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The Art of Activism (A01)

How do social movements get moving? Artists and creatives are behind many of the most significant social movements of our time, and continue to shape the way protest and activism look through present day. We will study, discuss, and respond to the role of artists in social movements such as: American abolitionism and civil rights movements; suffrage and Feminist movements in the United States; HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s; Occupy Wall Street; and Environmentalism. Students will have the opportunity to research and develop their own activist art projects based in issues, causes, or concerns of their personal choice.

The Art of Mindfulness (A02)

Are you ready to meet you? In this course, we will begin the important work of being with and accepting ourselves without judgment. As our guide, we will engage daily in various mindful practices including meditation, journaling, movement, walking, drawing, storytelling, and more. We will study, read, and discuss the work of artists and writers who use these practices in their creative work. We will write and create from personal experience, supported by the writing and experiences of those who came before us. Along the way, we will learn many practical skills for stress management. This course requires courage, honesty, and an open mind and heart. Are you nervous? You are ready.

Fairy Tales Uncloaked (A03)

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 (A04)

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.

The Environment in Historical Perspective (A05)

What has the environment meant to different people throughout history? How and why have our conceptions of nature changed over time? What lessons can we draw from past ideas about the environment—and how do past ideas continue to influence the present? This course examines the environment in history, showing how we have come to conceptualize past environments and how people in different times understood these environments.

Lyric Experiments & Poetic Forms (A06)

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 Lord of the Rings in Medieval and Modernist Context (A07)

The legacy of The Lord of the Rings in American culture is pervasive and powerful. In this writing-intensive and reading-intensive course, we will explore the roots of this series in both Tolkien’s medieval scholarship and the trauma he experienced during World War I, and we will discuss the impact of Tolkien’s work on subsequent literature and popular culture. In addition to reading all of The Lord of the Rings, we will read firsthand accounts from World War I, feminist critiques, disability theory, literary theory on modernist literature, and a wealth of medieval sources from which Tolkien borrowed, as well as some critical work written by medievalists. For the term capstone project, students will have the opportunity to write a term paper on The Lord of the Rings or its author; to pursue an historical project such as researching the world wars or the medieval period; or to design a project studying the legacy of medievalism in popular fantasy media, such as the Game of Thrones series or the Disney Princess brand.

Poetry of Struggle: Writers on Social Justice (A08)

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.