Fall 2021

  1. 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. Alfred Hitchcock famously revealed that he looked not for a story to tell but a visual problem to solve. With a career that spanned silent to sound, black-and-white to color and film to television, Hitchcock mastered all time-arts media while consistently focused on representing our manias, monsters, and madness. He was a sly cultural commentator of his milieu, filming the first serial killer movie, the first natural disaster flick, and the first psychological thrillers. As a result, his films provide a basic education in filmmaking as well as critical analyses of popular social context. This course attempts to cover the breath of Hitchcock's oeuvre focusing on both his masterful cinematic techniques and his jaundiced analyses of modern society. In addition to Hitchcock's films and television productions, we will read Hitchcock's own comments on filmmaking, significant popular socio-historical texts and film theory. We will also look to recent international revisions of Hitchcock by Jordan Peele, Pedro Almodóvar, Lou Ye, Yim Ho and others. Regular papers will synthesize all required texts to master the Master.
  3. 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.
  4. The Beginning Poetry Workshop is an elective course introducing students to the art of poetry writing. The course sequentially addresses major commitments of poetry including form/content, sound, line, voice, image, language(s), tradition/convention, experiment, audience, revision, performance, collection, publication, and distribution. Workshop is the heart of the course, animating the practice, discourse, critique, audience, community, and mentorship vital to poets. Every class will also include close reading, discussion of assigned texts, and writing. We will attend public readings, curate and participate in community readings, and welcome poets to our class, when possible. Work can be developed in a range of styles, traditions, and languages. You will leave this class with a collection of workshopped and revised poems, which you will design, self-publish, and distribute in print and/or digital form. The Beginning Poetry Workshop is a prerequisite for the LAS-E421 Advanced Poetry Workshop in the Spring.
  5. Freedom is not a secret. It's a practice. - Alexis Pauline Gumbs, M Archive. In tracing the entanglements of performance, critical theory, and everyday practice, this seminar explores sites of contemporary Black Feminist Experimentalism. Across geopolitical contexts, we will define Black Feminist Experimentalism and the range of (im)possibilities held within its fabric. Our investigation of practice-and what makes it radical-will work from the convergence(s) of critical theory and artistic, performative practice. We will theorize performance beyond theatricality, audience, and stage to connect it to practices of embodiment; (mis)representation; ritual interactions; protest; and other modes of communication. What political tenets and material aesthetics drive contemporary forms of Black experimentalism and how do they become important sites of racialized knowledge production? Where do erotics, interiority, and pleasure exist within experimentalisms? How do the interruptive capacities of these practices encompass a range of political strategies that contest racialized, gendered violence? Finally, how has Black Feminist Experimentalism become a primary, not auxiliary, force in contemporary movements for Black liberation? This seminar serves as a dynamic, intermediate introduction to the fields of Black Studies, Black Performance Theory, and Black Feminist Theory. We will put these fields in conversation with emergent artistic practices and political movements. This course will invite several guest speakers and artists whose work foregrounds Blackness, liberatory aesthetics, and queerness and students will have an opportunity to engage their own artistic, performative practices.
  6. The Gothic tradition in literature has a wide and varied history. It is filled with contradictions that create a kind of uneasy unity; the natural world and the uncanny; patriarchal structures and strong women; and the awful beauty of the sublime. It also goes hand in hand with the vampire tales, that Nina Auerbach says "have been our companions for so long that it is hard to imagine ourselves living without them." This course will explore the places vampire and Gothic novels, short fiction, and film intersect and diverge, as well as the way these genres approach representations of the monstrous feminine. We will consider these works of fiction in their cultural contexts using frameworks from gender studies, and feminist and post-colonial theory. Texts will include vampire stories from around the world, the European origins of the Gothic, and contemporary work that challenges the boundaries of both genres. As seminar participants, students will take an active role in class meetings, and produce research and project-based work.
