Fall 2017

  1. Acting Workshop

    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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  2. Beginning Fiction Writing Workshop

    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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  3. Beginning Poetry Writing Workshop

    In this elective course, students from many majors and levels, sophomore to senior, come together because they write, or want to write, poetry. Here you'll find peers, creative and critical exchange, an invested audience, the excitement of discovering a diverse range of authors and works key to your practice, opportunities for collaborative events, and most of all a systematic framework for the writing of poems. The course addresses major commitments of poetry including sound, line, voice, image, form/content, language(s), tradition/convention, audience, performance, revision, collection, and publication. Working across languages and with translation will be encouraged. You will leave this class with a book of workshopped and revised poems, which you will distribute in a self-published and designed small edition. You will also leave with a keener sense of the power and weight of language, even in small units. And you will learn the workshop method, which you can apply usefully in your own communities. We will attend public readings, curate/participate in community readings and have poets visit our class, if possible. A class blog will function as a magazine for creative and critical writing. The Beginning Poetry Workshop is a prerequisite for the Advanced Poetry Workshop in the Spring.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  4. Blood, Sweat, And Tears: Gender And Medicine In Victorian Literature

    This course focuses upon two interconnected threads in the literature of nineteenth-century Britain-issues of gender and the development of the medical profession. During the Victorian age, the medical field sought to establish itself as a respectable and organized profession, and this effort led to widespread discussions and developments amongst practitioners who attempted to discover the causes and cures of various ailments and perfect their understanding of the human body. As male doctors attempted to establish their position as the sole authority on the human body, women's bodies became a primary focus in medical circles. Victorian medicine portrayed women's bodies as potentially dangerous; they could infect others through disease, go mad, make themselves ill through overwork, die as a result of menstruation, pregnancy, or childbirth, pass on problematic traits to their children, and even become murderous as a result of biological drives. Interestingly, the medical profession also offered an idealized portrait of female health, sometimes believing women to be "born good," describing ill women as beautiful or saintly, and championing the idea that women made the best caregivers for other sick people. In this class, we will read a variety of literature which focuses upon gender and medicine in the Victorian age, drawing upon actual medical articles, newspaper stories, fiction, poetry, memoirs, and even examining pieces of art. We will discuss topics which include (but are not limited to) revivification, invalidism, mesmerism, feminism, the doctor-patient relationship, nursing, reproduction and childbirth, insanity, disability, pseudo-science, masculinity, sexually transmitted diseases, contagion, and psychiatry.

    Open to sophomore and above

  5. Brown University Course

  6. Collaborative Study

    A Collaborative Study Project (CSP) allows two students to work collaboratively to complete a faculty supervised project of independent study.

    Usually, a CSP is supervised by two faculty members, but with approval it may be supervised by one faculty member. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses, though it is not a substitute for a course if that course is regularly offered.

  7. Contemporary Critical Theory

    This course will introduce students to the vast, variegated field of critical theory. We will study the concepts, questions, and debates that have been central to understandings of modern culture. In order to do so, we will explore key contributions in psychoanalysis, semiotics, structuralism and post-structuralism, Marxism and ideology critique, feminist and queer theory, critical race theory and postcolonial studies. As we explore this wide range of approaches, we will interrogate how thinkers have imagined and reimagined terms like "art," "reading," "subjectivity," "modern," "discipline," "culture," "power," "technology," "sovereignty" and "nature," among others. And as we build this critical lexicon, we will examine the social institutions and intellectual formations that shape each debate. What kinds of knowledge does critical theory produce, and what are their blindspots? What forms of personhood and community do these theories outline, and in whose interests? What kinds of insights become visible when we examine conflicting theories together? Thinkers include Adorno, Agamben, Althusser, Barthes, Benjamin, Benveniste, Bhabha, Butler, Chow, Derrida, Fanon, Foucault, Freud, Gramsci, Hall, Haraway, Irigaray, Jameson, Lacan, Latour, Levi-Strauss, Lukacs, Marx, Ranciere, Said, Saussure, Spivak, Terranova, Willliams, and others.

