The Art of Musical Invective: Criticism and Innovation in Popular MusicCourse taught by: James Miley
Have you ever read a scathing critique of an artist you admire? Did that criticism affect your perception of or loyalty to that artist or even to an entire style/genre of music? This class will explore the impact of criticism, both positive and negative, on innovation and risk-taking in popular music in America and abroad. Our study includes an overview of popular and jazz music history, substantial reading and in-depth discussion of important musical criticism of the past 100 years, and detailed examinations of various eras and specific artists--particularly those embroiled in controversy both in and out of the recording studio. In addition to reading and parsing the writing of professional music critics, students will be responsible for writing their own positive and negative profiles (a la respected music journals such as Rolling Stone and Down Beat) of contemporary musical artists and gauging the potential impact of music critics on the trajectory of popular musical expression. Knowledge of music theory is not required.
Andries P. Fourie
The Arts and Identity in South AfricaCourse taught by: Andries P. Fourie
By looking at the arts of South Africa in socio-historical context, we will examine the role of art, film and music in the creation of contemporary South African identity. From 1948 to 1994, South Africa was ruled by a repressive white minority government that instituted and enforced a policy of apartheid or racial segregation. The black majority resisted apartheid with every means at their disposal, and the arts played an important role in the liberation struggle. After the end of apartheid, the arts were instrumental in the construction of a new, shared South African identity, and functioned as an agent of reconciliation. In South Africa, the arts are both a cultural identity marker and a unifying force that transcends the barriers of specific ethnic identities. South Africans today use culture as both a weapon in the struggle for equality and an instrument of forgiveness. The nature and function of the arts changed as the country itself was transformed from a battleground to a vibrant melting pot. The course examines musical genres that range from mbaqanga to boeremusiek, and kwaito to karoo blues. It examines the work of visual artists like William Kentridge, Willie Bester and Zwelethu Mthetwa, and filmmakers like Darrel Roodt and Ntshavenu Wa Luruli.
Asia in OregonCourse taught by: Cecily McCaffrey
Who am I and where do I belong? These questions are foundational to our identity as individuals and to our formation of community. This colloquium explores the experiences of people of Asian heritage (broadly defined) who have called Oregon home and examines Asian influences on the land and culture of the state. We will closely examine the connections we make between place and identity by considering the Japanese American community in Hood River, OR; the Chinatowns of Portland, OR; and the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, OR. We will engage a broad range of material, including memoirs (Big Little Man by Alex Tizon) and urban history (Sweet Cakes, Long Journey by Marie Rose Wong), but will focus in particular on first-hand sources and experiential learning, combining work in local archives with field trips to obtain a better sense of the ways in which Oregon reflects Asian heritage.
Joyce V. Millen
The Biopolitics of "Safe"Course taught by: Joyce V. Millen
We all enjoy feeling safe. But what does ‘safe’ mean when we consider the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil upon which we grow crops, the food we consume, and the products we use on our bodies and in our homes? What constitutes ‘safe’ regarding levels of contaminants and toxins permitted in our air, water, soil, food, personal care products and household cleansers? Who determines what is permissible and upon what criteria are safety standards based? What tradeoffs are being made in the calculus to determine safety limits, for example, between promoting economic growth and protecting community health and wellbeing? Why are risks of toxic exposure distributed unevenly in society, so that some groups are considerably less safe than others? How do U.S. safety regulations compare with standards established in other countries, and what might this comparison reveal? In this colloquium we will use interdisciplinary, cross-national analysis to explore the social construction of ‘safe’ as a biopolitical process. We will read works of scholars such as Michel Foucault and David Harvey and screen contemporary films that bring new insights to the core principles and competing aims of environmental health—the discipline and the social movement. Together we will conduct a mini environmental health research project in the local community.
