Courses

Courses

Fall Semester 2013
  • LAS-E380

    "PRINT THE LEGEND": THE WESTERN AS FILM AESTHETIC, NATIONAL HISTORY, AND INTERNATIONAL MYTH

    Credits:

    Taking its cue from Clint Eastwood who proclaimed, "As far as I'm concerned, Americans don't have any original art except Western movies and jazz," this course will analyze the Western film as an art form in and of itself. We will discuss Westerns in terms of their specific aesthetic and technological influence on the medium, their cultural expression of a national political unconscious, and their global function as the meta-narrative of space. This course will tackle these discussions through a chronological unfolding of the genre starting with the Edison Company's 1898 Westerns and Edwin S. Porter's The Great Train Robbery (1903) through the Golden Age of John Ford and Howard Hawks' films and the reciprocal translation of Akira Kurosawa's epics, and finally, to the variants of the Spaghetti, Revisionist, and genre-bending contemporary and postmodern Westerns of Dennis Hopper, Sam Peckinpah, John Sayles, Jim Jarmusch, Ang Lee, and Wim Wenders. There will be required readings in critical film theory, weekly screenings, analytical essays, and oral presentations.
  • LAEL-LE09

    ACTING WORKSHOP

    Credits: 3.00

    Taught by a working professional actor/director, this introduction to acting will lead the beginning student through the artistic process involved in acting for the stage and other media. Through exercises, study of technique, scene work and improvisation, the student will work to develop natural abilities and will become familiar with the working language and tools of the modern actor. Emphasis in this class will be on the physical self, mental preparation, the imagination, and discipline. Written work will include keeping a journal and writing a character analysis. Perfect attendance in this course is vital and mandatory.
    Sophomore and above
  • LAS-E251

    AMERICAN LITERATURE I: BEGINNING TO CIVIL WAR

    Credits: 3.00

    American literature I focuses on the major writers of American literature from Puritan times through the Civil War. These writers include the puritan poets Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor; the spokesperson for the enlightenment, Benjamin Franklin; and the deeply influential writers of the period of American romanticism: Emerson, Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Frederick Douglass, Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman. Students will keep journals, write three papers, and take mid-term and final exams. The course includes a field trip to Concord, Massachusetts, the place where the lives of several of the writers of the American Renaissance converged.
  • LAS-E412

    BEGINNING FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP

    Credits: 3.00

    While the writing of fiction involves only the writer and the page, the group workshop affords the writer the opportunity to explore, develop and refine his or her work in a small community focused on a single goal. This environment of craft and creativity is particularly critical to the beginning writer. As with any craft, revision is the key to effective storytelling. The revision process will be emphasized. Short fiction by leading writers will be read and discussed; elements of craft will be explored; students will learn to deliver criticism in a supportive, constructive way; but learning by doing will comprise the majority of the class. Writing will begin in the first class, leading to small, peer-driven workshop groups and culminating in a full class workshop at semester's end. Students will produce three stories throughout the semester, all of which will be workshopped and revised. The student's engagement in the course, participation and attendance, will drive the final grades.
    Sophomore and above
  • LAS-E411

    BEGINNING POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP

    Credits: 3.00

    The Beginning Poetry Writing Workshop focuses on the creation and appreciation of works of literature; the education of students in diverse traditions of poetry writing, performance, publication, and scholarship; and discovery and innovation in the literary arts. Although students at all levels of undergraduate and graduate study can take the course, our commitment is to beginning a practice in poetry and sustaining it for a period of twelve weeks, and perhaps beyond. In this course, students will establish a writing practice, develop and articulate a poetics (your commitments as a poet), write a collection of poetry, perform and publish poems, and curate and produce events and/or publications.
    Sophomore and above
  • LAS-E211

    BRITISH LITERATURE I

    Credits: 3.00

    Concentrating on classic texts that still appeal to most readers, we will read and discuss major (and some minor) poems, plays and prose works by Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Johnson, and others, reviewing British literary history from the Middle Ages to the 18th century.
  • LAS-E502

    CONTEMPORARY CRITICAL THEORY

    Credits: 3.00

    This course will provide students with a foundation in the major movements, debates, and thinkers of 20th- and 21st-century critical theory. We will begin from both Marxist and psychoanalytic engagements with semiotics, visuality, mass media, sexuality, and representation. Proceeding through structuralism and post structuralism, we will examine the important contemporary debates about the individual's relationship to identity, aesthetics, power, history, technology, and the lived environment taking place in recent feminism, queer and postcolonial theory, and eroticism. No previous familiarity with critical theory is required. Critics will include Marx, Freud, Lacan, Foucault, Benjamin, Lukacs, Adorno, Barthes, Derrida, Althusser, Crary, Baudrillard, Butler, Harraway, Said, Chow, and Zizeck.
  • LAS-E300

    CONTEMPORARY NARRATIVES

    Credits:

    This course examines contemporary American fiction and film, meaning that the narratives (family narratives, historical narratives, and so on) were written or produced within the past twenty years. Specific titles will change each semester in an effort to study current ideas and styles. Writers of significant stature in American literature, like Philip Roth and Cormac McCarthy, will be included, as will notable new writers, including Adam Johnson, Marisha Pessl, and Jennifer Egan. A film will be scheduled and discussed during class each week. While some narratives directly confront contemporary American culture, others may look at the present indirectly, using history, or focus on events in other parts of the world, as in Paul Theroux's The Lower River. Attention will be paid to satirical portraits of the American family and to political narratives, whether they address global conflicts or the politics of work, family, friendship, identity, love, and sex. Short interpretive papers will be required in response to the fiction and film each week. Class attendance and thoughtful participation are mandatory.
  • LAS-C792

    DIALOGUE ACROSS THE DIASPORA: HAITI, SOUTH AFRICA, ART, AND NARRATIVES OF RESISTANCE

    Credits: 3.00

    On December 5, 2013, the exhibition "Reframing Haiti: The Gods Are Always Amongst the People" exhibit will open at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. This course will take advantage of that occasion to engage in the dialogue between Haiti and South Africa. This is an unprecedented opportunity for RISD students to work on a major international exhibition of art that represents a culture, a history, and a nation. We will be a part of the research surrounding the exhibition, researching the biographies of the artists and the times in which they lived. Informing the course will be the reading of historical narratives and narrative fiction. The tumultuous history of the two countries and the challenges of racial injustice and poverty will be explored in novels by Edwidge Danticat, René Depestré, Alex La Guma, Zakes Mda, Phaswane Mpe, and Antjie Krong. Questions we will be asking include: how does one narrate atrocity; what has been called "historical catastrophic" contexts? What is the role of the artist and art in impoverished circumstances? How do socially conscious artists, writers, and performers balance the aesthetic and the political in their work? What is the relationship between aesthetics and politics? How do South African and Haitian artists speak to each other through their works? What potentials are there for greater dialogue? This seminar will also involve weekly communication with South African students working on the exhibition in Cape Town.
    Also offered as HPSS-C792 and HAVC-C792. Register in the course for which type of credit is desired.
  • LAS-E209