  7. This course looks at writing from the greater Caribbean from the 1950s to the present. We will be reading both fiction and poetry, looking at works that consider nationalism, PanAfricanism, environmental issues, tourism, and violence. Some writers who might be included are Kamau Brathwaite, Aime Cesaire, Patrick Chamoiseau, Michelle Cliff, Edwidge Danticat, Lorna Goodison, Wilson Harris, Jamaica Kincaid, George Lamming, Bob Marley, and Derek Walcott. We will also be listening to music, looking at contemporary art, and watching films.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. This course identifies and focuses on key practices in contemporary poetry including Spoken Word, Digital Language Arts, translation, and hybrid or twinned publication between page and screen. Spoken Word speaks to the origins of poetry in public performance. Digital Language Arts open up the funfair of color, animation and sound which print closed down, while also seizing back self-publication --and distribution on an unprecedented scale. Multiplicity seems more apt than singularity today. We are more or less obliged to work across media, disciplines, languages, and political boundaries, and to present work in multiple forms. It's a time of both/and rather than either/or. We will discuss and write about a range of contemporary print, digital, and performance works; students will also compose and publish/perform at least one single-authored or collaborative poem. Contemporary Poetry is one of a set of multimodal courses including Sound Poetry, Visual Poetry, Digital Poetics, and Material Poetics, investigating sensory and material poetic traditions in contemporary culture. All courses have creative, critical, research, and performance/publication commitments.
  11. In this course, we will discuss how comics and other forms of literary-visual art illuminate various environmental concepts. Environmental problems are caused not merely by technological expansion or political negligence. They also result from, and persist as, problems of representation. An environmental crisis is a cultural crisis. 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, gender, sexuality, and disability. As astute environmental critics, we will dismantle the experience of reading comics, and the craft of making them, through frequent in-class discussions, creative projects, and a series of analytical assignments in both written and comics form. These assignments will help us come to understand comics art as a medium for both creative and critical invention. Throughout the semester, we will read comics in various formats and genres, including (but not limited to) graphic novels, comic strips, serialized comic books, zines, web comics, illustrated journals, manga, memoir, biography, fiction, and journalism.
  12. 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 and consider as well the genre's incursions into film. Texts might include: Homer's Iliad or Odyssey, Virgil's Aeneid, Dante's Inferno, and Walcott's Omeros. There will be midterm and final examinations, an independently researched essay, and regular short writing assignments.
  13. 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 semester, freshmen are pre-registered into this course. Students should contact the Academic Programs Coordinator to add or drop this course. Transfers and upperlevel students, please contact the Academic Programs Coordinator for registration into one of the evening sections of E101 in either the Fall or Spring semester. questions.
  14. In the last decades, modernist studies has moved far beyond its initial focus on a group of male Anglo-American High Modernists writing between 1890 and 1940. What the field now refers to as modernisms encompass popular and elite forms alike, some emphasizing stylistic form and others not, authored by men and women of diverse racial and national identities, class backgrounds, and political affiliations. Like modernity, which modernism is generally seen to respond to, modernism viewed on a global scale has appeared unevenly and irregularly across time and geographic space and thus defies periodization. This course will survey global literary modernisms from a comparative perspective, attending to how the notions of the world and the modern are engaged in texts by such authors as Charles Baudelaire (France), Joseph Conrad (England), Bertolt Brecht (Germany), Anna Akhmatova (Russia), Constantine Cavafy (Greece), Rabindranath Tagore (India), Jean Rhys (Dominican Rep.), Nella Larsen (U.S.), Jorge Luiz Borges (Argentina), Aimé Cesaré (Martinique), Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar (Turkey), Eileen Chang (China), and others.
  15. Horror stories are a literary & artistic expression of anxiety. It's not odd at all that we still write about ghosts when we're busy churning up & examining the crimes of our ancestors, or that we write contagion stories (zombies!) during a pandemic, or apocalyptic horror as we face the effects of climate change. Horror stories can be-as is true of any literature-artful, profound, entertaining, and -as Ezra Pound would say-news. We'll read a selection of stories-fundamental classics, lesser-known but influential stories, and contemporary attempts-to identify genre characteristics and to locate elements that define the genre's power. We'll also read works written about horror by horror authors and test their claims. To deepen our understanding of the genre even further-in addition to essays & exams-students will have the option to try their hand at writing an original horror story. Open to sophomores and above.
