Digital Media & Online Culture
This course will explore the impact of digital media and the World Wide Web on the ways we read, write, listen, think, and desire. We will look at how digital networks have changed our relations to all aspects of culture (newspapers, novels, films, TV, etc.).
Our goal will be to explore this vital set of historical developments AND to use this body of material to learn the academic skills that you will need for success in university and beyond. Our consistent concern will be how these new media have inflected the traditional methods and subject matter of the humanities. Among other subjects, we will study the history of computing, the Internet, and the World Wide Web; the effects of reading, writing, and thinking with digital as opposed to paper-based media; how digital technology has changed our relationship to music; why people watch TV shows on their phones; streaming, sampling, and mash-up culture; how satellites changed television; how ordinary people became producers as well as consumers of electronic media; and how all of this affects our everyday lives in 2017.
Punk Rock Subcultures
We will trace the emergence of punk against the background of ‘classic rock’, from its beginnings in the primitive garage rock bands of the mid-60s to seminal acts like the Velvet Underground, the Stooges and the New York Dolls, to the formative New York scene of the mid-late ‘70s (Patti Smith, Ramones, Talking Heads, etc) to the UK explosion (Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Damned, etc), the proliferation of independent scenes throughout the US (Akron SF, LA), the formation of ‘Hardcore’ punk (Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Black Flag, etc) and the experimental underground post-Hardcore scene of the mid-late ‘80s (Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Pixies, etc), as well as other movements inspired by the destructive/creative DIY punk ethos: New Wave, No Wave, Goth, Oi, Art Damage, New Romanticism, Grunge, Riot Grrrl, Lo-Fi, Punk Pop, Emo, Gypsy Punk, Taqwacore, etc. We’ll at various points look at punk through the lens of class/politics, religion, race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. We'll also look at the way punk has cross-pollinated with other musical forms (Folk, Blues, Jazz, Country, Metal, Hip Hop, Electronica, etc).
Ancient Origins; Secret History
In this course we’ll be examining origins of things we think we know: stories of heroes; our concept of human nature; our understanding of medicine and healing; the fundamentals of democracy; uses and abuses of war and violence; gender roles for women and men; and our concepts of faith. We’ll be looking at these topics and writing about them through the lens of ancient Greece and Rome.
We’ll be reading a discussing a variety of great texts from these two civilizations (e.g., epic poetry (Homer); Greek tragedy, Plato, Thucycides, Lucretius, Galen), and all the while we will simultaneously contemplate what we also know from our own cultures about these topics. Can we find foundations for our own attitudes in these cultures from long ago, or is the past dead and foreign to us? How can we approach these ancient thoughts as modern citizens of the world? What does it mean that we as modern humans can read and explore such ancient ideas? As we explore we will develop our skills in thinking creatively about these themes, and we’ll pay close attention to how we can write about them critically and convincingly.