    EPIC

    Credits: 3.00

    Epic narratives seem antagonistically devoted to their predecessors in the genre, and to the cultural mythologies of their own times. Students in this course will read a series of epics written from antiquity to the present, all which offer trenchant criticism of one another in some unexpected ways. Texts will include: Homer's Odyssey, Virgil's Aeneid, Dante's Inferno, Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Walcott's Omeros. There will be midterm and final examinations, an independently researched essay, and regular short writing assignments.
  • LAEL-LE70

    FUNDAMENTALS OF WRITING

    Credits: 3.00

    This course is designed to help students write clearly, correctly, and effectively with an emphasis on basic principles in action. Students will be assigned to Fundamentals of Writing if their entering test scores and/or a placement test indicate a need for intensive writing study. This course does not replace LAS-E101. Students must take LAS-E101 after successfully completing this course.
    Permission of Instructor Required. Contact the Division of Liberal Arts.
  • LAS-E415

    JOURNALISM WORKSHOP

    Credits: 3.00

    Journalistic writing is an act of seeing out into the world of observable fact. In this course, the student will be introduced to the craft of journalism, including feature articles, interviews, reporting on events, reviews and editorials. Emphasis will be placed on the exploration of our community and the discipline of presenting the results of our quest before the public.
    Sophomore and above
  • LAS-E101

    LITERATURE SEM: DESIGN IN WORDS

    Credits: 3.00

    An introduction to literary study that helps students develop the skills necessary for college-level reading, writing, research and critical thinking. Through exposure to a variety of literary forms and genres, historical periods and critical approaches, students are taught how to read closely, argue effectively and develop a strong writing voice. The course is reading and writing intensive and organized around weekly assignments.
    Required for graduation for all undergraduates, including transfers. There are no waivers for LAS-E101 except for transfer students who have taken an equivalent college course.
    For the Fall term, freshmen are pre-registered into this course. Upperclassmen may register for the Spring term by contacting the Liberal Arts Office.
  • LAS-E416

    PICTURE AND WORD

    Credits: 3.00

    A workshop-style course which combines English with a studio project for students with an interest in children's picture books. Students will learn to develop storytelling skills (imagination, language, plot, character, and voice) and illustration techniques (characterization, setting, page, layout) by studying picture books and completing writing and illustration assignments. For their final projects, students will be expected to produce an original text, sketch dummy, and two to four finished pieces of art. The class will also include an overview of publishing procedures and published writers/illustrators will be invited to share their experiences and critique students' work.
    Students who register for this course must register for both LAS E416 and ILLUS 5265 for a total of 6 credits. Open to Junior and Senior Illustration majors.
  • LAS-E431

    POETRY IN SERVICE TO SCHOOLS & THE COMMUNITY

    Credits: 3.00

    This course moves from the close study of good poetry--ancient, modern, contemporary--to the workshopping of student poetry, both in group and one-on-one sessions, and six-week intern-/partnerships with eleven classrooms in Providence. Students work together during the semester as a class, in smaller groups, and in pairs as they embark upon their service. The class is equal parts studio, guild and community service project.
  • LAS-E321

    REPRESENTING "UNREPRESENTABLE" ENVIRONMENTS: CLIMATE CHANGE

    Credits: 3.00

    One of the key questions environmental humanities scholars consider is how written, visual, and material texts register attitudes and anxieties about contemporary environmental issues. In this course we will examine poetry, fiction, non-fiction, photographs, films, and performance art that focus on climate change. Scientific research on anthropogenic climate change points, despite claims to the contrary made by climate skeptics, to a real, material ecological crisis. And while some empirical aspects of climate change are statistically quantifiable and relatively easy to present, other aspects of climate change-the anxieties it provokes, for instance-may be much more difficult to represent. Thus, as literary critic Richard Kerridge argues, on top of the real, material ecological crisis we are also beset by "a cultural crisis, a crisis of representation." Some questions this class will consider include: How do we define climate change? How do cultural texts represent the anxieties, uncertainties, and feelings that accompany climate change? What narratives about climate change are enabled or foreclosed by different genres? What material effects might different climate change narratives produce? This is a discussion-based class with occasional in-class writing, two 2-page single-spaced papers, and a final paper or project.
    One of the key questions environmental humanities scholars consider is how written, visual, and material texts register attitudes and anxieties about contemporary environmental issues. In this course we will examine poetry, fiction, non-fiction, photographs, films, and performance art that focus on climate change. Scientific research on anthropogenic climate change points, despite claims to the contrary made by climate skeptics, to a real, material ecological crisis. And while some empirical aspects of climate change are statistically quantifiable and relatively easy to present, other aspects of climate change-the anxieties it provokes, for instance-may be much more difficult to represent. Thus, as literary critic Richard Kerridge argues, on top of the real, material ecological crisis we are also beset by "a cultural crisis, a crisis of representation." Some questions this class will consider include: How do we define climate change? How do cultural texts represent the anxieties, uncertainties, and feelings that accompany climate change? What narratives about climate change are enabled or foreclosed by different genres? What material effects might different climate change narratives produce? This is a discussion-based class with occasional in-class writing, two 2-page single-spaced papers, and a final paper or project.
  • LAS-E761

    SEM: GLOBAL ENGLISHES

    Credits: 3.00

    An overview of the global careers of the English language and the literatures written in it from their period of ascendance during the height of British colonialism in the late-19th century to their proliferation in the postcolonial present. "Englishes" will be explored through topics like variations in the uses of literary English, translations and adaptations, multilingualism in literary texts while "Global" will be examined in relation to questions of colonialism and postcolonialism, identity and cultural politics, exile and migration, literary prizes and readership etc. Not surprisingly, most of the authors we will read are from ex-colonies of the British Empire which now have thriving English language literary traditions of their own like India and Pakistan, Nigeria and South Africa, Canada and Australia, Ireland and the Caribbean but also from the contemporary United Kingdom and its constituent regions like Scotland. Novels, plays, poems and short stories by authors including Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, G V Desani, Salman Rushdie, J M Coetzee, Wole Soyinka, Derek Walcott, Jean Rhys, Peter Carey, Brian Friel, Arundhati Roy and Irvine Welsh. Occasionally accompanied by selected short historical and theoretical texts. Workload: read a novel a week for most weeks, make one in-class presentation, write one short paper and one final research paper.
    Open to Sophomores and above.
  • LAS-E277

