Section 001 The Examined Life
Instructor: Karen Tidmarsh
TTh 11:15 – 12:45
What is the examined life? Does self-awareness guarantee a “life worth living”, or is more needed? What is the relationship between self-examination and happiness? We will consider these questions and others as they are addressed by a variety of important writers from different periods and disciplines. Texts will include “Why I Live at the P.O.” by Eudora Welty, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” by Karen Russell, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, Shakespeare’s King Lear, and Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. We will also read selections from Plato, who originally cautioned about the unexamined life, and Freud, who advocates examining the unconscious. Texts will serve as starting points for discussion and writing. A goal of the course will be to improve students’ ability to read difficult texts, take positions on their meaning and implications, and speak and write about them clearly and persuasively. Students will write frequent short essays, with drafts and revisions.
Section 002 Volcanoes and Society
Instructor: Lynne Elkins
TTh 9:45 – 11:15
The interactions between resource-rich, hazardous volcanic landscapes and human society is long and complex. Volcanoes are difficult to predict, destructive, damaging to infrastructure, vibrant and resource-rich, and important sources of energy. This class will explore the nature and scope of all types of volcanic hazards as well as how we benefit from them: How have they impacted the evolution of humans and development of human civilization, history, and lore? How are they continuing to do so today? What lessons can we take from our past interactions with volcanoes to better mitigate future losses, maximize resource access, and live in relative peace in and around these dynamic landscapes? Among other topics, texts will explore how legends have formed about major eruptions through human history, firsthand accounts of volcanological work gone terribly wrong, the history of volcanology as a discipline, and the role of economic status and race in our attitudes toward communities and people at high risk of catastrophic natural disaster. Writing exercises and assignments will include reflections on texts, reporting about volcanic hazards and mitigation, and papers exploring the complex relationships between humans and volcanoes.
Sections 003 and 004 Performance and Self
Instructors: Linda Caruso Havillan, Gail Hemmeter
TTh 11:15 – 12:45
When we use the word “self” what do we mean? Are we coherent, authentic, natural selves, or is what we call “self” a role we’ve taken on and can easily discard or change at will? What does it mean to perform ourselves -- in life, on stage, in film, in dance, in texts? Do we perform a social or cultural role in a script that has already been written for us? Or do we create ourselves through desire, passion and will? In this seminar, we will use a variety of texts to examine the ways we perform ourselves in daily life at the intersections of gender, race and class. We will also look at the ways artists and writers construct performances that convey these social and political aspects of identity. We will draw our texts from a variety of sources: philosophy, psychology, theater, dance, fiction, poetry, and film. They include examinations of the self by Freud and social scientist Ervin Goffman; poetic expressions of gender performance by Tony Hoagland and Gloria Anzaldua; analyses of gender in ballet and modern dance, in films such as Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home; depictions of race in Henry David Hwang’s M. Butterfly; dramas of class in John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation and in the writing of Barbara Ehrenreich. Our final project will provide an opportunity for groups to create a short performance around themes and ideas generated by the class. Because writing is also a performance, we will pay attention to how we present ourselves on paper. Students will write frequently, participate in occasional projects and peer review groups, and have opportunities to revise their work.
Section 005 Meditations on Mortality
Instructor: Jennefer Callaghan
One thing is certain: Each of us will die some day. Most of us choose to ignore this fact, probably because of its power to provoke feelings of fear, anxiety, or defiant anger. Yet there is much to learn from facing our own mortality--becoming aware that death is an unavoidable, universal human experience. In this course, we will examine a range of responses to mortality by people who encounter death personally or professionally. In what ways do they make meaning of their encounters with death? What understandings do they develop about the relationship between life and death? What, ultimately, can meditations on mortality teach us about life? We will seek answers to these questions by discussing and writing about texts drawn from the fields of literature, philosophy, sociology, and religion. Texts may include Body of Work, an account of a medical student’s first year gross anatomy lab; the Pulitzer-prize winning play Wit; poems by Donne, Marvell, Keats, Dylan Thomas, and W.S. Merwin; and essays by Freud, Barthes, and William James. Through frequent short writing assignments that lead to longer analytical and argumentative essays, students will learn strategies for generating and organizing ideas, drafting, and revising.