  16. This course traces the ways a war experience is both imagined and remembered in short fiction and films of the long twentieth-century amidst a marked acceleration of both mass warfare and ecological change. In Authoring War, Kate McLoughlin notes that the "challenge for war writing is to convey this charged space, to communicate this complex situation-part psycho-physiological, part geographical-that is conflict." In a ground war, knowledge of the terrain can mean the difference between life and death for a soldier. The earth, in this sense can be both refuge of safety, or, harbinger of death. For civilians, home-place is often transformed from a familiar site of sanctuary into a foreign-seeming environment of hostility. We will read works by both soldier and civilian authors-such as Tim O'Brien, Brian Turner, J.D. Salinger, Tadeusz Borowski, Tamiki Hara, Elizabeth Bowen, and Arthur Machen-and watch films depicting World War I, the Vietnam War, and other conflicts-such as 1917 and Apocalypse Now. As we do so, we will ask: How does the setting of war function as more than mere backdrop? Why does natural imagery become a standard trope for representing some of the most traumatic aspects of the war experience? As we contextualize our readings and viewings by looking to scholars of trauma as well as to environmental historians of war, we will consider some of the ways that the environmental aesthetics of war may be linked to our own hostilities towards the environment in a time of climate crisis.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Literature is one facet of culture. The significance of a literature can be best understood in terms of the culture from which it springs, and the purpose is clear only when the reader understands and accepts the assumptions on which literature is based" (Paula Gunn Allen-Laguna Sioux poet). This course will explore value systems and aesthetics that are from very diverse Native cultures, focusing on the ways in which indigenousness relates to literature and storytelling. The critical methodologies developed by Native critics such as Gerald Vizenor (Anishinaabe writer and scholar), and Craig Womack (Muscogee Creek-Cherokee author and professor of Native Studies) will enable us to study Native frameworks and new ways to regard literature/histories. We will explore questions such as can Native American theory/literature transform or challenge non-Native critical theoretical strategies. Our discussions, which may take a variety of directions, will also examine such issues as American Indian identities and communities as well as the impact of colonization on tribal peoples.
  22. 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 LAS-E416 and ILLUS-3612 and will receive 3 studio credits and 3 liberal arts credits.
  23. This course will focus on the literary expression of American counterculture during the 1950s and 60s the so-called 'Beat' and 'Hippie' generations. The writers, artists, musicians, and bohemians who gave voice to counterculture during these two decades impacted not only literature and art, but also revolutionized social and political ideologies. Their emphasis on individual freedom, spiritual liberation, and subcultural hipness, called on all Americans to define their "authentic" selves, to seek higher consciousnesses, and to resist the establishment's repressive mandate that we remain passive consumers rather than active creators. With literature as our guide, we'll begin by examining the Beat movement with its emphasis on spontaneity and the search for 'ITO' we'll then look at how Beat aesthetics and ideologies were adopted and politicized during the heyday of the Hippie movement; finally, we'll consider the impact of these earlier generations on later countercultural movements such as the Punks of the 70s and early 80s. In the course of our reading, we'll consider the impact of cultural contexts and political motivations on the literature: the Cold War; McCarthyism; the rise of mass consumer culture and mass media; the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements; and shifting politics around gender and sexuality. We'll also investigate how members of those groups already on the margins of dominant socio-political discourse-women, racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities-relate to the notion of counterculture. Expect readings from Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Sylvia Plath, Tom Wolfe, Joseph Heller, Jim Carroll, Aaron Cometbus, and Hunter S. Thompson.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. This seminar explores roles women have played in wars for independence and democracy across the Global South. As the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo depicts in his iconic film, The Battle of Algiers (1966), some women fought alongside men carrying bombs in the fight for freedom from French imperialism in Algeria. However, more often, women have forged their own paths parallel to men enacting complex forms of resistance through art, mobilizing domesticity, and protest. Using women's participation in Algerian independence in the 1950s as our starting point, we will engage with women who resist the reductive fantasy of the bomb-carrying female freedom fighter throughout world. Figures under our investigative lens will include Assia Djebar who illustrates women playing new roles outside of the home in Algeria; women who led the peacemaking process in Liberia to bring Africa's first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to power; and Lina Ben Mhenni who used social media in Tunisia to show the world injustice taking place under a repressive regime in 2010. Alongside these memoirs, literary texts, historical documents, and films by and about women at war, we will develop a critical vocabulary of women at work reading theorists that include Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, Gayatri Spivak, and Judith Butler. Over the course of the semester, we will put these voices in conversation with one another in order to reconstruct alternative histories of resisting oppression in the Global South and beyond.
