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Amelie E. Hastie (Section 01)
We are surrounded by things that mean something–the objects we place by our bedsides, the pictures we tack on our walls, the books and DVDs we set on our shelves, even the foods we keep in our cupboards. To the unwitting passerby, these things might mean differently or they might appear to mean nothing at all. But in fact we know that, in the space of a house or a dorm room, a subculture, or a nation, things matter. Objects tell stories; images reveal histories; favorite television shows represent tastes; movies incite emotions. Through readings in literature, poetry, autobiography, and philosophy and through screenings of films and television, this seminar will explore the meaning of things in our everyday lives. How do things matter? What do they mean? And how do we describe the ineffable quality of stuff?
This course will encourage attentive reading and viewing practices, so that our discussion-based meetings will allow us to dwell on the details of what we see. Students will compose frequent short writing assignments, trying out a range of approaches, including the autobiographical, interpretive, historical, and essayistic. And we will learn how to write about a variety of “objects”: knick-knacks, consumer products, food, photographs, films, poetry, and novels.
Fall semester. Professor Hastie.