Seek Full Equality for Women”; discussion board post // Reminder: Reading Annotations due by 11:59pm on 3/1

Week 6

T   3/2 Grammar II

Communist Women

Review Annotated Bibliography assignment

Homework: Read “Propaganda of History” from W.E.B. DuBois’s Black Reconstruction in America; discussion board post

R   3/4 Close-Read Prologue of ZAMI

Culture Critique

Homework: Read from Paul Buhle, Marxism in the United States: A History of the American Left p. 199-220 [for those who do not have the physical book, this is the subheading “Trotskyism and the Search for Alternatives” in Chapter 6 until the end of the chapter]; discussion board post

Week 7

T   3/9 Quiz #3

CLR James and the Beginning of the New Left

Homework: Read from Paul Buhle, Marxism in the United States: A History of the American Left Ch. 7 (221-257); Watch The Trial of the Chicago 7 on Netflix; discussion board post

R   3/11 The New Left

Homework: Read Foreword by Jonathan Jackson, Jr. from Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson (p. xiii-xxv)

Recommended/Further Reading: 

Week 8

T   3/16 Midterm Reflections

Black Radicalism in the 1970s-1980s: George Jackson, Angela Davis, and Assata Shakur

Homework: Read from Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson p. 3-31

Recommended/Further Reading: 

R   3/18 2 Letters by George L. Jackson

Angela Y. Davis

Homework: Read from The Huey P. Newton Reader p. 160-179 and at least 3 sections from the following

  1. From “In Defense of Self-Defense” I: June 20, 1967 (p. 134-137)
  2. From “In Defense of Self-Defense” II: July 3, 1967 (p. 138-141)
  3. The Correct Handling of a Revolution: July 20, 1967 (p. 142-146)
  4. A Functional Definition of Politics, January 17, 1969 (p. 147-149)
  5. The Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements: August 15, 1970 (p. 157-159)
  6. Uniting Against a Common Enemy: October 23, 1971 (p. 234-240)
  7. On Pan-Africanism or Communism: December 1, 1972 (p. 248-255)

Recommended/Further Reading:

Week 9

T   3/23 Huey P. Newton and the BPP

Homework: Prepare draft of Annotated Bibliography before class for in-class workshop

R   3/25 Annotated Bibliography workshop **Class Held On Zoom**

Homework: Read all of Stuart Hall’s essay “Cultural Studies: two paradigms” and Section I of “Gramsci’s relevance for the study of race and ethnicity”; discussion board post; Annotated Bibliography due no later than Wed March 31 at 3pm EST

Recommended/Further Reading:

Week 10

T   3/30 Review Research Essay assignment

Antonio Gramsci and Cultural Studies

Homework: Read “Introduction: Queer of Color Critique, Historical Materialism, and Canonical Sociology” from Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique by Roderick A. Ferguson; discussion board post

R   4/1 Black Queer Marxism

Homework: Read the Introduction of Histories of Racial Capitalism, edited by Destin Jenkins and Justin Leroy; Listen to RevLeft Radio ep. from Oct 23 2017 or RevLeft ep. from Feb 14 2018 discussion board post

Recommended/Further Reading:

Week 11

T   4/6 Racial Capitalism

Geographies of Racial Capitalism (Short Documentary)

Homework: Read from Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right Preface of Second Edition, Original Preface and Ch. 1-2; discussion board post; watch Bee Movie on Netflix

R   4/8 Grammar III

Eagleton Preface i, ii and Ch. 1-2

Homework: Read from Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right Ch. 3 and watch In Time (2011) – links below; Prepare draft for research essay workshop

iTunes Google Play Amazon YouTube Movies

Week 12

T   4/13 Ch. 3 of Eagleton

Research Essay Workshop

Homework: Watch Children of Men (2006) on Peacock for free, or rent on other platform; Read from Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right Ch. 4; discussion board post

R   4/15 Ch. 4 Eagleton

Homework: Research essay due no later than Fri., 4/16 at 11:59pm; Read from Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right Ch. 7 and watch 13th on Netflix; discussion board post

Week 13

T   4/20 Review Lensing Assignment

Ch. 7 Eagleton

Homework: Read from Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right Ch. 8 and watch Capital in the Twenty-First Century on Netflix; discussion board post

R   4/22 Ch. 8 Eagleton

Homework: Read from Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right Ch. 9 and watch Saving Capitalism on Netflix; discussion board post

Week 14

T   4/27 Ch. 9 Eagleton

Homework: Read from Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right Ch. 10-Conclusion and watch Requiem for the American Dream on YouTube; discussion board post

R   4/29 Ch. 10 Eagleton

Conclusion of Class

Final Reflections

Homework: Draft of Lensing Assignment due no later than Friday, April 30th in order to receive comments from professor;

**Lensing Assignment due no later than May 7 at 11:59 p.m.**

*Course schedule is fluid and may require alterations throughout the semester depending on different, unforeseen events or complications. All changes will be announced both in class and via Blackboard/email announcements in due time for students to receive and adjust their plans accordingly.