Boundaries and DelineationsCourse taught by: Rick Watkins
Human beings have a strong instinct to divide and categorize the world around them. However, the lines and categories that we create are often artificial; rather than reflecting something intrinsic about nature they instead reveal things about who we are and how our brains operate. For scientists, categorizing nature can be a first step toward understanding, but can also hold back progress by blinding us to differences that our categories don't acknowledge. In society, labels can help us feel a part of a community but can also lead to racism and even genocide. In this course we will critically examine several fundamental questions related to the delineation of the natural world and of society, including: Do species exist? Are social insects defined by their role in a colony, or can they exhibit individuality? Can everyone be classified as being male or female? Why have some groups of humans considered other groups to be less than human? Readings will be drawn from a variety of popular science writings, such as David Livingstone Smith’s Less Than Human, and novels, such as Mat Johnson’s Pym, and E.O. Wilson’s Ant Hill.
Wendy Petersen Boring
Cascadia: Critical Pasts, Critical FuturesCourse taught by: Wendy Petersen BoringCourse taught by: David Gutterman
What do a secessionist movement with white supremacist followers, an ecotopian vision of an equitable and sustainable future, indigenous resistance to resource extractivism, and a geographic territory stretching from British Columbia to Northern California along the watershed of the Pacific Crest have in common? The pressures of climate change, the inequity of distribution of resources, and alienation from national and state government drive a yearning to re-imagine our collective future. This paired and team-taught colloquiumwill bring historical and political approaches to bear on the natural landscape, society, and culture of the Pacific Northwest. We will examine the longing for new beginnings, for separation, for self-creation -- and the perhaps illusory hope that such endeavors can avoid replicating some of the problems it is trying to escape. Our texts will include such works as: Ernst Callenbach's Ecotopia; David James Duncan's My Story as Told By Water; Sherman Alexie's The Toughest Indian in the World; the poetry of Barry Lopez, and William Stafford; and the work of current Willamette senior Martha Sonata on the people and environmental future of the Hood River valley. Through field trips and project-based learning students will be asked to imagine, analyze, and develop innovative solutions to today's most pressing problems in our bioregion, Cascadia.
Chinese Folklore and IdentityCourse taught by: Juwen Zhang
This colloquium focuses on the role of folklore in the making and remaking of personal, group, ethnic, and national identities of the Chinese in and outside of China. By looking at Chinese folklore practices such as ethnic humor, proverbs, tattoos, fashions, foodways, music, arts, festivals, and rituals, we will explore some of the multiple ways to better understand the everyday practices of a different culture. We will be asking not only ‘what’ and ‘why’ or ‘how’ questions but also ‘so what’ questions. The course includes films, such as Yellow Earth, Eat Drink Man Woman, and Chan is Missing, fieldtrips, guest speakers, individual and group projects, as well as regular discussions and debates on the readings.
K. Fritz Ruehr
Comic Books and Graphic NovelsCourse taught by: K. Fritz Ruehr
What are the distinctive aesthetic and communicative possibilities and challenges shared by comic books? They have been a mainstay of American popular culture since the 1930s. Their blend of graphics and writing makes for a compelling mixed medium in which artists can entertain, tell stories, and convey deeper ideas. But despite the unique formal and expressive possibilities of comic books, they have long been relegated to kids' rooms. Historically, comic books have also struggled against censorship and the stigma that they promoted juvenile delinquency. In recent years, comics have begun to be respected for their artistic possibilities, and fans and scholars alike are now taking a fresh look at the medium. In this class we will read and discuss influential comic books, past and present, and also examine academic treatments of comics from a number of different perspectives, including semiotics, politics, and aesthetics. Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics will be our main textbook.