  8. Contemporary Poetry

    This lecture/discussion course considers poetry from a range of contemporary traditions, including but not limited to Digital Language Arts, Poetry in Translation, Spoken Word, and material / visual / performative / conceptual poetries. We will also consider current questions related to the economy and political economy of contemporary poetry, including institutionalization, politicization, hybridity, small press publishing, digital economies, the lyric today, "I" vs "we" in poetry. Texts may include Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric, Poetry Magazine, selections from The Electronic Literature Collection Volume 3, 2016 (available free at eliterature.org), your choice of translated work from Action Books, and more. Assignments will include a 5-7 page research paper, a book review, a set of translations, and one creative work, all of which will be published on the course blog or in print, and/or performed. Note: Although both reading and writing will be paramount in this class, and we will have one creative writing module, it is vital to understand that this is not a workshop.

    Open to sophomore and above

  9. First-year Literature Seminar

    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.

    Please contact the department concerning any registration questions.

  10. Introduction To African American Literature

    An introduction to the range and diversity of African American literature, from the 19th-century slave narrative to contemporary magical realism and science fiction. We will focus on the development of particular literary movements (a women's sentimental tradition, the Harlem Renaissance, African American modernism) and their relation to the American canon. Authors may include Douglass, Jacobs, Hurston, Wright, Baldwin, Morrison.

  11. Introduction To Literature Of The Middle East And North Africa

    In this course, we will explore several of the rich literary traditions of the Middle East and North Africa in their artistic, political, and historical contexts. Many of the traditions we will study take place under forced contact with European cultural and political institutions from the 19th century to the present. For this reason, our inquiry will pay particular attention to topics such as tradition, colonialism, and gender politics in Algeria, Egypt, Palestine, and Lebanon. Readings will include works by Assia Djebar, Mahmoud Darwish, Amin Maalouf, Naguib Mahfouz, and Ghassan Kanafani.

  12. Journalism Workshop

    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

  13. LAEL Independent Study

    The Independent Study Project (ISP) allows students to supplement the established curriculum by completing a faculty supervised project for credit in a specific area of interest. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses.

    Permission of instructor and GPA of 3.0 or higher is required.

    Register by completing the Independent Study Application available on the Registrar's website; the course is not available via web registration.

  14. LAS Independent Study

    The Independent Study Project (ISP) allows students to supplement the established curriculum by completing a faculty supervised project for credit in a specific area of interest. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses.

    Permission of instructor and GPA of 3.0 or higher is required.

    Register by completing the Independent Study Application available on the Registrar's website; the course is not available via web registration.

  15. Medieval To Eighteenth-century British Literature

    This discussion-based course surveys major and minor works of British literature, mostly poetry, from the late Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century, with emphasis on the way these works relate to broad cultural phenomena in other areas, including philosophy, theology, and visual arts. Regular homework emphasizes independent critical and investigative reading of complex texts and images; formal writing assignments develop your ability to combine your own insights with those gained from casual and scholarly research, open-book midterm and final exams allow you to demonstrate your ability to analyze unfamiliar works and place them in context with those we have studied. Readings include (mostly short) works by Chaucer (3 Canterbury Tales), Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare (Sonnets andThe Tempest ), Donne, Marvell, Herbert, Herrick, Milton, Bunyan, Butler, Behn, Rochester, Locke, Dryden, Pope, Hogarth, Gray, Boswell and Johnson.

  16. Native American Literature

    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.

  17. Picture And Word

    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 must plan and register for both ILLUS-3612 and LAS-E416 and will receive 3 studio credits and 3 liberal arts credits.

  18. Postcolonial Literature I: Africa, The Caribbean And Latin America

    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 reading will open with several theoretical discussions of postcoloniality, then we will continue with novels and poetry from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. The spectre of slavery and its repercussions will reverberate in many of the readings. Through individual projects and a final paper that works with at least one of the theoretical texts and a novel or a book of poetry, students can begin to focus on the area in the field that specifically interests them. Writers may include Chinua Achebe, Isabel Allende, Michelle Cliff, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, George Lamming, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Derek Walcott.