  27. 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.
  28. To be a lesbian, according to Monique Wittig, seems the simplest and most complex mode of desiring: "she who was interested in 'only' half of the population and had a violent desire for that half." In a world overcrowded by the voices and bodies of men, how does a lesbian carve out physical and imaginative space to let her desires free? This course will explore how this question has been addressed by daring, renegade lesbian writers who have used the medium of textual narrative to produce both history and future. Rather than reading these novels as historical document, sociological artifact, or even personal testaments, we will digest them as performance, wish-fulfillment, blueprint for a world in which love and sex between women reign.
  29. This course, besides revisiting the traditional narrative elements of spy and detective fiction, considers a selection of the increasing number of late twentieth- and twenty-first-century transnational, diasporic, postcolonial, and minority/ethnic authors from around the world who adapt spy and detective fiction conventions for the purpose of social critique. In focusing on issues related to identity, "culture," ethics, human rights, justice, and knowledge construction narrated by these fictions, we will examine carefully, for example, the figure of the spy or detective as outsider to and observer of society as well as, in the works at issue here, frequently an immigrant or cultural or social "other." In the process, we will also engage questions central to reading, interpreting, and comparing fiction in a global context.
  30. 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.
  31. In this course we will discover how struggles of identity and justice interact with representations of the environment in the literatures of Africana, Chicano/a, Asian, and Native American authors. We will investigate and appraise how these authors portray nature as theme, plot, character, and setting to accomplish the environmental aims of their texts.

Wintersession 2022

  1. The LAS portion of "See Naples and Die": Cooler and Warmer will examine the natural and social histories that shaped Naples at its inception and which continue to characterize it in the modern era. Having begun as a trading city for westward-expanding Greek interests in the Mediterranean, Naples grew to be the second capital of imperial Rome, the preeminent city of medieval and early modern Europe, and was transformed yet again as old-style monarchy, new global imperialism, and radical republican revolutionaries converged on the bay. In coordination with our travel itinerary, we will swing back through antiquity to consider the crucial role Naples played in Greek trade and Roman state mythology, history and the sciences (Vesuvius's eruption in 79 CE being a key event), and then on to its continuing prosperity through the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The course will conclude with narratives addressing the region's modern challenges precipitated by the advent of Italian nationhood in the late 19th Century, and in the present global economy and its attendant immigration crises, with a focus on how, despite the relocation of cultural and economic privilege away from Campania, the city continues to exert an important influence on the peninsula and the world at large. In the course's second half, we will consider directly current ethical questions about Neapolitan civic, economic and environmental imperatives. This is a co-requisite course. Students must plan and register for LAS-W725 and LDAR-W625. Students will receive 3 studio credits and 3 liberal arts credits. Applications open in September. Registration begins in October at a time to be announced. All students are required to remain in good academic standing in order to participate in the WS travel course/studio. A minimum GPA of 2.50 is required. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the course, either before or during the course. Also in cases where WS travel courses and studios do not reach student capacity, the course may be cancelled after the last day of Wintersession travel course registration. As such, all students are advised not to purchase flights for participation in Wintersession travel courses until the course is confirmed to run, which happens within the week after the final Wintersession travel course registration period. Permission of Instructor required. Open to first year students with approval from the Dean of Experimental & Foundation Studies. 2022WS Estimated Travel Cost: $2,629.00 - airfare not included. ***Off-Campus Study***