Section 006 Representing War
Instructor: H. Rosi Song
TTh 11:15 – 12:45
War has always been part of human history. And this history has always been accompanied by the depiction and representation of warfare through cultural artifacts. Through writing, paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, documentaries, the human mind has tried to capture the experience of war. But what does it really mean to represent war? Is it the simple depiction of atrocities either through a visual medium or a written text? What other stories or messages do these texts carry? Are there other stories or narratives? Other perspectives? Has this representation changed through history? Should violence be treated differently as an aggressor or as a victim? What are the ethical implications of engaging with the texts that try to tell the “truth” about war? What role do memory and trauma play in telling or capturing these stories? We will explore these question and others that will arise from our class discussion through the reading of fiction, the viewing of films and documentaries, artwork, photojournalism, and propaganda posters. A small selection of fiction and memoir about different war conflicts from the 19th and 20th century will anchor our class discussions, including Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage; George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia; and Luisa Valenzuela’s Other Weapons. Films may include Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan; Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket; and Robert Altman’s MASH. These will be complemented by other critical texts as we expand our exploration of the various topics regarding the representation of war. Students will reflect on these subjects through short papers that will be expanded into longer analyses of texts and visual materials assigned for this course.
Section 007 Borders
Instructor: Jennifer Harford Vargas
T/Th 11:15 – 12:45
The border is more than a line separating one county from another. We are surrounded by many kinds of borders that divide people and establish a binary between insiders and outsiders, between “us” and “them.” This course examines the concept of the border through the lenses of race and nation in the context of the United States and, in particular, with regards to the U.S.’s three largest populations—Anglo Americans, Latina/os, and African Americans. We will explore such questions as: How is race constructed in the U.S., how do individuals perform racial identities, and how do communities negotiate racial tension and racial mixture? How do the immigrant and the undocumented migrant reconfigure or challenge what it means to be a member of our national community, and what do their border-crossings tell us about how we imagine and police the boundaries of the United States? We will approach the problematic of borders through different genres such as films ( Bamboozled and Sleep Dealer ), comedy (Dave Chappelle and Stephen Colbert), performance art ("The Couple in the Cage"), graphic books ( Codex Espangliensis and Fun Home ), novels ( Kindred ), and documentary narratives ( The Devil's Highway ) by and about people of color to analyze how borders are defended, crossed, blurred, and even dismantled. We will compare the efficacy of different media and ask how techniques such as parody, historical revision, documentation, and linguistic creativity reinforce or interrogate racial and national borders. Students will ultimately learn to be critically conscious of the various borders that shape their lives.
Section 008 Clash of Cultures (?): East and West in European and Middle Eastern Literature
Instructor: David Kenosian
In this course we will examine European, Middle East and North African literature in the 20th century to see how perceived cultural and political differences and conflicts have shaped the cultural relations between East and West. While the primary focus of discussions will be novels including one by Orhan Pamuk, we will also look at excerpts from travelogues, historical studies, and at least two films: Lawrence of Arabia and The Battle of Algiers. Topics for discussions include these: How and why does the West see itself as different from its Middle Eastern neighbors? To what extent does imperialism prevent an understanding of shared cultural and religious history? Have conflicts provided the incentive to question one’s own culture?
The course is designed to help students improve their analytical writing. We will examine ways posing insightful analytical questions. One way of facilitating students’ ability to develop questions will be the journal in which students will write brief responses to and questions about the readings. In addition, we will stress the revision of writing as a means of refining and deepening the arguments presented in essays.
Section 009 The Race for Cyberspace
Instructor: Hoang Nguyen
TTh 11:15 – 12:45
This seminar explores the central role that race plays in our understanding and experience of the Internet. How is race differently constructed in “old” and “new” media? In what ways have virtual spaces enabled new identities and community formations? Which of these identities and communities become targets of surveillance, control, and marketing? How have people of color interacted with these new technologies? Our investigation of race and new media will be guided by the following key terms: access, community, identity, democracy, sexuality, interactivity, and activism. We will read a wide range of texts from different disciplines and fields of study. Our case studies will encompass social networking websites, chat rooms, video games, artists’ Web projects, YouTube, blogs, film, and video art. Texts include the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick; Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner; Greg Pak’s film Robot Stories; the website Alllooksame.com.; Allison Bechdel’s Fun Home; and Howard Rheingold’s “The Virtual Community.”
