CAS 100 COURSES Fall 2016
Fairy Tales Uncloaked
Most of us are familiar with fairy tales through the works of the Brothers Grimm and their widescreen adaptations by Walt Disney. But these stories span a wide range of time and space, and they are not always soft and friendly. This course will introduce students not only to the fairy tales that came before they were mass marketed, but also those tales which were retold in resistance to cultural pressures. Fairy tales are a site for exploring questions of justice, community, and gender. They offer warnings against sexual danger and social impropriety as often as they provide ideals and social values. We will read and watch fairy tales old and new in concert with folkloristic scholarship and feminist theory, exploring their subversive potential and considering their impact on those who consume them.
Food and Bodies
We obsess over food, particularly about the relationship between our diets and our bodies. This obsession is not new, and it has changed dramatically over time. This course focuses on the historical and contemporary relationships between food and bodies, drawing on both scientific and cultural ideas about eating. It also examines the ways that companies have deployed ideas about diets and bodies to influence what people eat.
Imagining Technology in the Past, Present, and Future
While new technologies are exciting, imagining the next technology is perhaps even more exciting. Sometimes our imaginations of the future are grounded in the possible, but people have often extended their imaginations to what they wish—or fear—the future will be. Looking at sources from the past and the present, this course looks at how past predictions about new technologies have compared to historical reality. It then turns to the present and looks at what we can learn about the future of technology from studying contemporary predictions of the future.
Languages of Place
Places are deeply specific, complex, and resonant for us, in terms of memory, emotion, and association: our senses of self, of home, of belonging are all to some degree rooted in place(s). Writer David Malouf asserts a reciprocal relation between places and subjects, arguing that “real work of culture” lies in “making accessible the richness of the world we are in, of bringing density to ordinary, day-to-day living in a place.” Taking the philosophy of place and geographers such as Yi-Fu Tuan as a starting point, this course will consider specific places and their expression in the arts. Our questions will be our guides: what, after all, is place? And how is place made present via language or any art? How do we understand ourselves in relationship to place, and by what means does art carry us along for the ride?
Lyric Adventures & Poetic Forms
What is poetry? Poet and scholar Myung Mi Kim has said that “Poetry is simply how you participate in language, and we all do that.” While poets may feel, see and hear poetry everywhere, those who do not consider themselves to be poets may wonder what makes something a poem or even why poems matter. Building on Kim’s framework of inclusivity, this course will introduce students to the impressive and exciting range of experimental techniques and forms that make up the field of contemporary poetry. We will read works by a diverse range of writers, all of which will broaden our definition of what poetry is and how we can engage with it. We will treat writing as an essential component of thinking and engage a combination of creative and critical writing practices.
The Medieval World in Popular Culture
From The Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones, we are surrounded by images and fabrications of medieval life. In this class, we explore what is peculiarly modern about these uses of the medieval world, and how our own culture and identity is reflected in these fictionalized images, whether they are overt or hidden. Vikings, wizards, and dragons are easy to identify as “medieval”—but what about Captain America? Why is “medieval” a shorthand for brutal violence? This course will survey the popular culture that borrows from the medieval world alongside the medieval sources from which it came. In so doing, we will ask: what is accurate or inaccurate about these medievalisms? Should we care about their historical accuracy? What do they say about our own priorities?
Poetry of Struggle: Writers on Social Justice
Who controls what we get to imagine? Do words have an effect on the world? Writers have always given their audiences intimate contact with the complexities of human experience. Where politics and media tend to be controlled by market powers, the world of literary art lies predominantly outside of what can be bought or sold. In this course, we will explore how the poetic imagination can extend our understanding of what is possible, bear witness to social and environmental suffering, and counter the apathy, amnesia or cynicism of our age. We will read a range of contemporary poets whose work addresses social issues such as racism, sexism, environmental catastrophe and imperialism. These works will invite us to think critically about subjective experience in the context of an unequal social world. We will treat writing as an essential component of thinking and engage a combination of creative and critical writing practices.
Reading the Graphic Novel
Part popular culture, part literary and artistic medium, graphic novels (or comic books) have long been objects of allure. Only relatively recently have graphic novels moved from childhood and cult fascinations to wide appeal, winning literary prizes and media interest, as well as mainstream publishing contracts. Beyond the pure pleasure of the image-dense narrative, how do we “read” these hybrid texts? What are their aesthetics, methods of production and consumption, and role in our culture? We will address these issues through reading and discussing contemporary examples of the graphic novel.