with Andrea Fontenot
How much thought have you given to Wonder Woman—the first female superhero? Is she a feminist intervention into the male dominated comic world? Or is she another unrealistic idealized version of femininity in service of patriarchy? Moving to our current moment, we can ask the same questions about Lady Gaga: Does she offer a new more open, even anarchic, vision of the possibilities for young women in the 21st century—a new era of “gaga feminism”? Or is she just the latest version in a line of seemingly transgressive, power divas that nonetheless perpetuate a valuation of women based on narrow beauty standards and a male-desire driven version of sexuality? Why are there so few top-billed female directors, composers, or heads of entertainment industry companies when some of the major films and studios were made and run by women? How can feminist modes of criticism interact with entertainment culture in ways that are meaningful and helpful to our understanding of both? This course will provide a range of readings, studies, and examples of cultural analysis to support students as they develop their own responses to these and other questions that spur from the paradoxes of a now century-plus long media landscape where women are front and center and yet still struggle for equality of opportunity, representation, and self-determination. Along with a host of selected readings, and the great fun we will have listening to music, watching films and television, reading so-called “trashy” literature (50 Shades of Grey, anyone?) and debating the roles and status that women have carved out in the realm of popular culture, this class is above all designed to help students gain the critical thinking and writing skills necessary to excel in 2nd, 3rd and 4th year Critical Studies coursework. There will be a strong emphasis on writing, revision, and peer review as students complete short weekly writing assignments, a final 6–7-page paper, and a short oral presentation.
with Michael Bryant
Students in this course will look at the current state of the Earth from an environmental perspective. We will look at the causes, consequences and possible cures of various environmental stresses to ecosystems. We start by looking at human population growth and ask the questions: how can we understand and possibly alter a pattern of population growth that is seemingly out of control? We will then change focus to look at the consequences of humans on natural resources and the effects this has on habitat for humans and for other organisms. In particular we will look at the rapid loss of biodiversity and global warming. A question we will encounter repeatedly is “How do we get humans to change their behavior in a way that will promote better environmental stewardship?” Many solutions have been proposed to halt or even reverse environmental damage. These range from the enactment of laws, creating economic incentives, the development of new technologies and even tapping into emotional ties to nature. We will critically evaluate the science behind, and when possible the success of, these hypothesized solutions.
with Ken Ehrlich
Considering the legacy of West Coast modern architectural pioneers like Rudolf Schindler, John Lautner A. Quincy Jones and Richard Neutra as a starting point, this class examines a broad range of recent architecture produced on the U.S. West coast. Ranging from off-the-grid and Do-it-Yourself homes built in Esalen in the sprit of the whole earth catalog to slick hotels constructed in downtown L.A. in the 1980's, the course will examine the incredible diversity of architecture of the region – both built and unbuilt – and examine the ways that identity and imagination are linked to the built environment. During the course, we will critically examine the architecture of Eric Owen Moss, Morphosis, Frank Gehry, Hodgetts + Fung, Christopher Alexander, Koning Eizenberg, John C. Portman Jr., Albert C Martin Jr., OMA, Venturi, Scott, Brown, Michael Graves and John Elgin Wolf, among others.
with Niki Rousso-Schindler
As the discipline originally chartered to classify ‘races of man,’ images and their interpretation have long been important components of anthropology. From early anthropometrics and photographic recordings of rituals and daily practices, to ethnographic film and multimedia works, anthropologists have integrated visuals in a range of forms and uses that closely parallel technological developments in imaging. This extensive integration, however, has been accompanied by a conflicting set of positions regarding visuals and their relationship to methodology, representation, and interpretation.
This course explores issues of debate that visuals stimulate in ethnographic projects as well as the methods used to produce them. It takes a survey approach to anthropological visuals, with an emphasis on works that have shifted the perspective of how images and their production impact relationships among subjects, between subjects and ethnographers, between ethnographers and their work, and between these works and their audiences. In addition to films and readings, students will conduct fieldwork with a group of their choosing. Students will complete a series of visual exercises that will enable them to engage with the issues of representation considered in the course.
with Anthony McCann
This class asks two basic questions: what is inspiration, what is expression? As artists we use these words constantly. But what do we really mean when we say them? How does one become “inspired”? Where does “inspiration” come from? And what does it mean to “express”? What is it we “express” in our work? Do we express our “selves,” our “visions,” our “ideas”? We will spend this course looking at different ways of answering these questions especially in examples taken from the field of poetry. We will also look at (and listen to) work from other arts, visual and performative. Of special concern in this class will be the relation of our own conditions of embodiment, of being creatures with bodies, to expression and inspiration. This means we will be looking at the relation of our perceptions of the world to how we become inspired to express whatever it is that is expressed in our work. Students will bring their own experiences in their own métiers to bear upon the ideas, poetry and other expressive work we look at in class as part of coming to their own conclusions about what it means to them to be “expressive” and “inspired.” Some texts we will look at include work by Emily Dickinson, Eileen Myles, Jack Spicer, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Frantz Fanon, Larry Eigner, CA Conrad, Robert Creeley and Juliana Spahr. There will be options for serious creative assignments. Creative Writing minors may apply to receive Creative Writing credits instead of Humanities credits.
