Afrofuturism is a practice and art form that allows black people to imagine themselves in a future beyond the trauma of the past and present. In this seminar students of all backgrounds are invited to participate in visiting some of the pioneers of Afrofuturist thought and literature, learning from visual and performing artists that lean on Afrofuturist principles in their practice, as well as becoming familiar with how the emerging technology like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are used to deepen the impact of Afrofuturist discourse.
Course Offerings (Fall Term)
Afronaut Ascension: A Creative Exploration of Afrofuturism & the Avant Garde
Instructors: Shariffa Ali
Poetry in the Political & Sexual Revolution of the 1960s & 70s
What does artistic production look like during a time of cultural unrest? How did America's poets help shape the political landscape of the American 60s and 70s, decades that saw the rise of the Black Panthers, 'Flower Power,' and Vietnam War protests? Through reading poetry, studying films and engaging with the music of the times we will think about art's ability to move the cultural needle and pose important questions about race, gender, class, and sexuality. We will study Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Audre Lorde, Eileen Myles, and others. We will talk about The Beats, The San Francisco Renaissance and The New York School poets.
Instructors: Alexander Dimitrov
Self to Selfie
This course explores the concept "self" in anthropology and psychoanalysis. In many cultural traditions, from Buddhism in Asia to psychoanalysis in the West, the self is an important object of speculation. Through written and visual material (ethnography, psychoanalysis, literature, philosophy, and film) we examine three questions: How is the self formed? Under what conditions can the self change? What is the self's relationship to the phantasmatic and digital? Our goal is to arrive at a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the self as an object of study, and of the ethical and social implications of this understanding.
Instructors: John Borneman
American Identity at a Crossroads?
Is America a country built on systemic oppression or a land of opportunity where anybody can flourish and prosper? We engage the key texts in discussions on race, religion, class, and gender to evaluate these conflicting claims. We examine the meaning of 'justice' in social justice movements by assessing their core tenets alongside the ideas and values long undergirding American institutions. The seminar encourages students to reflect on what it means to live in America in this pivotal cultural moment. Students will also have the opportunity to meet guest speakers, themselves leading figures at the forefront of these debates.
Happiness and Being Human in Catholic Thought
This course offers, to interested students of any background or worldview, an introduction to the Catholic intellectual tradition from its beginnings with the New Testament and Apostolic Fathers through the modern day.
Instructors: Marcus Gibson
The Other 'F' Word - Success and Innovation's Sibling?
Instructors: John Danner
Everyday Enchantment: Blurring the Boundary Between the Arts and Life
This seminar seeks enchantment in everyday experience, considering the allure and the danger of mixing up life and art. In addition to studying and writing about historical artworks, students will research current-day practice and will complete open-ended creative projects. Experience in any artistic discipline is welcome but is by no means required; more important is a spirit of curiosity and exploration. For our purposes, "art" refers not only to visual art but to a wide variety of creative undertakings that result in performances, objects, rituals, stunts, and other possibilities we will soon discover.
Instructors: Barbara White
Global Poverty - Who is Responsible?
Global poverty is enormous in scale and insupportable in its moral consequences. More than 700 million people live on less than $1.90 a day. A child born in Spain today can expect to live to 83 years; a child born in Sierra Leone or Nigeria has a life expectancy of less than 55 years. The likelihood of dying under the age of five is 20 times higher in sub-Saharan Africa than in Australia or New Zealand. Who is responsible for this global calamity-rich countries, poor countries, you and me? And what should be done? This course addresses the moral responsibility for, and the drivers of, global poverty.
Instructors: Varun Gauri
Languages are systems of communication, but they are also social institutions, ideological battlegrounds, instruments used to homogenize populations, define citizenship, and create social hierarchies. In this seminar, we discuss language as part of the social, cultural, and political machinery that enabled the rise of the nation-state, linguistic colonialism, hybrid identities and multilingualism in the 21st century. We approach language as social practice, raise critical awareness of the ways in which language is linked to cultural value and national identity, and deconstruct the notions of linguistic authority and nativism.
Instructors: Mariana Bono
What Makes for a Meaningful Life? A Search
With the pressures and frenzied pace of contemporary American life, it might sometimes feel as if there is little time to contemplate the question of what makes for a meaningful life. How does a person find deeper meaning for him/herself? What is the purpose of my life? What is the relationship of the meaning of my life to a larger purpose? How do our lives fit into the world around us? The course explores, from many perspectives, some of the responses to the "big questions" of life. Readings and films are taken from different cultures, different time periods, and different spheres of human endeavor and experience.
Instructors: Ellen Chances