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Fall 2020

  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. Analysis Of Film Narrative

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

  3. 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.

  4. Beginning Poetry Writing Workshop

    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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  5. Brown Dual-degree Course

  6. Brown University Course

  7. Cinema and New Media

    Digital technologies have shaped contemporary media and culture in profound ways, including how we make, experience, and talk about art, design, commerce, and culture, bodies, identities, and communities, privacy, security, and war, time, space, and geography, and even the politics of meaning and "truth" themselves. In this course, we will look specifically to late 20th and early 21st century cinema -- ostensibly now an "old" medium -- to help us understand (and sometimes productively misunderstand) new media. What is new media and what can cinema specifically tell us about it? What has become of cinema, both culturally and structurally, under the digital? How has cinema historically represented new or emergent media technologies? How have forms of vision and perception that have emerged or intensified alongside new media -- satellites, drones, surveillance, smart phones, etc. -- troubled cinema on formal, stylistic, and epistemological levels? What kinds of new or transformative potential has new media unearthed for future cinemas? Through readings of contemporary media studies scholarship, weekly film screenings, and student presentations, we will take up these and related questions.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  8. 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.

  9. Creative Non-fiction Workshop

    Creative Nonfiction can be tricky to define. While not journalism per se, creative nonfiction can incorporate historical facts or texts alongside a narrative of personal experience. Dating back to 16th century essayist Michel De Montaigne, and the arguable invention of the essai as a method of testing ideas, creative nonfiction is often a kind of organized thought experiment through personal experience. Joan Didion, James Baldwin, and Susan Sontag were exemplary figures in the 60s and 70s blending personal reflection with an examination of current events and contemporary issues. Today, such literary figures as Claudia Rankine, Jesmyn Ward, and Maggie Nelson carry on this tradition. At the heart of nonfiction, lies the examining mind that uses a sense of self or often lyrical "I" to investigate a larger world experience. We will be examining how our own personal sense of the daily and the ordinary can be used as a kind of crucible to think about, through, and with current events and other social and political happenings today.

    Open to sophomores and above.

  10. Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson (1830 -1886) has an undeserved reputation for being a gloomy, inscrutable, death-obsessed recluse. But, when reading her poetry, letters, herbaria, recipes, and random notes, we come to discover a more complex figure: Dickinson was a nimble-minded, inclusive thinker; a poet obsessed with songs, riddles, and linguistic puzzles; a skilled baker; a locally admired gardener; a lover of human, animal, and natural worlds; and a playful, devoted friend. In her poetry, Dickinson could invest the same vast and inimitable creative and intellectual energies into an exploration of the fate of the human soul as she could into an observation of her cat stalking a bird. Formally, stylistically, and conceptually, her poetry defied and continues to defy convention, and it went virtually unpublished during her lifetime. Her poetry is also rare in that its interpretation depends on its visual presentation. During her life, Dickinson collected and annotated her poetry in handwritten booklets (or fascicles). These fascicles open up opportunities to appreciate her work more abstractly as visual-literary art that fundamentally challenges our expectations of what makes a poem a poem. In this course, we will read, discuss, and write about the many versions of Dickinson, as seen through the various scholarly efforts to transcribe, edit, and publish her work, as well as through our own manuscript-transcription projects. We will also explore the material, historical, biographical, and critical contexts for her work, drawing from a diverse body of meticulous, creative, and rebellious Dickinson criticism. Far from a traditional literature class, this course adopts a hands-on approach to understanding Dickinson's life and work, which will include manuscript transcription projects, natural historical excursions, bread and pastry baking efforts, along with various writing assignments and exercises. The course also includes a short trip to Amherst, Massachusetts, where we will visit the Dickinson Homestead and Museum (where Emily lived and composed the vast majority of her letters and poems), spend time in the Dickinson archives at Amherst College, and explore the surrounding town and its natural environment.

    LAS-E101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  11. Environmental Comics

    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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  12. 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 semester, freshmen are pre-registered into this course.