Cool as a ConstructCourse taught by: Emma Coddington
We recognize it on sight, but what composes our personalized concept of Cool? Cool used to be a private attitude, yet Cool now shapes the media, business plans, and political campaigns. This colloquium will examine Cool questions: What is Cool? What are the origins of Cool? Can we find evidence of Cool before the word evolved to the current definition in the 1930’s? Is this an American phenomenon or broader? What are the cultural and generational tells of Cool? Throughout our exploration of this attitude we will see how much perception comes into play. To understand how perception contributes to our sense of Cool we will also investigate the neurobiology of decision-making, child development, and learning and memory. To help us navigate such broad concepts we will read and discuss Pattern Recognition, Distinction by Pierre Bourdieu, Anatomy of an Attitude, and The Neurobiology of Decision Making. We will use contemporary documentaries such as ‘Tough Guise’ and ‘The Merchants of Cool’ to help understand how cultural paradigms and consumerism might be changing the current definitions of Cool. Throughout our conversations our overarching goal is to understand the cultural, personal, and biological underpinnings of Cool and how such an attitude has come to carry such gravitas in contemporary society.
Critical Conversations Through the ArtsCourse taught by: Marva Duerksen
How can 'the arts' support meaningful conversations about hot-button issues of gender/sexuality, race/ethnicity, and religious expression? How might they simultaneously explore tensions between freedom of expression and “reasonable” societal censorship of such expression, between notions of 'high' and 'low' art and their conflicting purposes, and between expanding our perceptions relevant to such issues and simultaneously limiting them? Using a variety of art forms—plays, slam poetry, videos, visual collage, and music—and a selection of germinal theoretical writings, we will debate such questions and create and perform artworks that express central components of those debates. Artists and theorists examined include Plato, George Lakoff, Virginia Woolf, Sarah Jones, Saul Williams, and Big Poppa E.
Decisions, DecisionsCourse taught by: Kathryn Nyman
Life is full of small and big decisions: from what brand of toothpaste to buy, to whom to vote for, to where to go to college, to how to Iive ethically. It is also full of people trying to persuade us to buy their brand, elect their party, choose their school, and follow their path to the afterlife. So, how do we make such decisions? And what influences us to make up or change our mind? In this colloquium, we will examine some competing theories of decision-making. Even as we strive to be rational, we are prone to some predictable irrationalities that range from dogmatism and impulsivity, to indecisiveness and procrastination. Furthermore, as consumers, voters, and jurors we are sometimes swayed by advertising, rhetoric, and persuasion. We will consider what is meant by rationality, why we become entrenched in our beliefs, and how and why we change our minds. Ultimately, we will explore ways to make better decisions, that involve learning how to keep an open mind while also knowing when and how to commit oneself. Our course materials will include Dan Arielys’ Predictably Irrational, films such as 12 Angry Men, journal articles, and the occasional guest speaker.
The Devil's Echo: Prison Narratives and the U.S. Penal SystemCourse taught by: Scott Nadelson
For most of us, the image of life in prison has been shaped not by experience but by popular media and literature. From Escape from Alcatraz to John Cheever’s Falconer to Orange Is the New Black, our cultural production for decades has included stories about the world behind high walls and barbed wire, and our understanding of the country’s incarcerated population is influenced by the stories we’ve read or witnessed on screen. In this colloquium we will examine how narrative shapes our perception of lives that play out beyond our view, and how different kinds of storytelling—from memoir, to narrative poetry, to fiction, to film and television—communicate ideas about crime and punishment, about guilt and redemption, and about race, class, gender, and sexuality in the context of correctional institutions.
Dogs: Understanding Our Best FriendsCourse taught by: Sue Koger
In this colloquium, we will explore the distinctive relationship between humans and their dogs. We will discuss empirical work on the history of dog evolution and domestication, as well as present conceptions of dog temperament, social behavior, perception, and emotion. Consideration will be given to common anthropomorphisms, such as loyalty and guilt, and whether they're validated by scholarly findings. Our materials will include scholarly studies, documentaries, as well as fictional representations in selected novels such as A Dog's Life, and The Art of Racing in the Rain. We'll ponder such questions as, How similar to dogs are we humans? What can we learn from our dogs? What do our dogs think of us?
