New! Keywords Autoethnography Assignment

Three faculty members at the University of Iowa – Naomi Greyser, Aniruddha Dutta, and Aimee Carrillo Rowe – have kindly shared a keywords assignment that was part of their course on “Diversity and Power: Gender, Race, and Class in the United States.” They offer it as an instance of what can be done with Keywords for American Cultural Studies in an undergraduate course, and we’re very happy to be able to pass it along to you.

The assignment is different from others on the site. It asks students to write a short autoethnography in which they share reflections on how their everyday lives are shaped by a term from Keywords. It also invites them to address their keyword’s intersection with additional categories of identity and experience such as sexuality, religion, citizenship, and age.

The course – offered through the Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies program – fulfills the diversity requirement in the General Education program at the University of Iowa. It introduces students to intersectional, transnational, and ecological approaches to identity, experience, and American-ness. Students learn about histories and topographies of injustice, focusing on social movements and everyday practices that resistance that injustice.

The keywords that organize the course include diversity, slavery, race, racialization, ethnicity, class, labor, gender, disability, indigenous, Indian, capitalism, nation, empire, globalization, religion, queer, and politics.

We thank Naomi, Anirhudda, and Aimee for their willingness to share their assignment, and for finding new and generative ways to use Keywords for American Cultural Studies in the classroom. If you use their idea – or come up with another one – we want to hear about it! Drop us a line at, and include a description of the course and your assignment, along with a note about what worked and what needs work.