‘Race and the Cosmos’: New US University Course Merges Astronomy With ‘History of Race’

Some social media users aren’t particularly pleased about the new course, arguing that it’s probably “causing way more damage than good.”

A new astronomy course being taught at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York explores the connection between “the term black holes and ‘racial blackness,’” as the New York Post puts it.

According to the newspaper, the course is taught by astronomy professor Nicholas Battaglia and comparative literature professor Parisa Vaziri.

“Conventional wisdom would have it that the ‘black’ in black holes has nothing to do with race. Surely there can be no connection between the cosmos and the idea of racial blackness. Can there?” says the course’s description on the university website. “Contemporary Black Studies theorists, artists, fiction writers implicitly and explicitly posit just such a connection. Theorists use astronomy concepts like “black holes” and “event horizons” to interpret the history of race in creative ways, while artists and musicians conjure blackness through cosmological themes and images.”

The course is aiming “to introduce students to the fundamentals of astronomy concepts through readings in Black Studies.”

“Texts may include works by theorists like Michelle Wright and Denise Ferreira da Silva, authors like Octavia Butler and Nalo Hopkinson, music by Sun Ra, Outkast and Janelle Monáe. Astronomy concepts will include the electromagnetic spectrum, stellar evolution, and general relativity,” the description continues.

As the newspaper points out, a number of social media users aren’t impressed by the course, with some even arguing that it’s likely “causing way more damage than good.”

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