  19. Professional Internship

    The professional Internship provides valuable exposure to a professional setting, enabling students to better establish a career path and define practical aspirations. Internship proposals are carefully vetted to determine legitimacy and must meet the contact hour requirements listed in the RISD Course Announcement.

  20. Remaking The World: Anglo-american Modernisms

    This course examines the way in which dominant movements within Anglo-American modernist literature between 1890 and 1960 reflect artists' attempts to reimagine the world around them and humanity's place within it, including such stylistic developments as imagism, cubism, naturalism, and surrealism. The transformation of traditional genres and styles which characterizes the period is famously encapsulated by poet Ezra Pound's declaration that artists of all kinds must "Make It New." Students can expect to read the poetry, stories, and novels of such authors as Joseph Conrad, Henry James, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, David Jones, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Samuel Beckett --authors whose writings exemplify some of the most radical experimentations of the modernist period.

  21. Rhetorics Of New Media

    Digital technologies have not only shaped contemporary culture; they have also shaped how we talk about culture, as well as how we talk about bodies and communities. Is there progressive potential in the trend toward computerization? Or contrarily, in what ways might technophilia and technocracy obstruct collective betterment? We'll take up these and related questions, and study the rhetorics of legitimation that secure diverse ways of thinking about the increasingly digital present. We will read electronic literature, print sci-fi, film, games, and art, along with cultural and political theory spanning the past half century. Taking a long historical view, we'll address topics ranging from globalization to the aesthetics of code, the newness of new media, technics-out-of-control, gamification of war, technologies of race and gender, digital narratology, and the ideology of computationalism.

  22. Sem: 'From Macondo To Mcondo": The Boom And Bust Of The Latin American Novel

    Associated for many years with the exoticism of magical realism (el boom), the Latin American novel has turned to the gritty realism of urban settings shaped by mass media and global corporate capitalism (McOndo). In this course we will examine the political and cultural meaning of this shift in literary styles and focus. The course begins with a short overview of magical realism to set the stage for our subsequent discussions. The majority of the class, however, is dedicated to an examination of the contemporary writers and sub-genres that constitute the McOndo movement, including the noir crime novel, the crack generation, and the postmodern novel of biculturalism. Authors may include: Alberto Fuguet, Giannina Braschi, Ignacio Padilla, and Paco Ignacio Taibo.

  23. Sem:three African Writers

    This course takes a close look at the work of three writers from the African continent. What narrative techniques does each writer employ? How does history inform each writer's work? What is each writer's relationship to her country and to the continent as a whole? What is the trajectory of each writer's work, and how do the styles employed alter over time? The writers examined will change regularly. Some writers who might be considered are Chinua Achebe, Ama Ata Aidoo, Ayi Kwei Armah, J.M. Coetzee, Nuruddin Farah, Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Christopher Okigbo, Sembene Ousmane, Tayeb Salih, Wole Soyinka and M.G. Vassanji.

  24. Shakespeare

    The name Shakespeare conveys a set of assumptions about style and eloquence in the English language, the course of European history, the power of dramatic literature, the protocols of theatrical performance and of Renaissance/Early Modern Culture in general--not to mention incontrovertible truths about "the human condition." In this course, we will undertake a creatively critical examination of several plays in the context of 16th- and 17th-century political struggles, major ideological shifts, colonial expansion, literary movements, and the cultural place of the commercial theatre as a new and controversial space of representation that vigorously appropriated traditional narratives. Requirements for the course include regular short writing assignments, a modest research paper, a final examination, and attendance at a local theatrical production.

  25. The Bible As Narrative Art

    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.

