Pop & Protest
Despite frequent calls to simply "shut up and sing," popular artists have always been vital catalysts for change. This course investigates the roles and responsibilities for musicians within popular culture, giving particular attention to their engagement with social and political movements. How have groundbreaking songs and performances influenced and inspired their historical contexts? A larger goal relating to the first year experience lies in a dialogue regarding how modern American society "sees" each other. What defines our identity and how in turn do we identify others? How do discussions and disputes over race, class, and prejudice present a challenge for living an examined life? Do social constructs exist that influence our impressions and decisions? Through an examination of creative works we will explore and challenge the values of modern society as well as our own.
Discovery of Expressive Self
Using tools of the actor’s preparation, students will awaken their observational skills and creativity in order to better connect with themselves and world around them. Students will explore the body and voice as primary communicators of personal narrative and uncover their own habits, beliefs, and bias through written and experiential exercises, reading and witnessing stories and performances, and engaging in discussion and collaboration. A special focus will be spent on individual and partner scene work that aims to deeply consider the lives of others.
Making Something from Nothing
Materiality is an important aspect of contemporary art. Thinking about the quality and character of materials and substances has deep implications for our selves and the way we choose to build the world around us. Often taken for granted, the choice of material is an essential component to creating content in a work of art. When artists intentionally use materials because they are not conventional, they are often exercising a critical position, sometimes rejecting or reframing the status quo.
By studying the artist's use of material and process, we will see how ideas of place, the environment, and the construction of identity as it relates to history, politics, race, gender, and sexuality are associated with the very textures of found objects, discards, and other ephemeral matter.
Writing in the Half-Known World
We'll approach the writing process as a journey through what the writer Robert Boswell calls the "half-known world" — an approach in which the writer invites the unknown into the writing process, where, through revision, the written work teaches the writer what it "wants" to be about.
You'll have the opportunity to creatively and critically write in a variety of genres, from fiction to nonfiction. We'll read a wide variety of nonfiction and fiction (from realism to magical realism, from memoir to critical essay) from a variety of American and international writers.
Along the way we'll investigate the fertile crossroads of thinking "critically" and thinking "creatively" — we'll debate the critical elements of creative writing and the creative elements of critical writing. If a difference exists between thinking critically and thinking creatively, what is this difference? What can the creative/critical writing process teach us about the world we live in — and about ourselves?