  2. "I'm for a blues-inflected hope rather than a cheap American optimism," says Professor Cornel West, drawing from the frequently paradoxical definitions of the blues (e.g., "a good man feelin' bad" or "a bad woman feelin' good"). Nobody can say precisely where blues music came from or when, though the numerous cultural and musical strands that feed into it can be mapped as music by the poorest people in the wealthiest nation on Earth. Whether acknowledged or not, it is certain that a blues ethic, alongside a blues aesthetic sits, at the core of worldwide popular culture and a broad swath of American life. This course will focus on the blues from its early 20th Century manifestations through to its mid-century "revival" and on to the current, second-wave revival. Gaining popularity during the Jim Crow era, the blues became a medium through which to address matters of race, regionalism, class, gender and sexuality, and it continues to do so. Even in its "down-home" or "country" aspect, the blues had close associations with the modern and post-slavery mobility; at its most sophisticated, the blues was jazz. "Can't Be Satisfied" will introduce students to the wide variety of blues music by way of original recordings well as the documentary film, and literature the music inspired (drama, poetry, prose fiction and autobiography). Participants in the course will become familiar with a range of artists as they read works by James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Michael Harper, Langston Hughes, Tyehimba Jess, Gayl Jones, Toni Morrison, Kevin Young and August Wilson, among others.
  3. This course asks students to travel back to the 1930s and contextualize the various artistic and cultural movements that comprised the Federal Theater Project and the WPA arts projects. The course will revolve around the 1999 film by Tim Robbins, Cradle Will Rock, and the Marc Blitzstein original, as well as supplementary materials researched by the students involving any aspect of the film, from Brechtian and Documentary drama to Mexican muralism to labor issues to race and gender resistance to LGBTQ histories and on. Students will research toward a final artistic project that comprises the requirement for the course.
  4. Practitioners in the Environmental Humanities (EH) engage in disciplinary and cross-disciplinary research in the humanities to think about representation, meaning, value, ethics, and power in relation to environmental questions, issues, and crises. EH offers a capacious umbrella under which to gather inquiry in anthropology, art and design, critical animal studies, cultural studies, film studies, history, literary studies, philosophy, and visual studies, among other disciplines, methodologies, and modes. In this course, "Environmental Humanities Research Seminar," students will engage in independent, liberal arts-based research in the environmental humanities in order to contextualize, extend, and/or refine an existing project or to develop a new project. The work under development could be either a liberal-arts based project or a studio-based project that would be deepened through liberal-arts based research. In addition to deep curiosity about one's subject matter, receptivity to the messiness of the research process, and a willingness to support other classmates in their research, this class requires excellent time management skills. Assignments will include: an annotated bibliography, reflective writing, a final paper, and a final presentation.
  5. 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.
  6. Stage magic, perhaps because it must conceal any record of its craft, is often neglected among the performing arts. Yet it exerts a powerful hold on our imaginations, and our language is peppered by its terms (prestige, enchanting, smoke and mirrors, pulling a rabbit out of a hat, etc). So what exactly is the allure of magic? What are its cultural functions? And what, in turn, can magic reveal about the fears or wishes of its audience? Through the lens of literature, anthropology, cultural and performance studies, this course will examine the history of magic in the modern world and its place in contemporary culture. We will consider the development of magic as an art form over the course of the 19th century, the dynamics of a magic trick, the bodily and cultural politics of magic performance, and the surprising prevalence of magic in contemporary literature, film, and commerce. Texts will include fiction by Steven Millhauser and Tim O'Brien, films by Orson Welles and Christopher Nolan, and a range of historical, theoretical, and archival materials. Students will complete several shorter essays and a longer researched paper. (No skill in prestidigitation required!)
  7. 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.