  26. The Nation & Its Discontents

    This course explores the relationship between narrative and national constructions in the literature and film produced by a variety of American authors during the 20th and 21st centuries. We will analyze texts from various authors in light of shifting paradigms in American thought, politics, and expressive culture. Our primary investigation is twofold: (1) to understand pervasive themes in U.S. literature, including the in/commensurability of American democracy and its continued exclusionism, (2) to become conversant with theories of nationalism, sexuality, gender, race and class. As we pursue our inquiry, we will examine the historical, political, economic, and ideological factors that have created and shaped the narratives of Americans of different "backgrounds."

  27. Transracial Bodies, Transracial Selves

    Thanks to the work and lives of transgender people, we now have room to understand our bodies in radically unbounded ways. Technological advances in surgery, hormonal therapy, psychiatry, cultural warfare, are catching up to the transgender presence: the gendered body is not necessarily that with which we were born, but one that can be crafted to match the real body of our psyche, our dreams. However, one's racial self remains tethered to biology. Blackness, Whiteness, Asianness, Latinness, the whole rainbow of racial identification, is still construed as biologically inescapable and inevitable. To speak of "transracialism" is to evoke self-delusion and community betrayal. But this cultural reaction is contrary to the everyday experience that actually finds racial identification as a process that is always transracial: declaring ourselves racially, we all cross restricted zones in becoming ourselves. In this course, we will use the discourse of transgenderism to build an alternate vocabulary of race.

  28. Visualizing The Environment Through Comics And Graphic Literature

    In this course, we will discuss how comics and other forms of literary-visual art illuminate various environmental concepts. Environmental problems result not merely from political negligence or technological expansion. They also result from, and persist as, problems of representation. Beginning from this position, we will consider comics art as a unique medium for telling stories about how humans and other animals relate to their environments, focusing especially on the form's capacity for representing time, space, word, and image in sequence. To further enrich our understanding of the cultural values and concepts that undergird the environmental decisions individuals, communities, and institutions make every day, we will examine how environmental problems intersect with issues of race, class, disability, gender, and sexuality. As astute environmental critics, we will dismantle the experience of reading comics, and the craft of making them, through a series of short essays and by making our own comics. In other words, we will come to understand comics art as a medium for both creative and critical invention. Though most of our course readings will be comics produced in the last 30 years, we will also look at comic strips, zines, art books, illuminated manuscripts, broadside ballads, and natural histories that cover a longer time span, dating back to the Middle Ages.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  29. With A Pen Of Light

    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 2018

  1. #Oscarssowhite: Intersectional Film And Overlooked Directors

    When the nominations for the 2016 Oscars were released the public quickly noticed a problem: No Black Americans had been nominated in any major category. This quickly sparked an outraged social media campaign with minorities of many races, ethnicities, and genders denouncing the historicbias of the Oscars towards anyone who is not a white cis straight male. Users of Twitter and other social media platforms pointed out all the talented performers and directors ignored over the decades by with the hashtag "oscarssowhite." In this course we will study American films from different genres all directed or produced by minority filmmakers. Furthermore we will ask how minority identities are intersectional by questioning the overlapping markers of race, religion, gender, and sexuality within the films. And, of course, we will ask whether a film need to be about identity politics at all simply because it is made by a minority or whether identity politics is always already part of any media production, no matter its creator. Through our discussions we will not only study and broaden the base of great American films, but also contribute to diversifying the production and distribution of minority media.

  2. Colorizing Film: The History Of Black Film In The Usa

    This course will be an intense and focused examination of Black filmmaking in the USA. The critical journey will start with early 20th-century films, including those of Oscar Micheaux. We will then continue on to so-called Race films, marching through the L.A. Rebellion/Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers and Blaxploitation films. We will end with current independents, exclusive of Spike Lee and Lee Daniels. We will analyze form, content and theoretical interventions in order to sketch, if not fill in, an artistic, cultural, and political practice that remains in the literal shadows of Hollywood and White film hegemony. You MUST be prepared to screen many films, read critical and theoretical essays, and write thoughtful, cogent papers that will help us center filmmaking practices that are too often decentered.

  3. Film Investigations

    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.

