Many scholars have regarded the 21st century to be watershed era for inclusiveness on Broadway. This course examines a chronology of such representation on "The Great White Way," including titles from current and/or Broadway seasons such as "Falsettos" and "Hamilton." This course will offer students the opportunity to watch both live and archived performances of musicals past and present, as well as read, verbally deconstruct, and even perform excerpts from these shows with the goal of practicing rational, respectful, and empathetic difficult dialogues/critical conversations.
America At Work
GNED 140 James Quirk TF 4:05 - 5:20pm
From farm to factory to fiber optics, the meaning of "work" has been central to the American experience. Shifting to industrial and then to post-industrial eras raises questions not just about business and economics, but about forces transforming society and the individual's place in it. We'll approach America at Work from a range of perspectives. We'll use scholarly work as well as excerpts from film, theatre, and literature, and even from HBO's The Wire. Your responses will include some usual written University-level approaches, as well as more personal assignments like an interview and a photo essay, and living-learning community projects.
Act Like a Man
GNED 110 Karl Kippola W 11:20 – 2:10pm
The Performance of American Masculinities. This course examines the search for and performance of ideal models of American manhood on theatrical, political, and social stages. Through investigating gender theory and masculinity studies, reading and analyzing plays, viewing theatrical productions and films, unpacking political posturing, and scrutinizing human behavior, students explore, demystify, and question the ways in which public masculine figures manipulate, challenge, and reflect lives of American males. From the first American play to Hamilton, from the Founding Fathers to Donald Trump, the course investigates the ways in which American men learn to behave and misbehave.
Are You a Digital Citizen
GNED 130 Jill Klein W 11:20 – 2:10pm
Digital Citizenship broadly describes what it means to live in our networked world. The Internet fundamentally improves the economic and social life of anyone who gains access. But every click leaves a trace of our digital footsteps. What does this mean to us as individuals, as a community and as a global society? And what about those less fortunate, who may never experience the power of the Internet? How should we seek to engage these individuals? Our class will raise more questions than it answers but will heighten our understanding for the evolving challenges and opportunities on our digital planet.
Dying, Death, and the Afterlife
GNED 120 Martyn Oliver TF 2:30 –3:45pm
What happens when we die? Few ideas have stirred the human imagination as has the question of the end of life. Is there some life after this? What is it like? Who will be there? And most compellingly, what will happen to me? This course examines visions of the process of dying and accounts of a possible second life from Judaism to Hinduism, Dante to Milarepa, The Wings of Desire to the Book of Mormon, offering a wide-ranging examination of pathways to the celestial afterworld. Some of these visions, like the heavenly paradise of Shambala, provide reassurance about life everlasting, a reward for the righteous and downtrodden where suffering is eliminated and we bask in Cosmic Unity. Others, like Hieronymus Bosch’s The Last Judgment, imagine that all manner of perversion and evil will be punished with torture suitable to the sin. But no matter which realm we arrive in, we must all first pass through to the other side. By examining the imaginative geography of the afterlife, we learn not only about the existential fear that lingers and grows as we age, but also about how we as a species have reconciled the facts of this life with our conceptions of justice, righteousness, divine reward, and deserved punishment. In this way, the afterlife becomes a reflection of our own mortal world, exhibiting both the hubris and the terror that we carry with us as we come to terms with what it means to be human. The material for this course will range across the religious, philosophical, literary, sociological, and biological, encouraging students to examine how our conceptions of death and the afterlife reflect back to us our lived concerns, the struggle to live a life of meaning in our Dzmortal coildz and imaginatively forestall the end.
How Are Latinx Changing US
GNED 130 Salvador Vidal-Ortiz W 8:10 - 11:00am
This class adopts a less Western-centric way of framing knowledge by focusing on a U.S. ethno-racial minority group within the U.S. (The double meaning of “us” will guide our quest.) Latinx, a gender-fluid nomenclature used more frequently since 2015, is code for change, and Latinxs are shifting the economic, political, cultural, and social landscape of USAmerican society. Yet Latinx identity is marked as foreign, irrespective of the increasingly lower number of immigrants and the higher number of US born Latinxs. Latinx communities bring forth questions of nation and ethnicity, along with intersectional aspects of class, gender, sexuality, ability, and migratory/documented status to a discussion of who the U.S. is as a nation—or who is this “us” we refer to constantly. We will visit or bring in leaders of local organizations and advocacy groups, as well as national entities, to better understand the contributions and challenges of Latinxs in the U.S. We will also explore themes through movies and documentaries, and engage in an analysis of how Latinxs are portrayed in the media. Our focus in the class is discussion based, including group work, with less emphasis on individual research.
How to Create Better Worlds
GNED 110 Susan McDonic W 2:30 – 5:20pm
How does art help to advance the work of activists and how do artists enable activists to think more creatively? Social justice movements almost always use the tools of artwork to support and further their aims; this course will think about how art works - and works on us - by meeting artists and visiting activist projects. We will examine how activists have pushed the boundaries of what counts as art and who counts as an artist. Readings will cover a range of topics, disciplines, theoretical frameworks, and case studies, pushing us to question how people create art objects—visual, aural, performance, and multi-media— that have political and social effects.
How do we imagine the political structures, landscapes, challenges, and bodies of the future? This interdisciplinary course traces the visual, literary, and political implications of the way we have imagined the future through the 20th and 21st centuries. Exciting and revealing, our visions of the future reflect both our dreams and our biases, and express our desire for global collaboration, our fears of nuclear or environmental disaster, and our cultural and political aspirations and limits. Starting from science fictional dreams of the future in literature and film, our class will interrogate concepts of utopian and dystopian futurity, collective action, danger and heroism, community, nationalism, and globalization.