    SIGNIFYING LANDSCAPES: FICTION AND FILM

    Credits: 3.00

    Landscapes function as apocalyptic, political, urban, imaginary, and nostalgic sites of great significance in fiction and film. Films like Beasts of the Southern Wild, Take Shelter, and Melancholia illustrate the environment's profound role in recent apocalyptic narratives. Cormac McCarthy's fiction in general, and the Coen Brothers' interpretation of No Country for Old Men in particular, place human violence in harsh, brutal, and ancient settings. Bodies of land are divided, raped, ruined, and transformed from gardens into wastelands of abandoned machinery and landmines--as in Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown or Bahman Ghobadi's Turtles Can Fly. The Garden of Evening Mists, by Tan Twan Eng, like Amy Waldman's The Submission, places a garden at the center of the novel and its meaning. Other titles which provide an illustration of the course material include Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior, Krakauer and Penn's Into the Wild, Dave Eggers' Zeitoun, Josh Fox's documentary Gasland, Wes Anderson's nostalgic landscape in Moonrise Kingdom, and imaginary places in films like After Life (Kore-eda Hirokazu), Micmacs (Jean-Pierre Jeunet), and Marwencol (Jeff Malmberg). Titles will change each semester. Weekly writing assignments in response to the reading and films are required.
  • LAS-E201

    THE BIBLE AS NARRATIVE ART

    Credits:

    An introduction to the literary dimensions of the Bible with an emphasis on the poetry of its narratives. The intent is to develop creative and interpretive skills and to trace some dominant Biblical themes. Required text: The Oxford Study Bible and comparative contemporary commentaries.
  • LAS-E289

    THINGAMAJIGIRL: OBJECTS, HUMANS, FEMININITY

    Credits: 3.00

    What does it mean to be a "thing"? What does it feel like to be a "thing"? We all feel that we know how it feels to be "human": we are not "things," or "inanimate objects." But what we don't often question is the emotional and social valuations put upon the relationship between humans and things. For most of us, to be treated "as a thing" is to be de-humanized, de-valued, the nadir of existence. This course will question that binaristic tradition of conceptualizing objects through the lens of femininity. Cross-culturally but especially within the Western-European world, women have been treated as "things": toys, trophies, dolls, ornaments, are all metonyms for "female." By studying literary and cultural texts as well as art produced by women and women-identified authors, we will rigorously and critically examine the multiple functions, oppressive and subversive, of the linkages between "woman" and "thing," and in turn, re-think the idea of the object.
  • LAEL-LE47

    WITH A PEN OF LIGHT

    Credits: 3.00

    Hollywood films: how are they "written" by directors, performers, scriptcrafters, cameramen and producers? We will view a selection of films featuring directors who stamped Hollywood and us with their visions, often from other cultures. We will also study the direction Hollywood took in interpreting the Depression, War, and Recovery, and the direction stars, writers and designers chose in defining themselves. This is a course in criticism, history and articulate appreciation.
Wintersession 2014
  • LAS-E717

    *GUYANA: ART & SCIENCE

    Credits: 3.00

    In this course students will explore the artistic, cultural, economic, and scientific role of biodiversity in today's society. Using Guyana, a biodiverse English-speaking Caribbean nation located along the northeastern coastline of South America as an example, students will approach the topic of biodiversity from multiple perspectives, including the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and visual arts. Students will spend the first two weeks of Wintersession at RISD, learning about the social history of Guyana; studying its geological, ecological, and biological history; exploring literature and art produced by Guyanese authors and artists; and examining the challenges and opportunities of both conservation and ecotourism in a developing country. Students will then spend two weeks in Guyana where they will explore the bustling capitol city of Georgetown and do fieldwork at the Karanambu Trust House, a biodiversity research and training station located in the sparsely-populated North Rupununi region of the country. The course finishes with a wrap-up session at RISD.
    Students must also register for co-requisite LAEL-LE97.
    Open to Sophomores and Above.
    Permission of instructor required
    Estimated Travel Cost: $3107.00
    ***Off-Campus Study***
  • LAEL-LE97

    *GUYANA: ART & SCIENCE

    Credits: 3.00

    In this course students will explore the artistic, cultural, economic, and scientific role of biodiversity in today's society. Using Guyana, a biodiverse English-speaking Caribbean nation located along the northeastern coastline of South America as an example, students will approach the topic of biodiversity from multiple perspectives, including the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and visual arts. Students will spend the first two weeks of Wintersession at RISD, learning about the social history of Guyana; studying its geological, ecological, and biological history; exploring literature and art produced by Guyanese authors and artists; and examining the challenges and opportunities of both conservation and ecotourism in a developing country. Students will then spend two weeks in Guyana where they will explore the bustling capitol city of Georgetown and do fieldwork at the Karanambu Trust House, a biodiversity research and training station located in the sparsely-populated North Rupununi region of the country. The course finishes with a wrap-up session at RISD.
    Students must also register for co-requisite LAS-E717.
    Open to Sophomores and Above.
    Permission of instructor required
    Estimated Travel Cost: $3107.00
    ***Off-Campus Study***
  • LAS-E422

    ADVANCED FICTION WRITING WKSHP

    Credits: 3.00

    The advanced workshop assumes that students have some experience with writing fiction and are ready for an environment that will challenge them to hone, revise, and distill their craft. A writer begins inspired by dreams, language, a face in a crowd. But inspiration is only the beginning of a writer's work. In this course we'll study form, theme, voice, language, character, and plot. We'll also read and talk about stories by masters of the craft. The aim of the workshop is to help you discover what your stories want to be and fulfill the promise of your original vision.