  4. Magical Realism Writing Workshop

    Magical realism brings together the real and the fantastical. When the bizarre and impossible intrudes on our ordinary world, the result can be shocking, moving, funny, powerful. This course will focus on writing magical realist stories. We will read and discuss stories by established writers as well as work by members of the class. Students will write three stories and submit one to a literary journal to be considered for publication.

  5. Paleography: Western Handwritten Letterforms

    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.

  6. Phototextuality: Literatures Of The Embedded Image

    Photography and Literature are often seen as separate, yet kindred, disciplines, each working to depict, contest, alter, and reframe that which we think of as reality. This course will explore various ideas about the melding of photography and literature by looking at texts that work to create dialogue between the two mediums, as well as theoretical writings that offer ways of contemplating such fusions. We will study texts by writers/photographers such as: Walker Evans, James Agee, W.G. Sebald, Sigmund Freud, Roland Barthes, Teju Cole, John Berger, Sophie Calle, Paul Auster, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and Lance Olsen. Students will write several short essays about the readings, as well as a longer project, which will combine photography and writing.

  7. Queer Film Asian American And African American Queer Film

    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 identity 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.

  8. The Fiction Of Colson Whitehead

    In 2016, Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad won the National Book Award and was selected for Oprah's Book Club-a pair of honors that bespeaks the critical recognition and popular appeal of his work. Since his debut novel, The Intuitionist (1999), the hallmark of Whitehead's fiction has been the way in which it bridges between "highbrow" and popular culture, from noir to advertising to zombies. In this course we will consider these collisions of literary form and generic fiction, and specifically how Whitehead uses them to confront deep-rooted narratives of progress, race, and enterprise in America. Readings will include several of Whitehead's novels - The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, Zone One, and The Underground Railroad - and a sampling of his essays, articles, and tweets. Students will produce several short written exercises and one final mixed-media or multi-media project that they develop over the duration of the course.

  9. Theater Production Workshop

    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 2018

  1. *Ghana: Dialogue Across Diaspora

    This course centers around the idea of dialogue between Barbados and Ghana, with Rhode Island serving as a hinge. Over the course of the semester, students will be looking at narratives and art emerging from Barbados and Ghana, enacting a dialogue between the two countries. What insights can be gained into the histories of the two cultures by looking at them side by side? How do their divergent colonial histories speak to each other? Informing the course will be the reading of poetry, historical narratives, and narrative fiction, as well as an exploration of the visual art created in response to the history of oppression and the celebration of freedom. The tumultuous history of the two countries and the challenges of racial injustice and poverty will be explored in works by Ama Ata Aidoo, Dorthea Smartt, Kamau Brathwaite, Kojo Laing, George Lamming, Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang, and Karen Lord. 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 Barbadian and Ghanaian artists speak to each other through their works? What potentials are there for greater dialogue?

    **This course involves collaboration with students in the Department of Theatre at the University of Cape Coast, and an optional trip over spring break to Ghana to collaborate with those students on a project in a slave castle.**

    Permission of Instructor required.

    2018SP Estimated Travel Cost: TBD

    Also offered as HPSS-C792 and LAS-C792; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  2. Advanced Fiction Writing Wkshp

    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: LAS-E412 Beginning Fiction Writing Workshop or equivalent experience.

    Open to sophomore and above.

    Permission of Instructor required.

  3. Advanced Poetry Workshop

    The Advanced Poetry Workshop is designed for students invested in poetry writing, performance, and publication. The course builds on previous workshop experience in poetry (including a completed portfolio of poems), with the aim of deepening and extending ambitious practice. We will concentrate on subject, form, and the contemporary scene, using instructor- and student-selected texts (from spdbooks.org, and elsewhere) as examples and models. Performance, publication, and active participation in local and wider contexts will be encouraged and facilitated. Students will develop an independent project which they will submit in whole or part to excellent online and/or print venues, and document sustainably in print and/or digital form. We will also develop a collective publication, and a final community event. Prerequisite: ENGL E411 Beginning Poetry Writing Workshop, or by permission of instructor (with equivalent workshop experience and portfolio of work).

    Open to sophomore and above

    Permission of Instructor required.