  8. 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. Also offered as LAS-W508; Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  9. What does it mean to live well in a place? And what do stories have to do with it? This class will examine the struggle to create just, reciprocal relationships with our own human and biotic communities. To do so, we will read essays, memoirs, and novels that define, diversify, and complicate a sense of place and a connection to home, community, and environment. Authors may include Sarah Broom, Barbara Kingsolver, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Providence-based Elizabeth Rush; in all cases, place and storytelling will be central to the authors' projects. Finally, by exploring oral histories and student publications on RISD's Digital Commons, we will research and think together about the place we share. In addition to regular reading and writing assignments, as well as outings into our Providence community, this course will culminate in a project that creates a class archive of the communities, histories, and landscapes in which we are embedded.
  10. A subculture characterized as part youth rebellion, part artistic statement, punk has lingered and transmogrified in popular discourse since its heyday in the 1970s. In this class we'll delve into the history of social, musical, and aesthetic manifestations of punk in the U.S. and UK and investigate the connections between punk's DIY, anti-authoritarian ethos and the politics of the late-twentieth century. We'll embrace a cultural studies framework to examine punk production in its various material and discursive forms-- music, fashion, film, manifestos, revolutions, etc. Throughout, we'll turn a critical eye towards investigating expectations and performances of gender, race, and class in a range of punk communities (i.e. Queercore, Riot Grrl, etc). Our discussions and your writing will be informed by scholarly books and articles, narrative accounts of punk, film screenings, and a lot of loud music.
  11. In this writing workshop, we will explore the short story, working to put into words what we--as individual readers and writers--hope to find in it. We'll consider what makes a story a story, while acknowledging that it is often something ineffable, indefinable. We'll read a range of contemporary and classic writers and will also read essays on craft. A significant amount of class time will be devoted to in-class writing and peer workshops. At the end of the term, students will be expected to submit a portfolio made up of reflections, rough drafts, and revised stories.
  12. Professional actor/director Fred Sullivan (Trinity Repertory Company/Gamm Theatre/ Commonwealth Shakespeare resident artist and RISD Acting Workshop instructor) will guide a company of student actors, designers, stage managers through a workshop process of producing a live play for the stage, culminating in a two public performances of the production. Students in this course will be asked to: rehearse and perform assigned roles; accept assigned duties on graphic, projection and property/costume design, construction and stage management crews; commit to a flexible rehearsal 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 and original work. 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.

Spring 2022

  1. 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. Permission of Instructor required.
  2. The Advanced Poetry Workshop is an intensive project-based poetry workshop for students with previous workshop experience and a portfolio of revised work on which to build. The course centers on workshop: peer critique by students with previous practice in poetry writing, and the shared goal of completing a semester-long publication/performance project. Students are expected to have a strong commitment to active participation in contemporary poetry as readers, writers, curators, performers, and audience. Teaching and learning methodologies include close reading of exemplary texts, experimentation with forms, revision, online/print publication, and performance. Texts will include poetry collections published in 2019 and 2020, as selected by students and instructor. The workshop welcomes work in any language and from any tradition of poetry. To the greatest extent possible, the work should speak for itself. But mediation, translation, contextualization also play a vital role. Prerequisite: LAS-E411 Beginning Poetry Writing Workshop, or equivalent experience. Permission of Instructor required.
  3. 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.
  4. "In every generation and in every intellectual sphere and in every political moment, there have been African American women who have articulated the need to think and talk about race through a lens that looks at gender, or think and talk about feminism through a lens that looks at race. So this is in continuity with that." --Kimberlé Crenshaw "I really didn't let gender and race issues bother me. I knew I would have trouble with both. I was determined to do what I was going to do at any cost. I kept plugging away. Whatever I had to do, I did it." --Madeline Anderson, from Reel Black Talk This course will be an intense and focused examination of Black Women's film-making in the USA beginning with the 1970's LA Rebellion/UCLA Rebellion of Black Filmmakers through contemporary work. The critical journey will include Black feminist & womanist political theories, Black Feminist manifestos, histories of black women filmmakers and traditional film theory & Black film aesthetic theories. We will consider Black women's documentary tradition, their relation to and gendered representation of African-American to African heritage; and intersectional POV of race, gender, sexuality, and class. 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 a space that is too often decentered.
