This course will explore issues of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as individual, personal, and social adaptations, covering such experiences as post-childbirth syndromes, bullying, automobile accidents, natural disasters, rape, combat and other threats to one's personhood and identity.
This seminar will examine the visual culture of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Stalinist Russia with a view toward how totalitarian regimes do (and do not) shape visual culture. Before beginning embarking on our three case studies, we will review working models of what constitutes avant-garde and modern practice in order to consider these regimes’ influence on the art, architecture and film produced within the greater context of European modernism. Throughout the course, we will analyze both the aestheticization of politics and the politicization of aesthetics. Lastly, the course will include a brief consideration of visual culture in the United States contemporary to the three totalitarian regimes under investigation. Students will be encouraged to explore research topics related to these four cultural contexts and/or other more recent relevant regimes that fall on the left and on the right.
This is a course in the history of Hollywood. It seeks to unravel Hollywood’s complex workings and explain how the business and politics of the film industry translate into the art of film. We will trace the American film industry from Edison to the internet, asking questions such as: What is the relationship between Hollywood and independent film? How has the global spread of Hollywood since the 1920s changed the film industry? How has Hollywood responded to crises in American politics (e.g., world wars, the cold war, terrorism)? And how have new technologies such as synchronized sound and color cinematography, television and the VCR, and new digital technologies changed film and the film industry? We will look closely at representative studios (Paramount, Disney, and others), representative filmmakers (Mary Pickford, Frank Capra, and George Lucas, among many, many others), and we will examine the impact of industrial changes on the screen through close film analysis and weekly screenings.
This seminar focuses on the political, social and cultural history of the Chinese region from the Stone Age to the 20th century. Readings will consist of primary and secondary sources, including influential modern studies of Chinese history and civilization. All course materials are in English and no knowledge of Chinese is presumed.
From the Middle Ages to the present, stories about King Arthur, the brave deeds of the knights of the Round Table, and Merlin's mysterious prophecies have mesmerized readers and audiences. In this course we will study nearly 1000 years of literature about King Arthur, beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth's twelfth-century History of the Kings of Britain, which inaugurated an era of great Arthurian romances in English, French, and German, and ending with the recently acclaimed novel, The Book of Arthur, in which the narrator discovers an unknown Shakespearean play about King Arthur. Throughout the course, we will think about what legends about Arthur mean to the way we write history and the ways in which we view our collective pasts (and futures). Assignments will include weekly response papers, an oral presentation, and a final exam. Texts include works by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Chretien de Troyes, Marie de France, Thomas Malory, Mark Twain, and Arthur Philips.
This writing workshop will be an improvisational journey that invites participants to blend memory with fantasy, fact with fiction, imitation and revision into the creation of an extended story or personal essay. Students will read and respond to literature, free-write on a daily basis, and build their skills from one assignment to the next. The classes will include short meditations, movement, music and poetry to help recover, revisit, and revise memories that may be new, buried, or long forgotten. As Toni Morrison said in “The Site of Memory,” “…..All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that; remembering where we were, what valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory—what the nerves and the skin remember as well as how it appeared. And a rush of imagination is ‘our’ flooding.”
Texts are tools, extending the capacity to transmit complex, creative thoughts from one human being to another. Whether performed before a live audience or lifted off the page in a private act of reading, no text truly exists until it has blossomed in the recipient’s mind, the author’s ideas mated with our ideas, the intimate faculties of our being evoked to respond. What can a dialogue between literature and the performing arts teach us about the dynamics of representation and the event of the text? How does the spoken word put gesture into voice or theater wed action with emotion, and how can we as writers in any genre achieve such dimensionality and presence on the page? This workshop will explore the life of words, the fact of the body, and their subtle intersections. We will read and explore on both sides of the equation, theory and practice, performance and literature, but mostly we will write, accumulating a portfolio of work. Students will participate in weekly peer review. Revision is expected. This is a workshop that will teach all writers to write persuasively and evocatively. Bring your willingness and curiosity.
In recent years, artists and musicians have begun to recognize the need for the development of certain non-artistic skills that can assist them in taking more control over their careers. This course will help students develop an entrepreneurial mindset with regard to their careers, focusing on skills vital to idea generation and the implementation of ideas such as creative thinking, strategic and business planning, marketing, financial analysis/budgeting, and raising money. Through lectures and individual and group projects, students will gain the background and experience necessary to conceive of new ways to introduce the world to their artistic talents and the ability to execute those plans.