  4. African American Realism: 1940-1960

    Richard Wright (an author whose influence loomed large throughout the Realist period) expressed his admiration for what he called "fighting with words: using words as weapons." Throughout this course we will examine the variety of ways in which writers of the Realist period used their writing as a "weapon" to protest against the racism they saw as endemic to white American society and as a means of linking the African-American struggle for equality with other forms of political struggle occurring worldwide. Marked by a focus on urban realism, the role of the environment in the shaping of the individual, and a close interrelation of literature and politics, the Realist novel revealed the ways in which African Americans were denied the "American Dream" and, in James Baldwin's words, provided a new language with which to express the African American experience. Authors include Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Anne Petry, Chester Himes, Ralph Ellison and Gwendolyn Brooks.

  5. African Poetry

    There is a rich tradition of poetry across the African continent. In this course we will look at some precolonial orature, then move to the major figures of the late colonial period, the early postcolonial period, and the anti-apartheid struggle - Ama Ata Aidoo, Dennis Brutus, James Matthews, Christopher Okigbo, Leopold Senghor - before moving to look at some contemporary voices - Ingrid de Kok, Tanure Ojaide, Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang, Ladan Osman, and Warshan Shire.

  6. Art, Magic And Science In Renaissance Europe

    The early modern period saw the emergence of disciplines that are akin to those we use to organize knowledge today. But our discrete categories, which would have science and art at opposite ends of an empirical spectrum, then enjoyed much greater overlap with one another. So for example, alchemists might have had a general reputation for being con men, but a royal court could still hire one to serve as a trusted adviser and legitimate physical scientist, and a broad range of pursuits could be described by the terms philosophy and art. Focusing mostly on English and Italian writers, we will examine the affinities and antagonisms among the figures of the artist, the scientist, and the magician. We will read works by Machiavelli, Bruno, Vasari, Marlowe, Ficino, Jonson, Shakespeare, and Spenser, with an eye turned toward the dynamics of mystification and demystification of discourses and practices as the world became "modern." There will be regular short writing assignments and a final exam.

  7. Before And After "Man": Objects, Animals, Sex, And Reace In Genres Of The Post-human

    This course explores the human as a temporally specific and, perhaps, obsolescing philosophical concept. Emerging most cogently in the European Enlightenment, humans materialize as the center of their own concerns, i.e. humanism, through a set of binary oppositions that include human/god, human/animal, human/savage, hu(man)/woman, human/machine, subject/object etc. Post-humanism, broadly conceived, seeks to mark, blur, upend, and/or abolish the distinction or relationship between the opposed terms of these binaries. This course begins by attempting to account for how the human/Man came to prominence during the economic, social and geopolitical conditions of the 17th and 18th century in order to understand the threads of thought that contemporary genres of Post-humanisms attempt to unravel: such as animal studies, object oriented ontology, AI studies, and feminist and black studies in the subject of "Man." The course then turns to these various subgenres in order to think through post-humanism's ethical, political, and social stakes in our contemporary moment.

  8. Birds In Books

    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.

  9. Blake And Hogarth

    William Hogarth (1697-1764) was a practical-minded painter and engraver who sought artistic independence from aristocratic patronage and cultural respect for printmaking as an art. His greatest innovation was a form of narrative painting and printmaking, marketed to the public at large, in which he presented original stories, essentially visual novels, that challenged the groups that had until then controlled the content and distribution of art, that is, the religious and political establishments. William Blake (1757-1827) was a profoundly impractical painter, poet and engraver who challenged church, state, commerce, and everything else, including time and space, illustrating his own stories and visions as well as a very large proportion of past literary works in ways that reveal their visionary potential. We will study an array of Hogarth's serial and independent works, as well as several of Blake's "illuminated books," literary and biblical illustrations, and un-illustrated poems. Students will do independent research and write short papers for all class meetings.

