In the preface of Marc Lamont Hill’s Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond, Hill defines what it means to be othered and a nobody: “To be Nobody is to be vulnerable. In the most basic sense, all of us are vulnerable; to be human is to be susceptible to misfortune, violence, illness, and death [...] Unfortunately, for many citizens—particularly those marked as poor, Black, Brown, immigrant, queer, or trans—State power has only increased their vulnerability, making their lives more rather than less unsafe." An individual’s vulnerability and the tension of being there but not being seen are at the heart of this 9th grade English course including its texts, themes, and essential questions. It’s also the place in which many students find themselves at the beginning of high school - searching for a place, desiring to be seen, feeling overlooked and not heard, and searching for self. While students will read a plethora of contemporary, traditional, and multimedia texts about underlying themes of invisibility, marginalization, and otherness, they will also examine the structures and institutions that show how race, class, nationality, gender, sexuality, and community shape the extent to which someone is visible. Students will read, speak, and write about fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and drama and can expect to write a compelling literary/rhetorical analysis essay by the end of the year. Students will also be able to write in other modes, styles, and genres.
Course Level Essential Questions
- What does it mean to be invisible?
- How are people or groups made to feel “invisible” or marginalized by society, social institutions, and the “majority?
- In what ways do invisible people become visible?