Section 010 Culture Shock
Instructor: Sharon Bain
TTh 11:15 – 12:45
The concept of culture comprises the beliefs, values and institutions passed down from generation to generation within a social or ethnic group. Culture, as each of us defines it, influences our behavior, informs our attitudes toward others, and shapes our understanding of right and wrong. What happens when disparate cultures intersect? How do individuals cope with the “culture shock” that forces them to redefine reality as they know it? When does this shock lead to conflict, destruction or enlightenment? This seminar will explore culture shock through fictional works of literature and film that depict communities and individuals whose world views are changed when they encounter foreign ways of life. In weekly writing assignments and class discussions students will examine the cross-cultural relationships in these works and will analyze the ways authors depict beauty and tragedy as outcomes of struggle. Some of these fictional works include East Wind: West Wind by Pearl Buck, Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick, the film Everything is Illuminated directed by Liev Schreiber, and Miss Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell. By the end of the semester, students will have produced six papers, each of which explores in depth an aspect of the works discussed in class.
Section 011 Secret Code
Instructor: Deepak Kumar
TTh 11:15 – 12:45
The history of humankind is punctuated with the use of secret codes. They have decided the outcomes of battles and led to deaths of kings and queens. Through a tour of the history and use of secret codes this course introduces students to the evolution of codes and code breaking starting from the earliest ciphers in Ancient Egypt to the modern uses of codes and ciphers in everyday life. Along the way students will learn about the intricacies and implications of secret/codified communication, cryptography, cryptanalysis, and our current issues of security (of online purchases), privacy (involvement in social media), and how these manifest themselves into the locks and keys of the Information Age. Students will read, write, reflect, and participate in computer experiments relating to secret codes and code breaking. Texts will include The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh and other readings on codes and cryptography. The class will also take a field trip to the National Security Agency’s Cryptologic Museum.
Section 012 A Mask Made of Words
Instructor: Jose-Luis Gastanaga
“A Mask Made of Words” proposes the autobiography as an occasion to discuss a matter that involves us all: what is our identity and how we shape it. It is generally accepted that autobiography became a recognizable genre at the end of the 18th century with authors like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Benjamin Franklin; and that immediately after, in the 19th century, it became an object of study for philosophers, historians, literary scholars and social scientists. In this seminar we will approach autobiography very broadly, keeping in mind that for many individuals autobiography has been not just a canonized genre but a way to build an image for posterity. We will read selections of autobiographies crossing boundaries of time, geography and gender and ask ourselves how people relate the story/history of their lives to their specific contexts. In addition to more traditional autobiographies, we will also read “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” an unusual rendition of the autobiographical genre in the form of a graphic novel. We will also explore also some visual texts, particularly painting (self-portraits) and film (Agnès Varda’s The Gleaners and I and The Beaches of Agnès).
Section 013 Bookmarks
Instructor: Katherine Rowe
TTh 11:15 – 12:45
In this seminar, students think about media change across very long spans of time and assess different writing and reading technologies for both their strengths and limitations. For example, we may talk about the differences and similarities among scrolls, books, and Web pages in terms of the ways they store and transmit knowledge, and serve the different interests of writers, editors, and readers. Or we may compare the unexpected rebound effects Mark Twain experienced when he bought his first typewriter with those that students today experience with emerging e-technologies such as Wikipedia and Facebook. Students will learn to approach their own writing strategically: practicing skills that can scale to small and large projects and translate readily across different writerly context.
Sections 014 and 015 Food for Nine Billion: What Does The Future Hold?
Instructors: Peter Brodfuehrer, Gregory Davis
TTh 11:15 – 12:45
The US Census Bureau estimates that the world population is 7,011,011,819 (May 03, 2012). How long before it reaches 9 billion? How will we feed 9 billion people? Will technology save us? Are there scientific advances on the horizon that will shape and sustain the planet? Or does humankind have to dramatically alter how we live our lives? To address these questions this seminar will examine the problem primarily from a scientific and biological perspective, but will also consider the ethical, social, economic and political dimensions of the problem. Information from an array of disciplines and sources—The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Tomorrow’s Table by Pamela Ronald and R. W. Adamchak, various science articles, and even some science fiction—will serve as the basis for our discussions. Topics will include global population growth, reproductive issues and technologies, history of monoculture, sustainable agriculture, GM foods, in vitro meat, and the psychology and physiology of choice. Writing assignments will include reading responses, several short papers, and a final class project in which students will predict the future by collectively writing a short story starting at the birth of the ninth billion human.