    Prerequisite: ENGL E412 Beginning Fiction Writing Workshop or equivalent experience.
    Prerequisite or class level does not apply when course is offered during wintersession.
    Sophomore and above

  • LAS-E151

    ANALYSIS OF FILM NARRATIVE

    Credits: 3.00

    This course will provide an introduction to narrative theory as it relates to the visual and time arts in the production of both documentary and fiction films. We will consider various narrative genres as well as the range of film narrative forms from Classical Hollywood to Contemporary Independent to Avant-Garde. To fully understand the practical narrative possibilities of film's technology, we will spend some time in class analyzing and writing adaptations of literature (short stories, poems, performance monologues, novels) for film. Requirements include film screenings; reading from theoretical works, literature, and screenplays; and writing both analytical and practical exercises. There will be an additional screening time scheduled.
  • LAS-E402

    EKPHRASIS AND ITS REVERSE: WRITING FROM ART, ART FROM WRITING

    Credits: 3.00

    Here's Marcel Proust on his love of art: "Through art alone are we able to emerge from ourselves, to know what another person sees of a universe which is not the same as our own." Instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists. I want to do something similar in this course: to encourage students to see visual art in terms of writing and writing in terms of visual art, and thus to inspire them in their own studio practice and writing. Students will write creative texts related to their artistic interests or the work of the artists who inspire them and will create art in response to literary texts. We will read various writers (Rilke, Proust, WH Auden, Frank O'Hara - many others) who have been influenced by visual artists, and vice-versa. We will explore questions of narrative, framing, place, autobiography, appropriation, metaphor and symbol, truth and realism, irony, and so on. How can a poem or piece of fiction 'tell the story' of a sculpture or painting? How can a painting 'translate' a passage from Proust, a short story by Kafka or a poem by Elizabeth Bishop? How can it fail, and how are these failures interesting? What is lost in translation between art and literature, and what does this say about the singularity of each medium? Our overarching aim will be to inspire students through a series of juxtapositions (looking at the similarities between negative space in painting and 'silences' in literature, for example), and to encourage them to engage with and find inspiration in ideas and methods from fields beyond their major.
  • LAS-E269

    EXTREME FICTION

    Credits: 3.00

    Most mainstream fiction is realist in form and narrative in style. These stories generally have a beginning, middle and end, and adhere to a formula that includes rising action, climax, and denouement. The fictions we will examine in this course, however, may have few or none of those qualities: they may be nonrealist, nonnarrative, postmodern, or fall somewhere between and among these categories, but they provide a counterpoint and challenge to preconceived notions of what a story ought to look like, how it should unfold, and even what relationship the readers should have to the text. We will begin the course with some more traditional stories and then move directly into examining alternative fictions. The readings will likely be selected from texts written by the following authors: Donald Barthelme, Kathy Acker, Italo Calvino, Ishmael Reed, Pamela Zoline, Angela Carter, Ursula LeGuin, Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen Dixon, Michael Wilkerson, Karen Brennan, and others. In addition to the readings, students will be required to give a presentation (with at least one other member of the class), write several responses, and take a final exam.
  • LAEL-WL17

    FILM INVESTIGATIONS

    Credits: 3.00

    We explore both narrative and nonfiction films and videotapes. We write essays to establish critical standards. We produce personal film essays by raiding the family album of photos and movies. The course thus aims to combine the humanist perspective with a recognition of actual production. We draw our films from many sources. We draw our readings from a wide range of film journals and establish a shelf of reserve reading material in our library. These sources are incorporated into our discussions and reports. The course requires a class presentation about a film shown and a visual project in film or slides.
  • LAS-C344

    FRAMING HAITI: HISTORY, CULTURE, POLITICS, & LITERATURE

    Credits: 3.00

    This course aims to present students with an opportunity to delve into substantive multidisciplinary resources that expose, analyze, and deconstruct the forces that have shaped and continue to shape Haiti. Following sufficient exploration, students will engage in discussions and other activities to develop their ideas about various issues relating to Haiti- its past, its present condition, and its future. In broadest terms, the objective will be to introduce students to the varied nature of the Haitian society and its fluid and dynamic culture, and then attempt to make historical and socio-anthropological sense of the country in relation to the region as a whole (particularly to the United States and Dominican Republic). Throughout the course we will discuss the dynamics of power in the realm of governance, with particular emphasis placed on the notion of struggle for sovereignty and the culture of resistance (through the arts) that forms the fundamental character of the national culture. A particular focus on issues of race, power, inequality, subjugation, imperialism/neo-imperialism and resistance will be discussed. Music, film and literature will be integral to the course.
  • LAS-E520

    FREAKS, QUEENS, MINSTRELS, AND SPECTACLES OF THE HUMAN BODY

    Credits: 3.00

    In this course, we will be looking at various displays of the human body, focusing on four main arenas: the freak show, the minstrel show, the drag show, and the human zoo. We will focus extensively on the 19th and early 20th centuries, the heyday of human exhibitions, and move forward to current modes of display, which both contest and refigure earlier spectacles. Texts will include theoretical readings, films, novels, audio recordings, handbills, stereocard slides, postcards and advertisements. Students will be writing frequent response essays, and will produce a presentation--both written and oral-- on one particular aspect/enactment of corporeal display. There will also be a final project which will involve students constructing their own displays.
  • LAS-E272

    ITALY AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY IMAGINATION

    Credits: 3.00

    This course centers on three interrelated American fiction writers--- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, and Edith Wharton---who imaginatively use settings in Italy to develop complex characters and plots. Reading Hawthorne's The Marble Faun, Henry James' Daisy Miller, The Portrait of a Lady and/or The Wings of the Dove, and Edith Wharton's short stories such as The Eyes and Roman Fever, we will explore the rich aesthetic and psychological components of fiction dealing with Americans encountering Italian culture. Since the visual arts---painting, sculpture, and architecture-play a significant role in each of the texts we read, they will be a part of our focus. Students will keep journals, write three analytical papers, and take a final exam. Students may choose to construct a final project (including a strong written dimension) that will substitute for the final exam.
  • LAEL-LE33

    PALEOGRAPHY: WESTERN HANDWRITTEN LETTERFORMS

    Credits: 3.00

    This Liberal Arts Elective is a hands-on investigation of the development of Latin handwritten letters from about 200 BCE to about 1500 CE, analyzing scripts and script families from Roman cursive and monumental letters to the Renaissance letters that were the basis of most modern fonts. The emphasis of the course is on dynamic analysis of letters as written rather than static forms, though we will also explore the implications of the Platonic and later organic/evolutionary models that are the traditional means for understanding the history of letterforms. Students will master a basic Italic hand; study and write versions of a dozen or more historical scripts originally executed with styli, brushes, and reed, quill, and metal pens; make pens from river reeds and other materials (and write with them); and investigate the properties of papyrus, wood, vellum, and paper as writing surfaces. The class will visit at least one museum, spend extensive time outside of class practicing letters, and write two papers involving the historical contexts, paleographic characteristics, and calligraphic/graphic procedures for particular handwritten manuscripts. Although all the scripts studied were originally written right-handed, left-handed students have excelled in the course.
  • LAS-E379