Exploring Mind, Brain, and Behavior through Science FictionCourse taught by: Jeremy Miller
When asked to consider the relationship between science fiction and psychology, Isaac Asimov wrote that “In science fiction, human beings are pictured as facing unusual situations, bizarre societies, unorthodox problems. The effort to imagine the human response to such things may cast light into the shadows in a new way, allowing us to see what had not been clear before.” This course will follow Asimov’s suggestion by exploring the intersection between science fiction and the science of mind, brain, and behavior. Broadly, we will explore the ways in which popular works of contemporary and classic science fiction can help us to understand human behavior and its causes. Along the way, we will look at examples of science fiction across media: from novels like “A Scanner Darkly” by Phillip K. Dick, to movies like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, to episodes of TV shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “Futurama”. In each case, we will examine a work of science fiction that poses an important question about human behavior (for example, “How would society change in a world with no genders?”). We will then discuss modern scientific approaches to answering these questions and attempt to integrate knowledge gained from science fiction’s speculative treatment of the question with a scientific approach to examining mind, brain and behavior.
Fat!: The science, culture, and politics of weightCourse taught by: Frann Michel
Scientists, journalists, and government officials have been telling us that we face an "obesity epidemic" and must fight a "war on obesity," but others have questioned the empirical and ideological underpinnings of these claims. This colloquium takes the perspective of the growing field of fat studies—an approach that asks us to suspend the dominant culture's often reflexive and moralistic negative judgments about fat. How do we know obesity is a problem? Whose problem is obesity? Does your neighborhood make you fat? Does eating (too much) make you fat? Does farm policy make you fat? Will fresh, local, organic food make you thin? What's capitalism got to do with it? We will explore scientific research that looks beyond the simple "calories-in-calories-out" model of weight regulation, and we will scrutinize the presumed links between weight and health. We will critique popular cultural representations of fat people, and will attend to problems of size discrimination as well as to movements for fat acceptance and health at any size. We will consider the intersection of gender, class, and race in the socioeconomics of weight and weightism; the role of the food industry and the diet industry; and the impacts of capitalism, geography, and government policy.
Games: Design, Strategy, Philosophy, and SocietyCourse taught by: Josh Laison
Games are everywhere in the world and pervasive in our lives. Just as we see games in so many different forms in the world, we can think and talk about games through many different academic lenses. From a mathematical standpoint, game designers balance complex interconnected systems of abstract rules, and players use probability and decision theory to plan a successful strategy. From an artistic standpoint, artists design beautiful and immersive graphical worlds, and players narrate stories and act out the characters who live in these worlds. From a philosophical standpoint, designers make their games to be fun, and the need for play is fundamental to our lives. From a societal standpoint, gaming societies reflect many problems that we see in the real world, and also give us tools to solve them. In this course we'll play and analyze complex designs like Agricola and Race for the Galaxy; mathematically strategic games like Backgammon and Hex; storytelling games like Ribbon Drive and But Wait, There's More; world-building games like League of Legends and Minecraft; social games like Two Rooms and a Boom and Space Team; games for change like Fold It and Superbetter. We'll design our own games, and think about what makes a good game, and why we should play them.
Generations at Risk: You Are the FutureCourse taught by: Barbara Stebbins-Boaz
As with every living creature, human beings grow, develop, and change within an environment that is constantly shaping us. In our case, we are steeped in hidden chemicals that support contemporary lifestyles. Over 80,000 man-made chemicals in use have never been tested for their effects on our health. In this colloquium we will focus on those chemicals that mimic the hormones that are essential to development, fertility, immune function, and cognitive development. Questions that we will address include: How do researchers discover these chemicals? What benefits or risks do they present? How do we know what is safe and what is harmful? What roles do industry, government, communities and the individual play in causing chemical exposures? What actions can we take to promote environmental health in sustainable ways? We will approach these questions from many perspectives: ethical, economic, behavioral, spiritual, biological, sociological, psychological, political, and the unique experiences you bring to the course. Our sources will include works such as Carson’s Silent Spring, and Colborn, Dumanoski, & Myers’ Our stolen future, as well as documentaries such as Men In Danger: Environmental Effects on Fertility. We will also take a field trip or two to local organic and nonorganic forms to better appreciate how pesticides are used.