  5. In her now-famous speech at the World Economic Forum, Greta Thunberg implored the adults in the room, "I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is." As a literary genre, coming of age, or the bildungsroman, has always meant a shifting relationship to authority as young people develop their own understanding of the world. But what does it mean to come of age on a planet whose future is uncertain? In this course, we will examine the representations of young people and the environment in select American coming-of-age novels. How does our environment shape who we are and who we will become? Whose childhoods are devastated by environmental hazards? What kinds of education can build a more sustainable future? Possible authors include: Jesmyn Ward, Karen Thompson Walker, Octavia Butler, Helena María Viramontes, Ann Pancake, and Brandon Hobson. Throughout, the course will emphasize critical thinking, multicultural perspectives, and socio-historical contexts. Open to sophomores and above.
  6. In this course, "Contemporary Ecopoetries: North Americas+," students will examine poems published after 1970 in order to explore how they encounter, diagnose, and respond to environmental topics such as climate change, extinction, extractivism, (in)justice, place, and toxicity, among other concerns. As the course title indicates, one grounding assumption of the course is that there are many, differently-experienced North Americas. Authors may include Sherwin Bitsui, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Natalie Diaz, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, dg nanouk okpik, Craig Santos Perez, Juliana Spahr, and Natasha Trethewey. For Spring 2021, the course will utilize both synchronous meetings and asynchronous work. Course activities will include reading, analyzing, and discussing poems and critical essays, as well as regular writing assignments. These course activities will prepare students to embark on their own ecopoetries research in order to complete the final project. For the final project each student will produce a mini-anthology on a topic of their choosing that gathers, introduces, and critically responds to a set of existing ecopoetic texts.
  7. When you are sitting on the bus reading Fifty Shades of Grey, the act of reading becomes a performance: the particular cultural exchange value of this novel has the effect of feminizing your body, no matter what its biological makeup. This is the work of a genre of fiction we call "Chick Lit." With playfulness and rigor, this seminar will take up the mechanism of this genre into a feminist and theoretical content. Hlne Cixous, Hortense J. Spillers, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Avital Ronell represent a group of feminist thinkers who have used fictionality in the craft of writing theory. Studying these and other feminist theorists, we will delve into the functionality of fiction as gendering device by focusing on the craft of theorizing as a craft of fiction writing. What are the ways in which theory can function as fiction? What are the points of intersection between writing theory and writing fiction that can be used productively for the constitution of not just a feminine body, but a feminist consciousness?
  8. 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 semester, freshmen are pre-registered into this course. Students should contact the Academic Programs Coordinator to add or drop this course. Transfers and upperlevel students, please contact the Academic Programs Coordinator for registration into one of the evening sections of E101 in either the Fall or Spring semester. questions.
  9. 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.
  10. We are all familiar with the moral of the story that comes at the end of a fairy tale. Charles Perrault's "Little Red Riding Hood" cautions unmarried young ladies not to let "wolves" into their beds, while the Grimm's "Little Red Cap" chastises girls for not listening closely to their mothers. Traditional versions of these tales are conduct manuals, cautionary tales, and homemaking primers for young girls, but they also address the underlying uncertainties associated with growing up and entering adulthood. Over the years, the fairy tale has been retold or reimagined to reflect shifting gender norms, and changing cultural anxieties around the transition to adulthood. Most recently, adaptations on the large and small screens have asked us to consider the motivations of the fairy tale's most notorious female villains in the context of traditional gender roles such as wife and mother. This course will examine tellings and retellings of four classic fairy tales: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Bluebeard. We will read and watch classic versions, contemporary retellings, and film and television adaptations of these texts that both challenge and reinforce ideas of gender normativity, contextualized by readings in feminist theory, gender studies, and psychoanalytic theory. We will also put these western tales in conversation with other similar literary texts and folk tales from around the world, and yes, we will talk about Disney.
