The Common Curriculum

Scholars Research Seminar 2016

Winter/Spring 2016

  • Art and Politics | Professor Lorraine Cox

    The relationship between art and politics has a long and rich history. Focusing mainly on 20th-21st century America, the course will explore the theoretical underpinnings which structure both the thinking and practice of art of social and political conscience. We will broadly consider the ‘meaning’ of political art in modern and post-modern discourse, the relationship of politics to the creative process and the democratic potential of protest art. Some of the topics to be covered include feminism and AIDS; visual technologies of persuasion from abolition broadsides to WWII recruitment posters; monuments and memory from the Vietnam War Memorial to Oklahoma City; and public murals painted in Mexico City and Los Angeles.

  • The Green Life | Professor Kara Doyle

    Which is more important – maintaining the environment or growing the economy? Should we preserve natural resources or aim for energy independence? Is hydrofracking a good or a bad thing? Should we choose to be frugal consumers or green consumers? The answer in each case, of course, is “both” – but the balance between them often proves elusive. In this course, you will acquire and hone research skills, analytical thinking skills, and communication skills (both written and oral) as you pursue a 15-to-20 page research project about an environmental issue of your own choosing. We will take as our starting point recent and current debates about environmental concerns, and examine the arguments being made on opposing sides of the arena. We will closely examine the way both sides use and present scientific and other evidence to support their economic and environmental claims, looking at them both as bad and good models, and discuss how to move past “either/or” thinking into the complexity of real world scenarios. You will learn how to track down sources of information, beginning with footnotes and bibliographies and expanding outwards to databases, indexes, and even – gasp! – books. Along the way you will develop an interest in a particular environmental problem, which will become the springboard for your project. In the second half of the course, after having narrowed your initial idea down to a manageable size, you will work intensively on your own project, researching it thoroughly in order to present a possible solution.

  • Import/Export/Convergence | Professor Timothy Olsen

    Selected texts will examine three related topics: globalization and America's appetite for cheap foreign imports; one of America's most important exports-the blockbuster movie; and the convergence of traditional and new media in our ever-shrinking, information-overloaded world. The reading consists of four books of general, non-expert interest: Pietra Rivoli, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy; Mark Harris, Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood; Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide; Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.

  • The Idea of Performance | Professor Patricia Wareh

    What is performance? We know that it is something done by actors on a stage and politicians on a platform, but how might it also be part of the fabric of day-to-day life? Do common social interactions also involve playing a role? What does performance have to do with the expression of gender? This course will offer you new ways of thinking about theatrical performance as well as the personas that are involved in a wide range of social interactions. The class will collaborate on two primary source studies (As You Like It in Performance and A Doll’s House in Performance), learning the tools for analyzing performance as well as considering how these two plays also raise important questions about performance in everyday life. At the same time, we will explore how to insert our own voices into conversations about these plays as we read critical discussions of them and performance in general from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We will also make sure to see at least one live performance as a class. [This will be tailored to the current local theater/performance options.] You will then pursue research projects of your own design connected to the idea of performance.