MSI students at the annual dinner

Please see the course description below to learn about MSI’s 2023 academic component.

CORE 111: (Im)migrant Communities of California

This course offers students the opportunity to analyze the sociohistorical, legal, and cultural tensions surrounding various (im)migrant communities in California. Students will explore the various waves of (im)migration across time to understand the diverse communities of California. Students will also build critical and interpretive capacities through the examination of state policies, statistics, and various historical and empirical studies. Additionally, through the construction and revision of several expository, research-based writings on immigration, students will hone their writing, argumentation, critical thinking, and presentation skills.



(2022) Mutual Aid: Literary Representations of Relief and Collective Care

This course considers how literature deepens our understanding of "mutual aid," one of the most pressing themes in today's political, popular, and academic conversations. The course asks, is mutual aid merely a short-term practice during mass emergencies or does it provide an alternate viewpoint for communal self-reflection and structural transformation? Can we think about using the principles of mutual aid to make lasting changes in social relationships and political structures?

In this class we will use the concept of mutual aid to break down traditional binaries between surviving and thriving or pragmatism and idealism. We will think through the utopian ideal of mutual aid as a possibility for real political and social intervention. The literary works we will read allow us to imagine how the seemingly impossible becomes possible through the mundane uses of mutual aid. In addition to reading memorable works of literature in the historical contexts of black and queer communities, this course will devote consistent attention to the mechanics of writing persuasive thesis-driven essays, an essential skill for succeeding at Occidental. Readings will include Richard Wright’s short fiction “Down by the Riverside,” William Still’s compilation The Underground Railroad, Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night, and José Muñoz’s “Queerness as Horizon.”


(2021) Imagining the Future

This course proposes to critically investigate the concept of time. In particular, we will examine how time provides a crucial framework for how we imagine the future. We will take the seemingly self-evident concept of time and critically examine its intellectual history to consider how time serves a crucial function as a means of ordering our cultural, economic, and political ideas as well as our individual lives. Frameworks of history, modernity, and futurity rely on concepts of development and progress that are related to broader ideas of race and sexuality. In what ways do historical representations of time, development, and progress structure how we imagine the future? On whose behalf is progress being imagined? Where is progress located? What are the ideals of the future? Whose pasts are connected to the futures that we privilege? In considering these questions, we will examine a range of novels, films, empirical studies, and cultural theory that provide a complex portrait of how the future is imagined, especially from the perspective of those scripted out of its dominant narrative. We will engage with critical and literary approaches including Afrofuturism, queer futurity, the developmental novel, economic models, and science fiction.

Contact the Multicultural Summer Institute
Intercultural Community Center