    QUEER FILM ASIAN AMERICAN AND AFRICAN AMERICAN QUEER FILM

    Credits: 3.00

    Since the early Hollywood years, films have played a major role in the way American mainstream culture inscribes Queerness: the many and diverse queer communities, identities, and experiences. This course begins with an examination of earlier representations of Queerness in Hollywood films, tracing Queer cinematic images throughout the early 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. We will screen Queer films such as Nazimova's Salome (1922) and The Killing of Sister George (1968) to analyze their representations of queer identiy and examine what they signify to us today. Our examination of queer film will address the following questions: What is gay or lesbian film? What is a queer film? What are the ways in which the discourses of race, gender, and sexuality are interrelated and deployed? The latter half of the course also will examine selected films and documentaries from the new emerging Queer Cinema and a selection of film shorts that are currently running in queer film festivals.
  • LAS-E220

    SHORT FICTIONS OF RACE AND EMPIRE

    Credits: 3.00

    Anti-racists, dark comics, revolutionary anarchists, queer dystopians, and communitarian futurists have long sought aesthetic means to resist the common-sense understandings of racial identity and imperial politics. In this course, we will read short works about race and empire: works whose brevity is what enables them to tell of life lived otherwise. We will read American science-fiction and self-writing, as well as other genres, in media that range from novellas and graphic novels to short films, stories, and poetry. Representative authors include Herman Melville, Ursula K. Le Guin, Sun Ra, Coco Fusco, and Teresa Hak Kyung Cha.
  • LAS-C502

    TASTE MATTERS: CLASS, "CULTURE", & POLITICS OF THE AESTHETIC IN 19TH AND 20TH CENTURY U.S. LITERATURE

    Credits: 3.00

    Our tastes--culinary, sartorial, literary, aesthetic-are never simply personal or obviously natural; they are inextricably intertwined with larger political questions about class, gender, sexuality, race, and nation. This course will pay attention to what is at stake in the claims to "good taste," particularly to how assertions of superior taste are linked to notions of social and moral superiority. We will explore the complex relationship between taste and consumption; democracy and distinction; economic and cultural capital. We will be reading a mix of classic U.S. literary, theoretical, and historical texts, as well as seeing some films and considering other visual materials and cultural artifacts. Although we will concentrate on literary case studies, our goal is to think about the course concepts in relation to the arts and our own lives. Also offered as HPSS-C502. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  • LAEL-LE50

    THEATER PRODUCTION WORKSHOP

    Credits: 3.00

    Professional actor/director Fred Sullivan (Trinity Repertory Company resident artist and RISD Acting Workshop instructor) will guide a company of student actors, designers, stage managers, and construction crew through a workshop process of producing a live play for the stage, culminating in a weekend of public performances of the production. Students in this course will be asked to: audition for, rehearse and perform assigned speaking and/or non-speaking roles; express preferences for leading and/or assisting in design areas (sets, costume, sound, lighting, etc.); accept assigned duties on design, construction and stage management crews; commit to a flexible rehearsal/construction schedule outside of class meetings; and pursue a guided study of the dramaturgical and production elements of the play or plays being produced. Under consideration for this Wintersession production is a selection of short plays by modern masters/"geniuses" such as Tennessee Williams, Samuel Beckett, Thornton Wilder, David Mamet, etc. The structure of the selected play will be analyzed for its themes and historic context as well. The play will furthermore be examined for its unique performance techniques and production requirements. Sign up, put on some comfortable clothes and come to the first class ready to play.
    Rehearsals are scheduled throughout Wintersession as needed.
Spring Semester 2014
  • LAS-E421

    ADVANCED POETRY WORKSHOP

    Credits: 3.00

    The Advanced Poetry Workshop is most suitable for students who have completed an introductory creative writing workshop and who wish to further develop projects initiated, sustain a relationship with poetry, and participate in contemporary poetry culture as writer/performer/publisher/editor/collaborator in addition to, or aligned with, studio practice. The workshop builds on experience in previous creative writing workshops in poetry or other writing genres, focusing on the development of a group of poems for performance and/or publication through workshop critique and individual and collaborative practice.
    Sophomore and above
  • LAS-E288

    AFRICAN AMERICAN DRAMA

    Credits: 3.00

    The course will focus entirely on African American theater. We will be concerned with the politics of representation and location, paying close attention to the relationship between the historical moment and the dramatic and performance texts. The meaning of the dramatic texts studied will be linked to their significance and potential social effects. Written largely during periods of turbulent social change, the texts chosen provide an opportunity to reflect on the transformative power of theater. Beginning with a broad overview of the issues and performance traditions impacting African American drama, we will proceed to the major highlights in the evolution of the latter. Notions of race, gender, class, and how these impact the retrieval of black people as speaking subjects will also be examined.
  • LAS-E311

    AFTER BABEL: LITERATURE IN THE TIME OF GLOBALIZATION

    Credits: 3.00

    The course examines the ways in which literature responds to the utopian dreams and dystopian nightmares engendered in the current moment of globalization. Are we still living in the ruins of Babel -- defined by conflict, fragmentation, and mutual incomprehension?or is this a time of harmony and translucent immediacy when neither linguistic nor cultural translation is necessary? What happens to notions of language and humanity as literature and life both become disposable; as origins become untraceable; and as forms of violence -- whether terrorist, revolutionary, or poetic -- are seen to infect the everyday? Readings include late-20th century and contemporary novels and poetry from post-totalitarian Chile, post-unification Europe, de-secularizing Turkey, post-colonial South Asia and Nigeria, post-socialist Poland, and post-revolutionary Algeria (Roberto Bolaño, Juan Goytisolo, Orhan Pamuk, Amitav Ghosh, Chris Abani, Michal Witkowski, Assia Djebar). These texts will be supplemented by films and theoretical essays.
  • LAS-E759

    ART AND FREEDOM

    Credits: 3.00

    "Freedom" and "artistic freedom" are concepts that have become increasingly clichéd. Headlines and slogans advertise freedom that might be achieved through war, granted us by technology, or secured by the market, while artistic freedom is touted as the ultimate expression of personal vision, individuality, and originality. Yet artistic freedom also has a largely hidden history connected to the imagination and to alternative notions of humanness defined through such notions as community, shared feeling, or social justice. Through comparative study and workshop-based studio practice, this course focuses on contemporary uses of artistic freedom within the political, institutional, and ideological context of the present. Students will tackle two projects: a reflective study of freedom in their own work that will culminate in a manifesto (which can take many forms); and a collective art project integrated into social and political space and in coordination with other entities from the greater Providence community or other forums. Underneath this course, we ask: What, if anything, limits the freedom of expression today? What are the sources of censorship in the present? What formal strategies are available for confronting the limits imposed by the state or the market? Can art still be dangerous? And what, finally, are the implications of turning toward greater freedom in your own art practice?
    Also offered as IDISC-1579. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  • LAS-E326

    BIRDS IN BOOKS

    Credits: 3.00

    We begin with a study of the bird painters, illustrators and photographers, most notably, of course, John James Audubon, and continue with the symbolic bird of poetry and literature, such as Green Mansions by W.H. Hudson--the bird as woman--and examine the bird as omen and warning--the ecological and environmental indicator of human fate. Our books include such recent essays and memoirs as Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals -- an indictment of the poultry industry and a plea for vegetarianism--and also the arguments both personal/subjective and yet also scientific for the intelligence of birds such as the bestseller books Alex: The Parrot that Owned Me and Wesley the Barn Owl, in which birds appear not so much as pets but rather as companion creatures who share our destiny and condition.

