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HUMAN 100 - Introduction to Studies in the Humanities - Pierre Etienne

Course:Introduction to Studies in the Humanities
Professor:Pierre Etienne
  • InPerson
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


Professor Etienne in a café in Spain

I was born and raised in the beautiful city of La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast of France. Unfortunately, in the 18th and 19th centuries, this city grew rich through its involvement in the slave trade. In the 20th century, my father was an officer in the French colonial navy, and he and my family paid a heavy price for his participation in France's imperialist endeavors, as he was killed in Vietnam in 1954. In other words, I have been haunted/fascinated by colonialism for my entire life, and I have taught classes devoted to this topic at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Puerto Rico (a colony!) as well as at College of the Canyons.

Along with climate change, there are perhaps no greater issues facing the world today than those arising from colonialism, a system that can simply be defined as a policy by which a nation maintains or extends its control over foreign dependencies. Or, to be truthfully blunt, a practice of domination which involves the subjugation of one people to another for the economic benefit of the latter. In other words, colonialism is about slavery and exploitation (military, economic, sexual, etc.) in all its forms; it’s about Capitalism and Communism, and war and terrorism, and migration. In other words, it’s to a great extent about how the world we live in got that way—and where it might be going—and to study it, to borrow a line from a great song by the Velvet Underground, is to take a walk on the wild side. Are you ready?

Course Description

Course Topic: Conquest, Consolidation and Resistance: European Colonialism and its Aftermath

This course will focus on European imperialism/colonialism in the Maghreb (North Africa, most notably Algeria), West Africa, Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos), and the Caribbean. It will examine how the Europeans were able to conquer a substantial portion of the world and how they attempted to justify this enterprise not only by means of military and economic subjugation but through the use of philosophical constructs, social theory, language, religion, education, art, literature, and cinema. As a corollary, we will study how the colonized countered this subjugation by means of ideology, literature, cinema, music and, in the case of Haiti, Algeria, and Vietnam, violence, to assert their own identity. Finally, we will study, how the conquered and the conquerors are still facing the consequences in today’s world.

What to Expect in this Course

You will be busy, but it will be manageable. With very few exceptions, the reading and writing assignments are short. Participation in class discussions, two general exams, short quizzes on readings, short film response papers, two short essays.

Types of Assessments

 Participation in class discussions, two general in-class exams, short quizzes on readings, short film response papers, two short essays.

Textbook Information

Required texts (all available for a reasonable price at the COC bookstore):

Dennis Laumann, Colonial Africa: 1884-1994 (Oxford University Press: ISBN: 9780199796397)

 A. Adu Boahen, African Perspectives on European Colonialism (Diasporic Africa Press: ISBN: 9780966020144)

Mariama Bâ, So Long a Letter (Waveland Press: ISBN: 9781577668060)

Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer (Grove Atlantic: ISBN: 9780802124944)

Joseph Zobel, Black Shack Alley (Lynne Rienner Publishers: ISBN: 978091447868)

Important note: There will be other short readings (poems, song lyrics, excerpts from essays, film reviews, etc.) as well as music and films. These will be made available to you free of charge on-line or by your instructor.

Other Relevant Course Information

Additional requirements: You will need reliable access to the Internet and Canvas via a desktop or laptop computer or pad.

Important note: I'll send the syllabus and some important information the week before the start of class. It is important that you check your COC email  (my,canyons) on a regular basis.

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


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Last updated: 11/04/2021 Sub#: 1133