Sections 016 and 017 The Journey: Act And Metaphor
Instructor: J.C. Todd
Section 016: TTh 11:15 – 12:45
Section 017: TTh 2:15 – 3:45
A journey can be seen as a manifestation of freedom, of resistance, of oppression, of intellectual engagement. Our aim is to develop critical insights into the journey and its structure as an act and as a metaphor. We will use a variety of sources: literature, history, cultural studies, science and our own travels, beginning our investigation as the first humans began their travels—on foot, examining the relationship of walking to consciousness. We will explore spaces where travelers might rest and reassess or wander: Bryn Mawr’s green spaces, cloister and labyrinth, the streets of Paris and the public squares and walkways of Philadelphia. Among the texts are classics such as the Sumerian myth of “The Descent of Inanna,” and more contemporary essays, fiction, graphic novel, and poetry by writers such as Charles Dickens, Allen Ginsberg, Jane Jacobs, Henry David Thoreau, and Virginia Woolf, as well as films and visual art. Engagement with these written and visual texts will lead to discussion, fieldwork, journaling, and analytical writing and revising toward final portfolios. Each student’s writing in this course will become a map of the journey of her critical engagement with the idea of journey. In addition to conferencing with the instructor, students will form a community of readers, commenting supportively on the writing of their peers. One Saturday afternoon field trip is mandatory; date TBA.
Sections 018 and 019 Poverty, Affluence and American Culture
Instructor: Matthew Ruben
Section 018: TTh 11:15-12:45
Section 019: TTh 2:15 – 3:45
Whether dramatized by images of the Great Depression and post-Katrina
New Orleans, or by the number of Americans lacking health insurance or
facing foreclosure, poverty is one of the most persistent problems and
controversial issues in the United States. Along with its obvious
economic dimensions, poverty has a wide variety of political and
cultural meanings. Through a selective, critical examination of
scholarly works, journalism, novels, and movies, this Balch Seminar will
explore the related themes of poverty, wealth, and the American Dream
in the U.S., from the 1860s to the present. Using work from authors and
directors as diverse as Benjamin Franklin, Malcolm X, Barbara
Ehrenreich, Sandra Cisneros, Spike Lee, and Richard Wright, the course
will look at how poverty, poor people, and class mobility have been
discussed and represented in the United States, and it will provide an
opportunity to explore how class and economic advancement impact how we
see the meaning of America.
As an Emily Balch Seminar, this course involves critical reading, in-class discussion and cogent, idea-driven academic essay writing with one-on-one writing conferences outside of class. Course materials are drawn from a variety of genres and fields, and are meant to promote rich, open-ended interpretation and discussion. Students will write a series of papers and will have the opportunity to revise their work.
Section 020 The Beginnings of Philosophy
Instructor: Robert Dostal
The leading question for this course is "what is philosophy?" We address this question by examining the historical beginnings of the western philosophical tradition in Greece. To introduce the beginnings in Greece we look briefly at short selections from epic poetry, history, and the so-called Pre-Socratic philosophers. We then take up three accounts of Socrates--Aristophanes (comic drama), Xenophon (history), and Plato's dialogues -- and consider the question "Who is Socrates?" We pursue Plato's explicitly philosophical identification by reading several dialogues which tell the story of Socrates trial and death: Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito. We read part of the Republic and conclude our reading of Plato with the Phaedrus which defines philosophy as a kind of erotic madness. We see how Aristotle develops this tradition of philosophy by reading selections from his works: Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Politics. Throughout the semester we consider questions that are both theoretical (what can we know?) and practical (what ought we do? what is best? what makes us happy?). We also consider the relation between knowledge and action, theory and practice. Students will write regularly about course texts and will participate in class discussion.
Section 021 The Wandering “I”
Instructor: Pim Higginson
This course examines how identities are constructed, altered, bypassed, deviated, or otherwise manipulated. Using texts such as Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun’s Sand Child and African American author Nella Larsen’s Passing, films such as The Crying Game and Boys Don’t Cry, as well as critical essays, we will look at questions of gender, sexuality, race, and class, with an eye to experiences of acculturation (the conscious or unconscious loss of an “original” culture in favor of a dominant culture), passing (whether between sexes, classes, or races), and/or self-invention. We will use a variety of different resources and you will be asked to contribute texts you have found on your own to the course. This seminar will consist of three related activities: 1) Broad and relatively extensive reading of texts (this will also include listening to music and watching movies or video clips) 2) Discussions in class conducted in various formats 3) Extensive critical writing (and rewriting). The goal of these activities is to familiarize you with the demands of college writing and assist you in becoming a more effective and refined critical thinker while introducing you to a fascinating topic.