    Our course will include actual birdwatching during times of migration or nest-building, either locally within the borders of our campus world, or beyond its frontiers. Migration has always meant the crossing of national barriers, and therefore a promise of peace and order despite the turmoil under the skies. We read, we watch, and we design projects relevant to the various meanings of birds to be found in books.
  • LAS-C221

    BLAKE AND HOGARTH

    Credits: 3.00

    William Hogarth was a painter and engraver whose satirical serial works helped shape the English novel. William Blake illustrated the writings of others and published his own poems and satires in illuminated books uniting visual and verbal art. Students will read challenging poetry and critical literature, and must be prepared to do independently conceived research in art history, history, material culture, and/or literary criticism and to present the fruits of their investigations to the class.
    Also offered as HAVC C221. Register into the course for which credit is desired.
  • LAS-E212

    BRITISH LITERATURE II

    Credits: 3.00

    Beginning with Thomas Gray and ending with Joseph Conrad, we will read and discuss poems, novels, visual art, and essays that explore the idea of modernity, placing them in the context of literary, cultural, and social history. Short papers, a mid-term and a final will be required.
  • LAS-E241

    DIGITAL POETICS

    Credits: 3.00

    Yes, it's that time already. Literature has its digital (born) classics! This course begins with Michael Joyce's Afternoon: A Story, Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl; keys texts including Michael Joyce's Twelve Blue, Brian Kim Stefans'The Dreamlife of Letters, Talan Memmott's Lexia to Perplexia, John Cayley's translation, Janet Cardiff's Her Long Black Hair, Oni Buchanan's The Mandrake Vehicles; and the Web art of Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries. Most of this work is available free in the Electronic Literature Collection (2006, 2011) http://collection.eliterature.org. Kenneth Goldsmith's UbuWeb, the Electronic Poetry Center, and perhaps the CAVE at Brown University, offer further resources.
    The Web has reconfigured the landscape of reading, writing, research, editing, publication, and distribution. Text has jumped out of its skin and mated with everything, including the reader. Writers work with color, sound, images, graphics, animation, video, every day-whether they know how to or not. Online everyone writes in at least two languages. Roles, conventions, disciplines, economies, power dynamics are in flux. What does chronology mean at a time of paradigm shift? Why does the shiny digital seem more material than hairy print? Has the physiology of imagination changed? Are our brains outside our heads? Is hybridity mainstream? What is "electracy"? What are the Laws of Cool? Is experimentation the sine qua non of Digital Language Arts? Informed by the critique of N. Katherine Hayles, Villem Flusser, and Loss Pequeño Glazier, students will address these questions-and better ones-in creative and speculative works written and presented during the semester.
  • LAS-E501

    FROM LITERARY TO CULTURAL STUDIES

    Credits: 3.00

    Cultural studies has made its mark in the humanities as a structured discipline since the 1960s. It emerged from a dissatisfaction with traditional literary criticism and sought to widen the latter's focus on aesthetic masterpieces of "high" culture by incorporating "low," popular, and mass culture in an interdisciplinary analysis of "texts," their production, distribution and consumption. Varied "texts" from the world of art, film, TV, advertising, detective novels, music, folklore, etc., as well as everyday objects, discourses, and institutions have since been discussed in their social, historical, ideological and political contexts. This course will provide an introduction to the field and its concerns. It will also encourage students to practice some of its modes of analysis.
  • LAS-E312

    IRISH LITERATURE

    Credits: 3.00

    Ireland has a long history of literature, stretching from pre-Christian epics through monastic manuscripts right up to the thriving contemporary scene. While there are many important Irish writers before the beginning of the twentieth century, clearly the birth of the Abbey theatre and the poetry of W. B. Yeats and the prose of James Joyce created reverberations still felt in Ireland today. Using Joyce, Synge, and Yeats as a beginning point in this seminar we will look at a series of contemporary Irish writers whose work builds upon the foundation established in the early years of the twentieth century. One of the themes we will return to again and again in this course is the theme of loss - loss of language, loss of sovereignty, loss of loved ones. What does Stephen mean when he says, "History is a Nightmare from which I am trying to awake"? Why is Yeats' left in "the foul rag and bone shop of the heart"?
  • LAS-E430

    LIARY: PROSE STUDIO

    Credits: 3.00

    The word "liary" references the seven volumes of Anais Nin's diaries, which, upon their publication, were denounced by Nin's friends as utter fiction, as the "liary." This course will treat this insult as the basis for a literary genre: the fiction of life itself. We will focus on the production of liaries: fiction using real life - your own. But rather than thinking about lived experience as the raw material of fiction which finds expression through words, we will think about words themselves as the medium through which the fiction of life can be constructed. In this course, we will be fully invested in the materiality of words and the functionality of fiction. We will collide with words as if they were a particularly willful batch of clay, to find different ways in which fictionality is created when a word is imagined to give contour to the slippery moments of living.
  • LAS-E333

    LIT: THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT

    Credits: 3.00

    There is a long history of literature on the Indian subcontinent, and while Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka have different histories since partition, their literary history and continued development are intertwined. This course will look at the literature of the region, including works by writers in exile. Writers examined may include Anand, Desai, Hamid, Narayan, Nasrin, and Rushdie.
  • LAS-E101

    LITERATURE SEM: DESIGN IN WORDS

    Credits: 3.00

    An introduction to literary study that helps students develop the skills necessary for college-level reading, writing, research and critical thinking. Through exposure to a variety of literary forms and genres, historical periods and critical approaches, students are taught how to read closely, argue effectively and develop a strong writing voice. The course is reading and writing intensive and organized around weekly assignments.
    Required for graduation for all undergraduates, including transfers. There are no waivers for LAS-E101 except for transfer students who have taken an equivalent college course.
    For the Fall term, freshmen are pre-registered into this course. Upperclassmen may register for the Spring term by contacting the Liberal Arts Office.
  • LAS-E310