Genres of the SelfCourse taught by: Leslie Dunlap
We live in an autobiographical age: constantly representing—and reinventing--ourselves as we update our status, announce major life transitions, capture (and delete) quotidian moments and issue commentary on news and relationships. This colloquium explores how contemporary modes of self-narration and discovery resemble and depart from earlier genres of the self. Have social media changed our understanding of the self in relation to society? How do new technologies shape our sense of our place in the world, our relationships to others, and our perception of time and change? In order to address these questions, we will read coming-of-age diaries, novels, films, and memoirs from a range of periods and places--including such texts as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, The Diary of Anne Frank, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and films including Flirting (Australia, 1991), We Live in Public (US, 2009),Girlhood(France, 2014) and the Oscar-winning Boyhood (US, 2014)--together with scholarship on identity formation, the public sphere, modernization, and globalization.
Cathleen L. Whiting
Income Inequality, Poverty, and a little EconomicsCourse taught by: Cathleen L. Whiting
The extent of U.S. income inequality has become part of public discourse. “The 1% May Be Richer Than You Think,” proclaimed a 2014 Bloomberg News headline. Piketty’s 700-page Capital in the Twenty-first Century was a best-seller on Amazon. The topic is highly controversial. Are the rich the “fittest” in a social Darwinian sense? Are the poor “takers,” as a former Presidential candidate suggested, or do hard-working individuals, for reasons outside their control, lack access to jobs paying a living wage? Does a social safety net encourage laziness or help sustain people until they can get on their feet? This colloquium explores arguments and evidence surrounding U.S. income inequality and the related topic of poverty, and considers the question of appropriate public policy. Students will be introduced to relevant data sources and measures, and asked to use this information to evaluate the “free-market” economic model and its prescriptions regarding the role of government. Class projects will give students experience obtaining and using data to assess a public policy proposal.
Mary R. Bachvarova
The Journey to the Self: Narrative and the HeroCourse taught by: Mary R. Bachvarova
The modern Western novel, an extended prose narrative telling of a hero's often life-changing experience, has its roots in the Mesopotamian epic of "Gilgamesh", first recorded on clay tablets ca. 2100 BC. The figure of Gilgamesh, a historically attested Sumerian king who chose friendship over family, who failed in his quest to achieve physical immortality but left behind one of the most enduring monuments to man's search for the meaning of life in the face of inconsolable grief, was a major influence on Homer as he composed the story of Odysseus. And, Homer's Odyssey, considered by many to be the "first novel" of Western civilization, has proved to be a formative influence on Western literature. We will explore how the development of the familiar literary form of the novel over the course of millennia was a product of man's developing sense of self, his/her changing understanding of his relationship to the divine and his/her desire to understand the purpose of life, through these two "proto-novels" and a series of key works such as Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment and Hermann Hesse's Rosshalde.
Journey to the WestCourse taught by: Xijuan Zhou
Journey to the West, also translated as The Monkey, is one of the masterpieces of Chinese literature. It is a story based on the journey of a famous Chinese monk named Xuanzang who traveled to India to seek Buddhist scriptures in the 7th century C.E. The novel combines elements of Chinese folk religion with Taoist and Buddhist philosophies and Confucian social values. It not only portrays adventurous fantasies but also reveals spiritual insight and serves as an allegory of the religious journey. In this colloquium, we will examine Chinese religions and folk beliefs through close reading and discussion of this classic text. Some of the questions we will discuss include: How does one interpret a text? What are the key factors in cultural integrations? What challenges does one face in one's spiritual journey? Class activities will also include writing exercises, short research reports, and class presentations, involving materials such as religious scriptures, films, and historical documents.