Section 022 Anxious Masculinity
Instructor: Raymond Ricketts
Certain figures of masculinity grab center stage in our cultural memory, whether they are actual or mythical, heroic or vicious: the chivalrous knight, firemen, stoic cowboys, dandies, the mob boss, the tomboy, the bad boy, the family man, the computer geek, “Rosie the Riveter.” Far from expressing any timeless essence of masculinity, these examples reveal the highly contingent and emotionally fraught nature of masculinity, especially in relation to history, politics, the body, sexuality, and popular culture. In this course, students will focus on this malleability through interrogating how we often define masculinity by opposing it to femininity; we’ll explore masculinity as a concept that can be detached from the male body, and ways in which social and cultural forces construct both genders. In examining the ongoing cultural construction of masculinity, specifically, we may conclude that its only “timeless” aspect is its constant vulnerability to subversion and change. Topics will include the important connections among masculinity, race, and class; the roots of recent phenomena such as the sensitive man, the men’s movement, “bear” culture, and the increased visibility of female-to-male transgender expression; homoeroticism, queer masculinity, and female masculinity; and representations of masculinity in popular culture. Texts may include Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, Susan Faludi’s Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, Susan Bordo’s The Male Body, C.J. Pascoe’s Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School, Judith Halberstam’s Female Masculinity, and others. We’ll also read autobiographical accounts of female-to-male transgender people, as well as screen the 2001 documentary Southern Comfort. Students will write frequently, contribute to class discussion, and have the opportunity to revise their work.
Section 023 Stranger Than Fiction: From Realism to the Fantastic
Instructor: Daniel Torday
TTh 11:15 – 12:45
While we often think of fiction and nonfiction as distinct genres, the lines that divide them are not always so clear. How do we read George Orwell’s account of seeing a man executed by hanging differently if Orwell actually witnessed the event—or if it was “only a story,” as he claimed long after “The Hanging” was published? How can reading both the fictional accounts of the Russian Red Cavalry found in Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry Stories and earlier accounts of the same events found in Babel’s diaries help us understand why some writers of war narratives present their texts as nonfiction, while others write fiction clearly derived from first-hand experience? And what’s with WG Sebald’s crossing the lines between memoir and novel? In this course we will use close readings of a group of stories, novels, essays, and films that blur the lines separating nonfiction and fiction—in form and in content—to make inquiry into the nature of the dialectics of the reporting of empirical facts, memory and storytelling. While engaging these texts, we will develop and hone the writing skills expected on the college level.
Section 024 Ecological Imaginings
Instructor: Anne Dalke
This course invites you to re-think how we represent the world. We'll focus on the diversity of languages available to us for linking natural and cultural ecosystems, as we study the emerging biological and social systems within which we all live. We'll start by attending to the words we chose and the shape of the sentences we construct, then look at essays and stories that express the shaping action of humans in the environment; we'll pay particular attention to the modes most used by women. We'll conclude by reflecting more broadly on the ways others have written, and how we ourselves might write, about matters of ecological concern. We will make our own weekly observations of the world in which we live, work and imagine, and bi-monthly forays into the world beyond the classroom, seeking a variety of ways of expressing our ecological interests. We'll read both classical and cutting edge ecolinguistic, ecofeminist, ecocritical and ecoesthetic theory, along with a wide range of exploratory, speculative, and imaginative essays and stories. Possibilities include texts by Henry Thoreau, Rebecca Solnit, Marilyn Waring, Gary Snyder, Ursula LeGuin, Paula Gunn Allen, Mary Austin, Rachel Carson, Carolyn Merchant, Susan Griffin, Terry Tempest Williams, Michael Pollan, Jamaica Kincaid, and Evelyn White.
Section 025 Discipline and Disputation
Instructor: Elly Truitt
TTh 11:15 – 12:45
The university is a medieval institution. The bachelor’s degree is a medieval credential. The liberal arts education has roots that reach back even further, to classical antiquity. In this course, students will investigate the formation of the liberal arts and the evolution of the curriculum as well as the locations of learning—religious institutions and early universities. Additionally, students will learn about the medieval production of knowledge, through commentary, annotation, exegesis, and manuscript books. In conjunction with the topics of this course, students will also consider what it means to be in engaged in a noble pursuit that stretches back over a thousand years. Readings range from early medieval theological treatises and allegorical poetry, scholarly articles, medieval autobiography and philosophy.