    NARRATIVES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

    Credits: 3.00

    We will study contemporary world narratives-fiction and film-which have been published or produced within the last ten to twenty years. In order to keep up with current work, the specific content of the course will change each year. We will study fiction and film in English and in translation (subtitled). In the past, the work of Salman Rushdie, Mario Vargas Llosa, Kamila Shamsie, Tash Aw, Shahrnush Parsipur, and Haruki Murakami has been included. In addition to the assigned reading, we will screen and discuss an international film each week. By the end of the semester, thematic and stylistic links as well as the uniqueness of certain work, like Kore-eda Hirokazu's After Life, Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing, or Roy Andersson's You, the Living, will become apparent. Short analytic/interpretive essays in response to the fiction and film and thoughtful class participation are required.
  • LAS-E254

    NATIVE AMERICAN LITERATURE

    Credits: 3.00

    This class explores both the conflicted subject position of American Indians in popular culture as well as the manner in which American Indians inscribe their own subjectivity in films and literature. America Indians have been portrayed in a variety of different and often contradictory ways in American popular culture: from primtive savages to symbols of intuitive wisdom, from tragic figures that embody the loss of a culture and land, to hardy survivors. American Indian writers and filmmakers address these images in their current works. This class will begin with a study of visual representations of Indians in paintings, photographs, popular cultural images, ethnographic films. We will then focus on the novels and films made by prominent American Indians. Our inquiry will address Indian subjectivity and the manner in which American Indian writers inscribe the postmodern condition How do the experiences of this varied group of authors and filmmakers - all of whom are mixed-blood and vary in the degree of familiarity with their native culture-- interrogate existing stereotypes and beliefs about native peoples? Further topics of discussion will include: the inclusion of trickster strategies and Indian humor;the relationship of narrative strategies to oral traditions; the different community experiences of American Indians; and the construction and deconstruction of the self in novels/films. Finally, we will also attempt to formulate our own definition of what encompasses American Indian literature as well as its placement within the American literary canon.
  • LAS-E387

    NEO-REALISM: THEORY PRACTICE AND A CULTURAL CONVERSATION

    Credits: 3.00

    This class brings together in a productive, practical conversation three lines of aesthetic interest: Italian Neo-realism, contemporary influence of Neo-realism, and emerging medium of cell phone cinema. At its center, the class consists of an intensive exploration of Italian Neo-realism through an analysis of their films, the often contentious, always expansive writings of those practitioners, and the writings of their acknowledged cultural compatriots. The workshop uses both cultural studies methodology to reveal the archeology of a social movement and its possible supports for present practice as well as traditional humanities analysis into the limits and depth of an aesthetic expression. Some of the Neo-realist issues considered will be: the relation between documentary and reality; the function of story in realism; the use of time that is, screen time or as Rossellini called it waiting, vs. plot; the cinema of encounter vs. the cinema of escape; the cinema of the ordinary vs. the cinema of spectacle; the ethic of curiosity vs. the ethic of astonishment; and National-Popular content and technology. One of the only facts of Neo-realism is that it was first a practice born of necessity moral, political, and technical and, it was second an aesthetic manifesto. In keeping with that history and Neo-realism's Gramscian ideal of a National-Popular art in terms of content and form, the final assessment will consist of neo-realist films produced by the students in the birth place of the movement using their mobile phones. This final experiment insists that students engage in Neo-realism as not only a fixed historical debate but also as a fluid on-going conversation. To this end, there will also be readings in contemporary expressions of Neo-realism and filmmaking aesthetics of cell phone cinema.
  • IDISC-1579

    OUT OF THE FRAME: ART AND FREEDOM

    Credits: 3.00

    "Freedom" and "artistic freedom" are concepts that have become increasingly cliched. Headlines and slogans advertise freedom that might be achieved through war, granted us by technology, or secured by the market, while artistic freedom is touted as the ultimate expression of personal vision, individuality, and originality. Yet artistic freedom also has a largely hidden history connected to the imagination and to alternative notions of humanness defined through such notions as community, shared feeling, or social justice. Through comparative study and workshop-based studio practice, this course focuses on contemporary uses of artistic freedom within the political, institutional, and ideological context of the present. Students will tackle two projects: a reflective study of freedom in their own work that will culminate in a manifesto (which can take many forms); and a collective art project integrated into social and political space and in coordination with other entities from the greater Providence community or other forums. Underneath this course, we ask: What, if anything, limits the freedom of expression today? What are the sources of censorship in the present? What formal strategies are available for confronting the limits imposed by the state or the market? Can art still be dangerous? And what, finally, are the implications of turning toward greater freedom in your own art practice?
    Also offered as LAS-E759. Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  • LAS-E302

    POSTCOLONIAL LITERATURES II: IRELAND, OCEANIA, AND THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT

    Credits: 3.00

    Postcolonial literature is the writing produced by people in or from regions that have escaped the yoke of colonialism. Of course, such a definition raises a number of questions, and during the semester we will grapple with the definition. Our readings will open with several theoretical discussions of postcoloniality, then we will continue with novels and poetry from Australia, India, Indonesia, Ireland, New Zealand, Samoa, and Sri Lanka. This history of trading empires and settler colonies will be a major focus in this course. Through individual projects and a final paper that works with at least one of the theoretical texts and a novel or book of poetry, students can begin to focus on the area in the field that specifically interests them. Writers may include Ciaran Carson, Lionel Fogarty, Keri Hulme, R.K. Narayan, Michael Ondaatje, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and Albert Wendt.
  • LAEL-LE12

    PUBLIC PRESENTATION

    Credits: 3.00

    This course, taught by a working professional actor/director with experience in stage, radio, tv and film, is centered on the belief that speaking skillfully in public is a way to self-discovery, self-improvement and self-confidence. It is also a tenet of this course that skillful public speaking is a fundamental element of a humane society. Students will deliver five major speeches, including self-written speeches of introduction, ceremonial speeches, informative speeches and persuasive speeches. The oral interpretation of literature will also be explored. Each class meeting will require every student's speaking participation in order to develop skills in the areas of voice, diction, managing speech anxiety, research and organization, use of microphones and video, and use of visual aids. The latter phase of this course will focus on concentration, credibility, and familiarity with argument, debate and parliamentary procedure. Attendance at each class is vital and mandatory; furthermore, students will be required to "dress up" for their presentations.
  • LAS-E701

