Reading, Writing, and Teaching (ENGL-120)
Students, as part of the work of the course, each week will tutor or lead discussions among a small group of students at Holyoke High School. The readings for the course will be essays, poems, autobiographies, and stories in which education and teaching figure centrally. Among these will be materials that focus directly on Holyoke and on one or another of the ethnic groups which have shaped its history. Students will write weekly and variously: critical essays, journal entries, ethnographies, etc. Readings for the course will include works by Sylvia Ashton-Warner, James Baldwin, Judith Ortiz Cofer, John Dewey, Jonathan Kozol, Herbert Kohl, Sarah Lightfoot, John Stuart Mill, Abraham Rodriguez, Esmeralda Santiago, and Patricia Williams. Two class meetings per week plus an additional workshop hour and a weekly morning teaching assistantship to be scheduled in Holyoke.
Emily Dickinson (ENGL-355)
Emily Dickinson’s poetry is rich in what she called “illocality.” Her writing characteristically dissolves images and refuses all specificity of place or event, and yet no writer is more intimately connected to a single particular place. Dickinson wrote almost all of her poems within this one house on Main Street in Amherst. We will have the extraordinary opportunity to read these poems here, to study both her individual life and her practices of literary expression in the place where she lived and wrote and with access to many of the artifacts and records of family and local history. We will study Dickinson’s biography, her poetic practices, and her historical context. In exploring the social and political situation of her poetry we will pay particular attention to local materials and history. Most class meetings will be held in the Dickinson Homestead and coursework will include projects of use to the Dickinson Museum.
Regulating Citizenship (POSC-136)
This course considers a fundamental issue that faces all democratic societies: How do we decide when and whether to include or exclude individuals from the rights and privileges of citizenship? In the context of immigration policy, this is an issue of state power to control boundaries and preserve national identity. The state also exercises penal power that justifies segregating and/or denying privileges to individuals faced with criminal sanctions. Citizenship is regulated not only through the direct exercise of force by the state, but also by educational systems, social norms, and private organizations. Exclusion is also the result of poverty, disability, and discrimination based on gender, race, age, and ethnic identity. This course will describe and examine the many forms of exclusion and inclusion that occur in contemporary democracies and raise questions about the purpose and justice of these processes. We will also explore models of social change that would promote more inclusive societies.
Make it Public: Art and Social Practice (ARHA-308)
This studio course will introduce the field of Social Practice and provide an opportunity for students to develop artistic projects in the public sphere that engage with people or place. Interdisciplinary in nature, Social Practice encompasses work as diverse as interventions, utopian proposals, guerrilla architecture, project-based community practice, art and activism, collaborations, social sculpture, interactive media and street performance. Students will be assisted with and encouraged to envision their chosen discipline as a public practice, or to experiment with a new discipline and will be encouraged to collaborate with each other and with outside community groups.
Unequal Childhoods: Race, Class and Gender in the United States (AMST-265 & SOCI-265)
This class explores the ways in which race, class, gender and immigration status shape children’s lives. We begin by conceptualizing childhood as a social construct whose meaning has changed over time and that varies across context; for class privileged individuals, for example, childhood or adolescence may extend into the third decade of life, whereas for “others,” poverty and/or family responsibilities and community struggles may mean it scarcely exists at all. The bulk of the course draws from ethnographic scholarship focused on the relationship between childhood and inequality in key institutional contexts including school, family and the legal system. Through ethnography, we will critically examine the ways in which inequalities among and between groups of children shape their daily life experiences, aspirations and opportunities, and what this means for overall trends of inequality in the United States.
Documentary Production (ARHA-441 & FAMS-441)
Intended for advanced film/video production students, this course will explore creative documentary practice through readings, weekly screenings and production assignments. Each student will complete a series of projects working both as a single maker and in collaboration with other members of the class. Topics may include: shooting the interview; scripting, performance and reenactment; history and narrativity; place and space; ethnography and the “embedded” filmmaker. We will also host visiting filmmakers and, where possible, visit a cultural institution which supports and screens cutting-edge documentary work.
The course will be taught annually but will focus on a set of revolving themes and issues that inform contemporary documentary filmmaking and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The theme for fall 2016 will be “Places and Spaces.” One 3-hour class (some of which will include field shooting and research trips) and one evening screening each week.
Global Valley (AMST 111-01 & 111-02)
Drawing on a wide range of primary materials, and taking advantage of the ease of visiting the sites of many of the topics we study, this course offers an introduction to American Studies through an exploration of the Connecticut River Valley that stresses both the fascination of detailed local history and the economic, political, social, and cultural networks that tie this place to the world. Topics may include conflicts and accommodations between Native peoples and English settlers; changing uses of land and resources; seventeenth-century witchcraft trials; the American Revolution and Shays rebellion; religious revivalism of the Great Awakening; abolitionist and other nineteenth- century reform movements; tourism and the scenic including Thomas Cole's famous painting of the oxbow; immigration, industrialization and deindustrialization, especially in the cities of Holyoke and Springfield; educational institutions and innovations; the cold war, the reach of the "military industrial complex" into local educational institutions, and "the bunker"; the sanctuary movement; feminist and gay activism; present environmental, mass incarceration, and other social equity issues; and of course, Emily Dickinson's poetry.
Organic Farming: Politics and Practice (ENST-280)
What is organic farming and why does it matter? What does organic farming mean in practice and how does it compare to conventional farming? Is there a difference between organic and non-organic food crops? By delving into the politics and practice of organic farming, this course will examine these and many other questions. The structure of the class will revolve around (i) readings, response papers and discussions examining what organic farming is and why it matters in our contemporary U.S. food production landscape, and (ii) experiential learning opportunities at Book & Plow farm. Weekly readings, discussions and written responses will span four major themes, including: (1) the history of U.S. agribusiness; (2) the social and environmental dimensions of conventional farming; (3) the rise of organic farming, what it means and why it matters in relation to conventional farming; and (4) the cultural politics of food in the U.S. In addition to response papers, students will be responsible for producing group projects and presentations on the deliverable of their choosing.
Seminar in Popular Music: Popular Music and Cultural Identity (MUSI-428)
Music often serves as one of the primary ways that we create and maintain identities. Our social groups--peers, colleagues, acquaintances--are often determined by shared affinities for specific musical styles, artists, and the world views they come to represent. Yet music is also frequently used to catalyze various forms of social and political activism, challenge our relationship to society and structures of power, and initiate change. This seminar explores the nature of popular music and its relationship to culture, politics, and identity. The first part of the course surveys the discourse of popular music studies and the various trends in cultural studies that have prompted new ways of examining the relationship between popular music and social and cultural identities. We will use this theoretical landscape to analyze an array of popular music cultures in and beyond the United States. The second part of the course focuses on developing multifaceted research projects that put these theories to use. Students will be encouraged to combine ethnographic research (interviews, location-based research) with historical and critical analysis to generate a unique, personal project exploring the relationship between music and identity. Two class meetings per week.