Section 026 Greek Mythology
Instructor: Asya Sigelman
“Achilles’ heel,” “Oedipus complex,” “Pandora’s box,” “Herculean labor”: Greek mythology lives on in our everyday language and culture, though we usually don’t stop to reflect on the ancient stories behind common expressions such as these. This course will introduce the student to the treasure trove of Greek myth that has come down to us in the forms of prose, poetry, and drama across more than two millennia. From century to century, these ancient stories inspired countless thinkers, poets, painters, sculptors, and writers to elaboration and reinterpretation, from medieval poetic retellings to twentieth-century films. As we enter the magical world of Greek gods and titans, of heroes and monsters, of mortal women so beautiful their face alone “launch’d a thousand ships” and of mortal men so cunning they could descend live into the Underworld and come back out again, we will seek to get a better understanding of the cultural and historic context in which these myths arose and the significance they had for the Greeks themselves. We will also explore how and why these myths survived the centuries and why they continue to be important in our modern world. Ultimately, we will ask, What do Greek myths tell us about the relationships of gods and humans, order and chaos, women and men, freedom and slavery, reality and magic, life and death—and how do these ancient perceptions, filtered through many centuries of subsequent history, compare with and continue to influence our modern attitudes to these same subjects.
Section 27 Breaking: Creative Disruption in Experience, Knowledge, and Writing
Instructor: Alice Lesnick
“Only Connect!” With these words, expressing the thoughts of a beloved literary heroine, novelist E.M. Forster affirmed a deep human impulse: to bridge, to fuse, to merge. This course begins where this impulse ends -- with the decision to make a deliberate break in a way of thinking or living. While human socialization through institutions such as family, school, and religion often emphasizes connection, we will examine the arts of disruption. Through reading and writing memoir, theory, and critical inquiry, we will explore the dynamics of breaking – intellectual and emotional, personal and social – and how to use breaking as a lens on two areas of academic and activist work. We will begin by working with The Breaking Project, an online, emergent anthology devoted to the exploration of breaking in essay, poetry, video, and artwork. Additional genre-breaking texts (print, visual, and video), including by graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, writer Jeannette Winterson, and painter Jennifer Bartlett, will follow before we undertake a study of educational reform in terms of breaking, of disruption. The final phase of the course will offer each student the opportunity to investigate an area of personal academic interest using breaking as an analytic frame and tool. In addition to intensive writing, revision, and consultation, frequent informal writing and sustained writing groups will provide a community structure to support students’ growth as writers and thinkers.
Section 28 Imagine: The Creative Process and the Occasion of Cultural Life
Instructor: Mark Lord
TTh 11:15 – 12:45
This seminar is loosely structured around ideas about the creative processes that artists use in imagining and making their work and the various roles that the spectator/reader has in responding to creative work. In addition to recent writing about the work of the imagination, like Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine and Peter Handke’s The Weight of the World, we will explore modern and contemporary work in visual art, writing, live performance, and music, including Wim Wenders’ film Wings of Desire, Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America, Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, Are You my Mother?, and Lee Breur and Bob Telson’s Gospel at Colonus, a musical adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus.
Students will write about these and other works in relation to the works’ own senses of themselves as instances of creativity and touchstones for ideas about the imagination. We will also make use of event as a metaphor for approaching works of art and our critical responses to it and to the role of the imagination in contemporary cultural life. The seminar will consider the occasions of our written responses in relation to the form of the response and those responses will vary from letters, to tweets, to the multi-draft essays that will be the focus of our work. Students should expect to attend performances, lectures, readings, and film screenings both on and off-campus in addition to assigned reading. Participants will share writing with one another and will have responses to their writing from their classmates in addition to the opportunity for feedback and discussion at bi-weekly conferences with the instructor.
Sections 029 and 030 Adaptation: Identity, Desires, and the Shifting of Media
Instructor: Kristina Baumli
Section 029 MW 1:00 – 2:30
Section 030 MW 2:30 – 4:00
This seminar looks at narratives adapted from one medium to another. Texts may include book and movie versions of Alice in Wonderland and Breakfast at Tiffany's; Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories and the musical Cabaret; Plato's The Symposium and the film Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Allison Bechdel's graphic memoir Are You My Mother?; and possibly the interesting variations on The Nutcracker.