    SEM: FAMILY NARRATIVES

    Credits: 3.00

    Tolstoy's famous opening sentence of Anna Karenina reminds us that families provide a lot of good material for fiction and film narratives. "All happy families resemble one another," he writes, "but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." This seminar will take a look at unhappy and happy families alike and will consider alternative or surrogate family structures and definitions of home. Contemporary writers like Jhumpa Lahiri, Michael Cunningham, Philip Roth, Chang-rae Lee, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Jeffrey Eugenides, just to name a few, take us inside homes where identities are formed and where they clash. We will also study family portraiture in film to extend our understanding of the subject's narrative possibilities. Students must be prepared to participate in class, must know how to read narratives closely, and must be able to write specific and detailed papers each week in response to assigned material. Research outside of the class material is expected.
    Sophomore and above
  • LAS-E715

    SEM: GREEN CULTURAL STUDIES FILM

    Credits: 3.00

    Broadly defined, a green cultural studies approach asks questions about how the more-than-human other is produced and represented in texts. Furthermore, a green cultural studies approach seeks to explore the stakes and consequences of these productions and representations. In this seminar we will concentrate on discerning and analyzing discourses of nature present in films produced in North America in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Possible topics for consideration include: nature documentaries and other representations of the animal, the aesthetics of landscape cinematography, the symbolic role(s) of wilderness, the presence and consequences of environmental rhetoric, gendered encounters with the natural world, narratives of environmental apocalypse and/or toxicity, environmental justice, and cyborgs and other modified or transgenic organisms. To contextualize our primary texts in the films we will read articles on ecocritical theory and methodology, on film theory and philosophy, and on relevant environmental issues. Throughout the semester each student will do independent research. This research, shared with the class on a regular basis, will serve as the foundation for a final essay of at least twenty-five pages. A screening time will be scheduled. Students who miss the screening are responsible for seeing the required film(s) before class discussion.

    Open to sophomore and above
  • LAS-E722

    SEM: ILLUSTRATING DANTE'S COMEDY

    Credits: 3.00

    The verb to illustrate means at its root to shed light upon something, and has a definition that encompasses both the practices of pictorial representation and the intellectual exercise required to understand a long, philosophical poem. (Indeed, the OED notes an old but perhaps equally relevant use of the term to mean the clearing of the head!) All things considered, "The Comedy of Dante Alighieri", "Florentine by Birth but Not in Character" (b.1265, d. 1321) can be understood as an exercise in illustration as it imagines the full spectrum of human experience, scored between the "blind prison" of "Inferno" and the "eternal light" of "Paradiso". This course brings together intensive study of Dante's "Comedy" and the practice of series-book illustration so that students might gain a greater understanding of what it means to be truly invested in both the study of literature and the creation of sequential, pictorial narrative.
    Please note that this three-credit offering may only be taken simultaneously with the Illustration Department course bearing the same title,ILLUS-5722 also worth three credits.
    Students will receive 3 Illustration studio credits and 3 English credits upon completion of these co-requisites.
    Open to Illustration Juniors and Seniors; instructor permission required for non-major students.
  • LAS-E799

    SEM: LAS OPEN SEMINAR

    Credits: 3.00

    The Open Seminar in Literary Arts and Studies is for students who wish to rigorously explore the relationship between their studio practice and textuality (literature, language, words). The shape of the course will be organically formed in large part by the degree projects of the members of the course. We will work through theories that interface textuality with visual, digital, tactile and performance art while working to hone the development of individual projects. The majority of course work will be specifically designed for each course member. Registration is by instructor permission only. Please email to the instructor a description of your degree project, and why it would benefit from an intensified study in textuality. Include your name, major, and rank. (Note that the course is only open to Juniors, Seniors, 5th Years and Graduate Students.)
  • LAS-E206

    THE ARTHURIAN THING

    Credits: 3.00

    Romance narratives constitute a literary milieu that has been, throughout its history, both genuinely popular and highly sophisticated. Romances have exerted a formative influence on gender relations--lending their very name to what the West has come to think of as "love." They have also given us, in effect, the name of the novel. The Arthurian strain of romances-which is perhaps the mainline of the genre-braids in among tails of love and knightly adventure the larger political ambitions that produced a charter myth of British messianic nationalism in which Arthur is imagined as "the once and future king." They are, to put it mildly, stories that do a lot of work while being immensely entertaining. We will read major examples of Arthurian romance by British and Continental authors from the Middle Ages to the modern period, including Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and works by Chrétien de Troyes, Thomas Malory, Edmund Spenser and Alfred Tennyson. Some filmic renderings of Arthurian legend will be considered as well. The course will require regular short writing assignments, a longer researched essay, and a final examination.
  • LAS-E375

    THE BODY SHOP

    Credits: 3.00

    Why is it that the elaborate and expensive videography of Matthew Barney is named "art" while the equally expensive and elaborate videography of Mariah Carey is only "performance?" How much of such categorization is about a pure assessment of the artistic end product, and how much more is about the social-cultural baggage (gender, race, socio-economic class) that underwrites the process of performance-making? This course will probe the dys/functional marriage between "performance" and "art" through the conceptual tool of "craft." While we will of course consider the history of performance art, this is not a survey course. Rather, using speech-act theory of performativity as groundwork, we will theorize and finesse the creative process by which the human body becomes a compelling medium of object-making.
  • LAS-E255

    THE JEWISH NARRATIVE

    Credits: 3.00

    Modern Jewish literary form and content developed from the 19th-century emancipation with its socialist, Zionist, and romantic options. We move from these roots to the satiric and elegiac voice of contemporary America. Authors studied will include Sholom Aleichem, Isaac Singer, Elie Wiesel, Bernard Malamud.
  • LAS-E267

    TRAVEL WRITING: THE AMERICAN ROAD TRIP

    Credits: 3.00

    The open road is often conceived in American literature as a mainstay of democracy; freedom to travel is integral to the American dream. The courage to travel, to explore, is a true marker of that most lauded national ideal: self-reliance. Americans frequently take to the roads to find themselves, but how does the journey help shape our identities?
    This course will examine a variety of twentieth century road trip narratives (books and films) to understand how the road teaches us what it means to be American. We will give particular consideration to how gender, age, class, race, and ethnic identity might influence one's experience of the road, and, conversely, we will look at how the mythology of the road has affected our collective understanding of those categories. Other topics to be addressed include, American regionalism, the "outsider's" view of America and, of course, America's love for the automobile. Our travel guides: Walt Whitman, Jack Kerouac, Eddy Harris, Henry Miller, John Steinbeck, William Least Heat-Moon, Diana Hume, and John Krakauer.
    Open to sophomores and above.
English Foreground Image 4
The Fleet Library at RISD offers a comfortable spot to stop and read any of the more than 400 art
and design magazines regularly available.