    Also offered as LAS-C221; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  10. Canterbury Tales

    One night, late in the fourteenth century, in a tavern outside London, a quiet little fellow named Geoffrey, so the story goes, joined a lively crew about to ride sixty miles to Canterbury. To entertain themselves on the way, they began a story-telling contest. The premise is fiction; however, the resulting Canterbury Tales offers some of the most memorable poetic narratives ever written. Geoffrey Chaucer (1345-1400), called sometimes the "father" of English poetry, wrote tales of back-alley rendezvous, the lives of knights, saints, and independent women, the misadventures of talking chickens, and more than one scurrilous story about scheming students. Participants in the class will learn to read Middle English as we go (which is not as difficult as it might seem: think Shakespeare with funny spelling). There will be regular quizzes, midterm and final exams, and a modestly researched critical paper.

  11. Digital Poetics

    This course focuses first on what has been achieved this century in poetry which engages with new technology at the level of making, i.e., poetry that is "born digital." We will assemble an inventory of markers of the new poetics. How do new capacities for color, animation, sound, video, interactivity, change poetry's identity as literary art? What is the place of the English language, or any language, in digital poetry? Does the born digital indicate the future of poetry at large, already intersecting with digital media at critical levels of production, publication, and distribution? How have power dynamics between author/editor/publisher/reader changed? What is the political/economy of poetry today? Texts will include the Electronic Literature Collection, Volumes 1-3, 2006-2016 (free), Mediawork Pamphlets (MIT Press), and a range of essays by contemporary practitioners and theorists (available on ubuweb, arras.net, eliterature.org, epc.buffalo.edu, etc). Student work will include weekly written observations, one close reading of a single piece of work (or several related works by one or more authors); a research project on one key element of digital poetics; and one digital poem. We will have a class blog in magazine format, and all students must also have an online forum for the posting of work-in-progress.

  12. Ecological Invention In Early America

    How can looking back to early America help us think and act in our present age of ecological crisis? In this course, we will explore the roots of American ideas about nature, environmentalism, and ecology in literature from the pre-colonial era through the mid-nineteenth century. We will study the wide-ranging ecological views of Euro-colonial (un)settlers of North America and their indigenous counterparts, both Native Americans and enslaved African transplants. In particular, we will examine how the confluence of these cultures influenced ideas about the conservation and exploitation of nature to varying degrees. To do so, we will ask how early-American environmental writers defined nature and what these definitions included and excluded. Were humans part of nature or distinct from it, and which people counted as fully human? Was slavery a natural or unnatural state? Was America a place for farmer-settlers or backwoods hunters and traders? Was its vast wilderness a refuge for religious worship or the devil's territory? To what degree did human dominion over the natural world and its resources extend? Were animals reasoning subjects, instinctual objects of scientific study, or merely animate natural resources? Along the way, we will also ask how nature writing developed as its own multimedia genre during the period, as well as how it influenced various other genres of imaginative literature.

  13. First-year Literature Seminar

    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.

    Please contact the department concerning any registration questions.

  14. From Literary To Cultural Studies

    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.

  15. Liary

    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.

  16. Literary Art: Blake And Hogarth

    This class can be taken for credit in either LAS or HAVC. William Hogarth (1697-1764) was a practical-minded painter and engraver who sought artistic independence from aristocratic patronage and cultural respect for printmaking as an art. His greatest innovation was a form of narrative painting and printmaking, marketed to the public at large, in which he presented original stories, essentially visual novels, that challenged the groups that had until then controlled the content and distribution of art, that is, the religious and political establishments. William Blake (1757-1827) was a profoundly impractical painter, poet and engraver who challenged church, state, commerce, and everything else, including time and space, illustrating his own stories and visions as well as a very large proportion of past literary works in ways that reveal their visionary potential. We will study an array of Hogarth's serial and independent works, as well as several of Blake's "illuminated books," literary and biblical illustrations, and un-illustrated poems. Students will do independent research and write short papers for all class meetings.

    Offered as LAS-C221 or HAVC-C221; Register into the course for which credit is desired.