    Please contact the department concerning any registration questions.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Material Poetics

    Like theatre and music, poetry requires presenting the body -- particularly the voice -- to the live audience. Unlike theatre and even music, it is the writer's body that is presented, not that of an actor or performer. This makes for an interesting situation: Poetry is simultaneously a consummately conceptual and material art (and the bridging can be awkward). Poetry is language's own art form but equally, it is concerned with breath, speech, tone, tempo: the discursive sonic range of the human vocal apparatus. This investment in the body transmits to the fascination poets have for technologies of writing: manuscript/print/digital; hand/machine; public/personal. Poetry, though it has a conservative function,  is definitively avant-garde and committed to articulating the new -- in terms of subject matter, form, and technology.

    This course examines poetic traditions that cherish the material properties of poetry, whether relating to the body; to book/laptop/phone (all technologies held close to the body); or to more macro or micro dimensional surfaces or instruments -- in the garden, on the billboard, cut into the land mass, or planted within the body, whether as a biosensor inside a human or in the genome of a bacterium. We will pay special attention to voice; color; text/image and sound/image relationships; the poetry of visual artists and the visual art of poets; audience; and contemporary digital opportunity. Students will engage in creative, critical, and research projects, with particular emphasis on their own languages, cultural contexts, and poetic traditions.

    Texts and references may include: Lady Su Hui's huiwen (4th Century CE), William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793), the poetry and letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 -1889),  Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons (1914), Kurt Schwitters Ur Sonata (1922-1932), The Four Horsemen (1972 to 1988), Xu Bing's Book from the Sky (1988) and Book from the Ground (2013), Kamau Brathwaite's Trench Town Rock (1994), David Batchelor's Chromophobia (2000), Johanna Drucker's The Century of Artists' Books (2004), Etel Adnan's The Arab Apocalypse (2007), Tim Ingold's Lines (2007), M. NourbeSe Philip's Zong! (2008), Jen Bervin and Martha Werner's The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems (2012), Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric (2014), Jen Bervin's Silk Poems (2017), Francesca Capone's Weaving Language: Language is Image, Paper, Code & Cloth (2018), Giorgio de Chirico/Stefania Heim's Geometry of Shadows (2019), David Jhave Johnston's ReRites (2019), Tim Robinson's Experiments on Reality (2019), Christian Bók's The Xenotext Project (ongoing), and Ian Hamilton Finlay's Little Sparta (still growing). As it tends to do with all dimensions, material poetics upsets our conventions of time.

    Open to sophomores and above.

  18. 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.

  19. Native American Literature

    Literature is one facet of culture. The significance of literature can be best understood in terms of the culture for 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.

  20. 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 LAS-E416 and ILLUS-3612 and will receive 3 studio credits and 3 liberal arts credits.

  21. Postcolonial Literatures II: Ireland, Oceania, and The Indian Subcontinent

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

  22. 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.

  23. Radical Theater: Brecht & After

    Fascism got you down? Tired of endless war? Wondering how art could possibly stand up to--let alone subvert--the predations of big-time capitalism and its police state? Unfortunately, these are not new questions. Fortunately, they have been taken on directly by some modern dramatic innovators, among the first of whom was Bertolt Brecht (Germany, 1898-1956). Playwright, director, theorist and provocateur, Brecht drew on popular, traditional forms, which he deployed in response to the crises of his times in order to rewrite the theatrical rulebook. The course will study Brecht's major works along with some of his theoretical writings before looking at the legacy of Brechtian theater among diverse playwrights such as Dario Fo & Franca Rame, David Hare, Caryl Churchill, Alecky Blythe, Tony Kushner, Lynn Nottage, Sarah Kane, Suzan-Lori Parks, Mark Ravenhill, Jeremy O. Harris.

  24. Sem: Women's Resistance Across The

    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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  25. 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.

  26. The Lesbian Novel

    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.

    LAS-E101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  27. Transnational Spy & Detective Fiction

    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.

  28. Verse Africa: Contemporary Poetry From Africa and The African Diasporas

    In this course we will critically engage the poetry and poetics of contemporary African, African American and Caribbean poets to examine the incredibly diverse aesthetic trends as well as their intersections. Students will produce both critical and creative responses to the texts we read and will have the opportunity to workshop their own poems influenced by the works we engage.