  11. The playwriting workshop is an introduction to the basic principles of scriptwriting for live performance. Students will examine the form as a storytelling technology, an intervention, an act of embodied vandalism. We will collectively ask: How do you spawn an idea? How do you construct dialogue on the page? Through rhythm, intent, given circumstances? How do we shape that dialogue into character? Narrative? Alongside dramatic action, how do we construct the physical and fictive environments for story to occur? This class intends for the writer to celebrate excess and work from a point of textual abundance. Students will write and write, then take on the roles of sculptor, carpenter, and architect in order to leave the class having developed a single play. Functioning as both a seminar and workshop, the course will introduce students to a variety of play forms by writers including: Aleshea Harris, Reza Abdoh, Guillermo Calderón, Tim Crouch, Sophie Treadwell. We will use these plays to build a toolkit of generative strategies and address writing as a physical task that seeks a three-dimensional home.
  12. 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.
  13. This class can be taken for credit in either LAS or THAD. 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 THAD-C221; Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  14. In 1831, Mary Wollstonecaft Shelley "bid [her] hideous progeny go forth and prosper." The resulting creation -- Frankenstein -- inaugurated a long-standing fascination with the possibilities of monstrous, manufactured life. At the same time, ghosts have long provided ways for imagining the missing body made real again, the flesh re-manufactured using the tools of memory and desire, while cyborgs present the possibility of fusing past and present, human and machine, past and future. Our inquiry this semester will focus on the tropes of monster, ghost, and cyborg, by looking at the ways in which they have shaped, and been shaped by the cultural dreams from the 19th Century on.
  15. 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 museums, labs, archives, 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 all over the planet. In the process, they encountered (and often ignored or stole from) the complex folk biology of various indigenous 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, an evolution this course will actively examine through reading, conversation, and practice. As such, our course materials will range from classical antiquity to the present and cover a large variety of written forms and artistic mediums.
  16. The Aethiopica by Heliodorus of Emesa is the most ambitious novel to survive from the Ancient Greek world. We study the novel and its afterlife from Byzantium to the eve of the Harlem Renaissance. The tale of two lovers and their adventures from Greece to Ethiopia, it had a massive influence on the development of the novel, especially discourses of exoticism, utopianism, and Orientalism. Special attention is devoted to issues of race and gender, and readings include Byzantine literary criticism, excerpts from Early Modern novels, and one of the most important African-American works of the early 20th century, Pauline Hopkins's Of One Blood-in which a secret African civilization makes Wakanda look ordinary in comparison. Requirements include participation in class discussion and four short papers.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. In "The Wretched of the Earth" (1961), Frantz Fanon writes, "The relations of man with matter, with the world outside, and with history are in the colonial period simply relations with food." Fanon recognizes that for the colonized subject existence itself is so threatened that every bit of food one can gain access to is, as he writes, "a victory felt as a triumph for life." The foods people choose to eat and the ways they prepare those foods speak volumes about their relationship to the land and reflect their history. Postcolonial storytellers, writers, and filmmakers use food and foodways as markers of independence, as symbols of cultural colonization, and as signs of continued deprivations. Through foodways one can glimpse famines, invasions, and historical access to trade networks, and food itself can even serve as a vehicle for communication. Since these stories are not constructed in a vacuum, they also can reveal something about what food means in specific historical moments, in specific places, and for specific populations. This course will look at the roles food and foodways play in a series of narratives from formerly colonized spaces. Writers we will read may include Chris Abani, Bessie Head, Tsitsi Dangarembga, and Ken Saro-Wiwa.
  20. 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 (if possible) attendance at a local theatrical production.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. What is political about theatre and performance and when does politics become theatrical? What are some of the assumptions and desires that animate the relationship between theatre, performance, and politics? How has this relationship been practiced, understood and theorized over time, and most importantly, in contemporary circumstances? What relationship does political theatre have with the local, the national and the transnational? This course seeks to approach these questions through readings that may include works by Sophocles, Brecht, Heaney, Boal, Friel, Churchill, Edgar, Tendulkar, Soyinka, Fusco, Deavere Smith, Pinter and Nottage along with relevant theoretical texts. Screenings might include videos related to recent US presidential elections, musical and artistic performances, and acts of contemporary culture jamming activists like "The Yes Men."
  24. 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.