Obesity: A Complex Crisis
GNED 250 John Bracht MTh 8:10 - 9:25am
Obesity is a public health emergency: a majority of Americans are currently overweight and a significant fraction are likely to suffer adverse health impacts including diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and even cancer. In this course we investigate the ways lifestyle, culture, socioeconomic factors, and the food industry all interface with biology to impact body weight. We also will discuss mounting scientific evidence that obesity is, to a significant degree, inherited from our parents, and the impact this knowledge should have on our approach to the problem. We will survey both popular and scientific works relevant to the causes of the obesity epidemic, drawing connections while promoting critical analysis and discussion. This class will emphasize the multifactorial causes of obesity, through engagement with both popular and scientific literature, reinforced through student writing and feedback. Reading materials in the course will include the book “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser and “A Big Fat Crisis: The Hidden Forces Behind the Obesity Epidemic--and How We Can End It” by Deborah Cohen. Additional reading assignments will be drawn from the (nonspecialist-appropriate) scientific literature and the popular media. This course will incorporate two guest lectures: one from Dr. DeCicco-Skinner (Biology), focused on the obesity-cancer link, and one by Dr. Terry Davidson (Psychology) focused on his findings linking high-fat diets with cognitive defects. Two ‘living-learning community’ film viewings will provide supplemental engagement with the topic: “Supersize Me” and “Food, Inc.”. These films both discuss ways in which the food industry drives unhealthy eating dynamics. An overall focus of the course will be to present multiple viewpoints and levels of discourse, and to highlight the lively and engaging state of this topic in society.
Perspectives on Mental Illness
GNED 250 Laurie Stepanek W 11:20 - 2:10pm
This course explores not only the scientific basis for mental illness and treatment, but also how cultural, political, and economic forces impact mental health policy. Do patients have rights to refuse treatment? How do socio-cultural perspectives of mental illness influence treatment? How should mental illness affect culpability and sentencing in the courtroom? Students will read and respond to narratives by the mentally ill, clinical and legal case studies, scientific review articles and congressional testimony, as well as lectures by experts in the field. Students will also examine the portrayal of mental illness in film and literature.
The Art of Theft
GNED 110 Edward Helfers MTh 4:05 - 5:20pm
From William Shakespeare to Beyoncé, much of what we consider original art depends on borrowed text, recycled images, and familiar melodies. But where do we draw the line between influence and plagiarism? In this course, we consider questions of creative ownership. Drawing from scholarship by ethicists, cultural critics, and legal scholars, will analyze case studies in music, film, literature, and visual art. Working in groups, students will be asked to trace intellectual property attitudes within a chosen genre or institution (i.e. Death Metal, Persian Poetry, Pixar Films). For the final project, after meeting working artists in the D.C. area, students will compose a creative work that borrows responsibly.
The Big Short: Money and Power
GNED 140 Patricia Aufderheide W 2:30 – 5:20pm
This course on how we understood and understand the Great Recession and specifically the financial collapse of 2007-2009 will expose you to different choices in storytelling about major and complex events, and also to different disciplinary approaches to analyzing and understanding the implications of their impact.
Understanding Constructions of the Self and Other through Contemporary Technology
GNED 130 Zoe Charlton T 5:30 - 8:00pm
Establishing one’s identitie(s) is both real and invented. How one reads other’s projected identitie(s) in a multi-platform culture is complicated, not only by how people adorn themselves, but by our media choices. From avatars on social media (Instagram, YouTube, Tinder) to online simulation platforms (Open Simulator and SecondLife), and from fan conventions (Otakon, Comic Con) to festivals (Afropunk), notions of the constructed self destabilizes conventional models of the singular identity. Using an interdisciplinary and inter-media approach, Understanding Constructions of the Self and Other through Contemporary Technology introduces the ways people shape their identities across a variety of cultural perspectives. Readings and Class Discussions are central to the experience of this course.
Whose Hip Hop Cultures
GNED 130 Kendra Salois TF 4:05 - 5:20pm
Who lays claim to hip hop when its arts and cultures are shared worldwide? This course traces hip hop's movement from a transnational, Afro-diasporic South Bronx to six continents over its forty years. To understand its circulation, we also explore the racialization of United States popular musics, a history and practice of difference-making that profoundly informs the way hip hop has been and continues to be perceived in the US. Along with weekly reading and listening assignments, students will visit DC institutions, conduct research in the residence halls, and learn to make historical, cultural, and musical connections between songs.
Why Big Government
GNED 140 Gautham Rao TF 11:20 - 12:35
This interdisciplinary course explores a pressing intellectual challenge of our time: Americansambivalent historical relationship with the state. It explores how Americans from the era of Alexander Hamilton to the Age of Obama conceptualize and confront the state by demanding, protesting, prohibiting, and expanding government power over their persons and their property. The course pursues these themes through classics of social and political thought, such as the writings of James Madison, Frederick Lloyd Garrison, John Dewey, and John Maynard Keynes, alongside compelling new frameworks offered by scholars such as sociologists Monica Prasad and Andrew Abbott, journalist Ta-Nahesi Coates, and philosopher Danielle Allen. The course will also draw upon visual media, such as screenings of The Wire and Birth of a Nation, while using the social media platform of Twitter to undertake some of our inquiries in public and in real time.