    Open to sophomores and above.

  29. Virginia Woolf & Modern Fiction

    Students will emerge from this class with a thorough overview of Woolf's life, world, and life's work. The heart of the course will be our study of Virginia Woolf's major novels: Jacob's Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, and The Waves. However, our reading list will also include short stories, essays, and selections from her published letters and diaries. In particular, students can expect to become skilled readers of the stream of consciousness style of narration that characterizes Woolf's fiction and to engage with themes that run through much of her writing such as the creative process, modern subjectivity, sexuality, gender, domestic space, and war.

    Open to sophomores and above.

  30. 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.

  31. Writing The Climate Crisis: Justice, Identity, and Environment In American Literature

    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.

    Open to sophomores and above.

Wintersession 2021

  1. Can't Be Satisfied: The Blues In American Literature

    "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 convincingly. But 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.

  2. Cradle Will Rock On

    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.

  3. Environmental Humanities Research Seminar

    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.

    For Wintersession 2021, the course will utilize both synchronous meetings and asynchronous work. Students need to obtain instructor permission to enroll in this course.

    Permission of Instructor required.

  4. 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.

  5. Major Developments In Queer Film, 1990-2018

    This course focuses on the intersectionalities of race and queer subjectivities in queer cinema. We will trace this development from the historical cinematic 1990s of New Queer Cinema (NQC), an era that encompasses an explosion of "gay film visibility," to an exploration of present day queer cinema and the ways in which queer representations and queer identities are portrayed. We will study the stylistic developments and controversies of queer film, examining major innovations and changes as compared to films from the NQC era. Such questions as what's at stake in films that contest and re-imagine new queer subjectivities will be addressed during the course.

  6. 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.

  7. Punk Productions

    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.

  8. Short Story Writing Workshop

    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.

  9. The Cookbook: The Rhetoric Of Recipes

    "The Cookbook: The Rhetoric of Recipes" is a course designed to look at the form and rhetoric of cookbooks. Cookbooks are their own distinct genre. There are rules that must be followed, though the range of possibilities are multitudinous. A cookbook entirely about bugs? Sure. A cookbook on gelatin desserts? In the 1960s there were dozens. But a cookbook ostensibly is both tantalizing and informative. It aims to make the reader want to eat the dish that it introduces, and it gives clear instruction about how to produce that dish. The course begins by looking medieval recipes, many of them found online at Cooking in the Archive. From there the course moves to looking at the culinary essays of Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de La Reynière and Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the founders of culinary writing. Then we move to MFK Fisher and James Beard, before looking at Julia Child and Jacques Pepin and the rise of the celebrity chef. In the course students will be asked to deconstruct recipes. What makes a recipe successful? The rhetoric of cookbooks is an art, just as is poetry or memoir writing. Some cookbooks are literature, others are pulp. Over the course of five weeks, students will begin to learn how to create a recipe that both instructs and entices. They will learn how personality enters a cookbook, and how something like Marcus Samuelsson's The Soul of a New Cuisine is ultimately more about the writer than the recipes. By the course's end, each student will produce their own cookbook.

  10. Theater Production Workshop

    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 2021

  1. 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.

  2. Advanced Poetry Workshop

    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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

    Permission of Instructor required.