with James Wiltgen
“The American cinema constantly shoots and reshoots a single fundamental film, which is the birth of a nation-civilization;” & “American cinema had the means to save its dream by passing through nightmares.” (Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image)
What are some of the crucial dynamics of political & historical change in the United States over the last one hundred years? In what ways can those forces be understood in terms of the film text and the film image? Utilizing several theoretical approaches, this course will examine a number of themes, including class conflict, state power, the rise of corporations and banks, nationalism, war, gender issues, urbanization, racial tensions, immigration, religion, and consumerism, as they unfold in the United States over time. These elements will then be analyzed in terms of film, both as symptom and as assemblage, focusing on the dense contextual landscape as well as possible heterogeneous connections and affiliations. The course will also address formal elements of film and their relation to content and history, including the frame, montage, the cut, and the image. Finally, a number of filmmakers will be addressed, including D.W. Griffith, Oscar Micheaux, Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, and Maya Deren, as well as contemporary Hollywood and independent artists.
with Gary Mairs
Comedy isn’t just funny, it’s where boundaries are destroyed, where taboo is banished, where transgression and subversion aren’t just allowed but are the source of the genre’s greatest vitality.
The roots of the American comedy film lie in vaudeville and folklore, in comic literature and satire, and in in the rich traditions of the tall tale and the trickster story. In this course we will explore both the genre and its sources, taking in a broad overview of the best American comic films while reading writers like Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, Philip Roth, Ishmael Reed and Robert Crumb as well as watching innovative standup material from earlier eras (Lenny Bruce, Nichols & May, Richard Pryor, Andy Kauffman) and today (Chris Rock, Louis CK, Tig Notaro).
In American movies, comedy is often where we first speak about race, about class, about sex and gender, where figures on the margins – Jews, women, blacks, gays – break into the cultural mainstream with their (often angry) voices intact. Though comedies are often profoundly reactionary (and even in progressive works, the mainstream almost always asserts its hold by film’s end), these eruptions of difference, of criticism and anarchic play, push the culture forward.
Screenings will include feature films from the silent era to the very recent past, with clips from related films, standup comedy, sitcoms and recorded comedy. Students will be expected to show up to each screening having read and screened additional material to contextualize the works screened.
with Kim Russo
Don’t write well about your work? Take this course. You’ll learn how to write artist statements, grant and residency proposals, project proposals, letters of introduction and inquiry, and press releases with less dread and anxiety. Collectively, we'll deconstruct and assess writing by established artists and performers about their own work. Individually, you'll do investigative research into your creative field in order to better contextualize your own practice. You’ll learn very specific, practical tips that will improve your writing skills, and you’ll end the course with a portfolio of writing about your work that will help you attract funders and supporters. You'll also learn how to lessen your anxiety around writing, as well as how to make it fun and empowering.
with Leslie Tamaribuchi
This course is designed to introduce principles of fundraising, develop skills to create a case for giving, understand donor cultivation and explore a range of strategies to raise financial and other support for an artist's work. Students will practice clear and compelling writing about creative projects and develop an actionable fundraising plan to support them.
with Maureen Furniss
This course covers the history of character animation (primarily within the American studio system) from its beginnings in the early 20th century to the present. It focuses on studio and individual styles, as well as the influences of technological development, other arts, and historical events (including political and sociological shifts). Students will be exposed to a wide range of examples through screenings in each class and will engage in critical discussion during class and within course papers. A flipbook project demonstrates the student’s knowledge of basic animation principles.
with Linda Dorn
This is an introductory drawing and design course using the figure to explore individual concepts of story and character. We will be dealing with issues of real life anatomy, line/shape, volume/weight, distortion, color theory, scale/perspective, addition/subtraction, and composition. This class will cultivate a high level of observation, creativity, design, abstraction and its application to film/animation.
with Robert Lence
This intensive class will focus on all aspects of Story, as it relates to animation. Students will get a real immersion into the process of how stories are generated and developed at the major animation studio level. We will cover all aspects of Storytelling for animation, including: How to pick a concept that lends itself well to animation; How to develop that idea, both visually, and from a screenwriting standpoint; and how to create believable and interesting animated film characters. The course will delve into many of the basics of storyboarding, such as staging, cutting and continuity. Students will also learn about the different types of Storyboarding, and what their functions and considerations are. Many examples of professional concept drawings, storyboards, and story reels will be brought in for review and discussion. We will also spend time going over how to pitch and present your ideas effectively, using techniques that are taught at the studios.