The global arena is described by some theorists as a realm of perpetual conflict. Others argue that, given the right circumstances, sovereign states can find ways to achieve cooperation, peace and increased global prosperity. Still other theorists argue that international politics is “what you make of it” – and focus on the importance of norms and identities – not interests – in shaping international outcomes. This course will examine theoretical and policy perspectives regarding the question of international conflict and cooperation, with a specific focus on understanding the circumstances under global actors -- including states, international organizations and nongovernmental organizations – achieve sustainable cooperative outcomes.
Most of us think that debt is different from the cash we have in our wallets, or the money we have in the bank. But that “cash” may not be as substantial as you think, and the money in the bank is a lot like the things we call debts. This seminar takes a trip though ways we (and other societies) have thought about wealth and its opposite. It’s not an economics class but we will start with technical definitions, and then move on to their cultural & political dimensions. The seminar draws on a rich literature of fiction, art, and history concerned in one way or another with the uses of money as “debit” and “credit”. Among the course materials will be Luther “On Usury”& Dante on the 9th circle of hell; a recent BBC production of Dickens “Little Dorritt” & early and modern artworks concerned with the uses of money. Selected political texts from Smith to Bataille will also be assigned.
What can we learn by conceiving of “faith” as a verb—of faith as an action? How then should we live? These questions form the crux of contemporary dilemmas for all informed citizens curious about re-thinking the roots of shared centers of value and power. We will begin our study by examining meanings of “faith” and “religion” as distinguished from “belief” in the works of W.C. Smith and James W. Fowler. Once “faith” is understood as a verb, as an active way of “knowing” reality and of “being in the world,” critical questions can be raised as to the contents of faith. No longer simplistically understood solely in terms of “belief in the creed” of an organized religion, we will begin to see that we can and do have “faith” in many things even if we are avowed agnostics or atheists. Furthermore, once we turn to a critical definition of religion, we will see that this concept is not limited to what happens in a church, synagogue or temple but what happens in other areas of our lives as well, not the least of which includes what happens on the political and commercial floors of our government buildings and financial institutions both at the local and national levels. Finally, a definition of “ritual” broadly conceived will enable us to see the ways in which we are shaped to adhere to certain forms of belief by participating in public and private rituals whether or not we are aware of it. With these theoretical underpinnings in place, we will explore the music and movement of a subversive martial art called Capoeria; the humble practice of birthing social justice by standing ‘out of the way;’ and attempts at direct impact social action of ‘militant pacifism.’ Several guest presenters from various faith backgrounds and diverse approaches to practicing justice will join us at key junctures in the class. Course materials and assignments will include compelling documentaries, community-based experiential learning, small group "think tanks," mini-lectures, and larger group dialogue. There will also be chances for participant-observation at a field-site of your choosing and bibliographic research. In this course, you will be encouraged and challenged to find ways to relate this class to ongoing research (such as developing a Capstone) through innovative engagement with the course's themes, methods, and topics.
This MLA proseminar relies on a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives to examine a number of emergent issues in the sociology of media and mass culture. Specific course topics will include the globalization of branding and popular culture; the significance of aesthetics and style in everyday life; the social landscapes of virtual online communities; the importance of social networks in the diffusion of fads, fashions, and mass media; and the impact of the digital age in the contemporary social world.
This course will investigate the major movements in modernism in America between 1900 and 1950. The course will focus chiefly on movements in theatre, art, music, in particular jazz, with some attention given to modern forms in poetry, architecture, and dance. Subject areas to be covered in early 20th Century America include the founding of a modern American theatre through the work of the Provincetown Players and the drama of Eugene O’Neil; the response to the Armory Show in 1913 and the creation of an authentically modern American painting and sculpture; and the evolution of jazz in composition and performance. The post-World War II period will focus on the rise of off-Broadway theatre and the work of writers such as Edward Albee, John Guare, and LeRoi Jones; the establishment of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism; the rise of the Beat culture in reaction to Cold War politics and postwar conformist culture. This course will also examine the intellectual, political, and cultural foundations of modernism in America, and place the work of artists and writers in the context of the “Greenwich Village idea,” which set an ideal of communal solidarity and radical politics in opposition to the patriarchal Victorian values of traditional American middle-class culture and nationalist politics.