  3. After Hollywood: Usa Cinema Of The 70's

    U.S. cinema experienced a renaissance, even a revolution, from the late 60's-the mid-70's that made it the international film influence for years to come. With the financial breakdown of the studio system, emergent filmmakers turned the Classical Hollywood Cinema methods on their heads. However, this was not a virgin rebirth or a sui generis revolution; it was an aesthetic movement based on the development of film as a university discipline, changing organization of film production, the cross-pollination of foreign film manifestos, art house screening, and the popularity of B/exploitation films. This renewal was also a direct response to the cultural experimentation of the period that was redefining the national eye/I through everything from Lava lamp décor to transactional analysis, communal living to LSD, anti-war to free love politics, youth power to Black power, and feminist daughters to anti-Oedipal sons of all races. In this course, we examine the dramas of both film history and cultural history to understand how they refracted and reinvented the Hollywood aesthetic. In addition to lifestyle readings from the period and film theory and criticism influential during the period, we will compare films from this renaissance Scorsese, Kubrick, Cassavetes, Burnett, Dash, and Germia to films from the movements and directors that influenced them, i.e., foreign a d US horror films, Hollywood auteurs; French New Wave directors, Italian Neorealist ad post-War Japanese filmmakers. Requirements include film screenings; reading film theory and criticism and popular non-fiction prose of the period; 5 analytical essays and one group presentation.

    LAS-E101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  4. 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.

  5. Contemporary Ecopoetries: North Americas+

    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.

    LAS-E101 is prerequisite for undergraduates.

  6. 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, and 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, an art form 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,,,, 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.

  7. 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 semester, freshmen are pre-registered into this course.

    Please contact the department concerning any registration questions.

  8. Introduction To Playwriting

    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.

    Open to sophomores and above.

  9. 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.

  10. Literary Art: 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.
    LAS-E101 is a prerequisite if taken for LAS credit.

  11. Losing Paradise: Inventing The World

    The focus of this course will be a reading of John Milton's Paradise Lost in the context of western narratives that combine creation myths with a philosophical exploration of human subjectivity and agency. Some ancient pre-texts considered might be the Book of Genesis, Hesiod's Works and Days and Theogony, Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound, and Lucretius's De rerum natura. The course will conclude by reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as a response to and extension of this "tradition."

  12. Natural History

    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.

  13. Of Ethiopia: A Greek Novel Of Antiquity and Its Reception From Byzantium To The Harlem Renaissance

    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.

    LAS-E101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

  14. Public Presentation

    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.

  15. 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.

  16. Sem: Global Englishes

    This seminar attempts to do two things: first, we examine the global careers of the English language and the literatures written in it from their period of ascendance during the height of British colonialism in the late-19th century to their proliferation in the postcolonial present to argue for a concept of multiple "Englishes" in place of one dominant, normative, authentic 'English';second, we explore the hypothesis that the discourse of "Global Englishes" is not just constituted in writing and literature as most scholars have argued but also through everyday performance, and often through spoken forms. So, a discussion of the cultural politics of speaking and listening across different sonic media will supplement the regular study of selected fiction, nonfiction, plays, poetry, films, television, and music. Topics discussed will include variations in the uses of literary English, translations and adaptations, varieties of spoken Englishes, accents and code-switching, multilingualism in literary texts, etc. Historical and theoretical contexts will include colonialism and postcolonialism, economic and cultural globalization, identity politics, exile and migration, literary prizes, circulation and readership, etc. Not surprisingly, most of the authors we will read are from ex-colonies of the British Empire which now have thriving English language literary and cultural traditions of their own, like India and Pakistan, Nigeria and South Africa, Canada and Australia, Ireland and the Caribbean region. Since the United Kingdom's and the United States' Englishes, even though dominant, are still part of 'the global' we will read some representative texts from Scotland or Wales, for instance, as well as "US ethnic literatures." Authors may include Rudyard Kipling, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, G V Desani, Salman Rushdie, J M Coetzee, Jean Rhys, Wole Soyinka, Michèle Lalonde, Derek Walcott, Brian Friel, Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, Mohsin Hamid, M. NourbeSe Philip, Irvine Welsh, Caroline Bergvall, and Junot Diaz. Open to sophomore and above.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  17. The Detective Novel

    The game is afoot, so it is time to rely on the little grey cells. In this course we will examine the development of the detective novel in its three primary manifestations - the private eye novel, the procedural novel, and the amateur investigation. We will start out with some classic texts from Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, and Georges Simenon, then move to contemporary texts, paying particular attention to the way the genre adapts culturally as it moves from Europe and North America into Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The final project will be a collaborative writing project that will result in the class creating its own detective novel.

  18. 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.

  19. Theater,performance,&politics

    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."

  20. 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.