  17. Romantic To Edwardian British Literature

    Although it dovetails with LAS E211, usually offered in the fall, this discussion-based course can be taken by itself. It surveys major and minor works of British literature, mostly poetry and prose fiction, from the late 1700s to the early 20th century, with consideration of the way these works relate to broad social and cultural phenomena including philosophy, gender politics, aesthetics and visual arts. Regular homework exercises emphasize independent critical and investigative reading of complex texts and images; formal writing assignments develop your ability to combine your insights with those gained from research, open-book midterm and final exams allow you to demonstrate your ability to analyze unfamiliar works and place them in context with those we have studied. Readings include (mostly short) works by Charlotte Smith, Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Percy and Mary Shelley ("Transformation"), Tennyson, Elizabeth B. and Robert Browning, Hopkins, Housman, Yeats, Stevenson (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Conrad ("The Secret Sharer"), and Lawrence.

  18. Sem: Natural History: Local, Global, Analog, Digital

    This seminar has two primary goals: 1. To engage critically with natural history as a literary and visual art form and with its history as a scientific practice. 2. To collaborate on projects and experiments that employ digital and analog methods for analyzing, interpreting, archiving, curating, and creating visual and literary works of natural history. Throughout the semester, we will visit local and regional museums, labs, and field sites to facilitate these goals.

    Natural history is a crucial genre for understanding the origins of modern environmentalism, the history of science, discourses of race, and the nature of European imperialism. As an artistic and epistemological practice, natural history enjoyed the height of its popularity during the early modern and enlightenment periods, as European explorers, traders, and colonizers endeavored to classify, catalog, explain, and exploit the diverse flora and fauna of the Americas. In the process, they encountered (and often ignored or stole from) the complex folk biology of various Native American cultures. Especially in the Americas, natural historical knowledge production depended on the collaboration of various cultures within profoundly uneven power dynamics: European explorers and creolized American naturalists, political leaders and ordinary citizens, amateur collectors and professional theorists, men and women, slaveholders and enslaved people, and Euro-colonial traders and indigenous Americans. Furthermore, early naturalists were polymaths-scientists, philosophers, political leaders, artists, writers, collectors, and traders-before the stratification of the modern sciences into disciplines that took place during the nineteenth century. As science became a more professional and specialized endeavor, natural history evolved into various forms of amateur field science, environmental art, and nature writing. As such, our course materials will range from the late medieval period to the present.

  19. The Jewish Narrative

    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.

  20. The Literatures Of Africa

    In this course we will begin to explore the literature emerging out of postcolonial Africa, looking at novels, short stories, poetry, and drama. With over 40 independent countries and a multiplicity of cultures, any course of this nature can only be an overview. However, we will read a number of important writers of the last fifty years, including Chinua Achebe, Nadine Gordimer, Christopher Okigbo, Wole Soyinka, and Ngugi wa Thiong'o, as well as lesser known writers including Tayeb Salih and M.G. Vassanji, and explore some of the problems facing independent African countries.

  21. Thingamajigirl: Objects, Humans, Femininity

    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.

  22. Visualizing The Environment Through Comics And Graphic Literature

    In this course, we will discuss how comics and other forms of literary-visual art illuminate various environmental concepts. Environmental problems result not merely from political negligence or technological expansion. They also result from, and persist as, problems of representation. Beginning from this position, we will consider comics art as a unique medium for telling stories about how humans and other animals relate to their environments, focusing especially on the form's capacity for representing time, space, word, and image in sequence. To further enrich our understanding of the cultural values and concepts that undergird the environmental decisions individuals, communities, and institutions make every day, we will examine how environmental problems intersect with issues of race, class, disability, gender, and sexuality. As astute environmental critics, we will dismantle the experience of reading comics, and the craft of making them, through a series of short essays and by making our own comics. In other words, we will come to understand comics art as a medium for both creative and critical invention. Though most of our course readings will be comics produced in the last 30 years, we will also look at comic strips, zines, art books, illuminated manuscripts, broadside ballads, and natural histories that cover a longer time span, dating back to the Middle Ages.

    Open to sophomore and above.

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