Know ThyselfCourse taught by: Sammy Basu
Know Thyself! This ancient Greek injunction is most famously associated with Socrates who regarded it as central to the practice of philosophy. Thereafter, it has occupied humanity from ancient philosophy to contemporary neuroscience. So, what does it mean to know one’s self today? What does it mean to have innocence, awareness, integrity? In this course, we will explore various theories, concepts, and distinctions regarding reasoning, intuitions, and emotions in our reading of two very different fictional representations of the complexity of self-knowledge and decision-making: C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters (1942), which purports to be letters from a Senior Demon to his nephew, a Junior Tempter, who is trying to lure a human being towards evil, and Don Dellilo’s White Noise (1984), a caustic portrayal of the anxieties and mysteries that infuse everyday life in an apocalyptic contemporary America.
The Livable CityCourse taught by: Karen Arabas
By the time you are in your 30s chances are high that you, along with 6 billion of your fellow human beings, will be urban dwellers. How can we make our cities livable in the face of urban sprawl, environmental stress, and socio-economic disparities favoring suburbia? How does the way our communities are designed and built impact our physical and mental health, our ability to ensure that the most vulnerable among us can meet their daily needs, our success in finding meaningful employment and adequate housing, and our capacity to build positive relationships with our neighbors? What do the Forbes, Huffington Post, and other livable cities indices really measure? Using Salem as a case study, we will explore the meaning of urban livability, investigate the factors that contribute to a livable city, and debate how to create livable communities. As a class, we will engage with local agencies in service learning partnerships to support their efforts to make Salem more livable.
Brandi Row Lazzarini, Ph.D.
Longevity Across the GlobeCourse taught by: Brandi Row
The United States currently ranks 50th in life expectancy in the world. Why is that? What factors support longevity in humans? How do these factors differ around the world and within the United States? We will examine differences between nations that include global health issues, biological, genetic, and social factors, cultural and lifestyle factors involving nutrition, physical activity, spirituality, geography, concepts of work and leisure, and health care policy. We will consult a range of sources including statements from international organizations on health and aging, books, original research articles, news articles and other news media, personal interviews, and documentary films. In a service-learning component of the course, we will engage with local agencies involved in wellness across the lifespan, to learn about and contribute to their mission.
'No Justice, No Peace!:' Constructing and Contesting Social ProblemsCourse taught by: Janet Lorenzen
We will begin this course with the question, how do issues – from texting & driving to economic inequality – become defined as social problems? Who decides and how are they persuaded? We will explore claims about current social problems in the form of popular bumper stickers ('No Farmers, No Food'), social movement slogans ('I am the 99%'), and political commentary (are the wealthy 'job creators' or tax evaders?). Academic work on framing political ideas, recruitment to social movements, and the social construction of social problems will guide our analysis. This includes an investigation into the way data are used (or misused) to support particular claims. Visits from a political lobbyist, a union organizer, and a social movement activist will help us better understand how persuasion works in the real world. Topics include current controversies in the United States like economic inequality, racism, climate change, the gender wage gap, immigration, marriage protection/equality, and gun rights/control. In the last third of the course students will develop a campaign to address a social problem and create their own bumper stickers (which will be produced for distribution) and public service announcement (posted on You Tube).
Melissa Buis Michaux
The Punishment SystemCourse taught by: Melissa Buis Michaux
Despite having a reputation as the “land of the free,” the United States currently incarcerates about 2.4 million men, women and children. Snapshot statistics like this one, however, do not capture the churn in jails, prisons and detention centers; nearly 12 million people cycle through local jails every year alone. The 2.4 million number also does not take into account how many people’s lives are affected by our extensive system of punishment, including those on parole or probation; children of incarcerated parents; and communities that support prison systems. Furthermore, racial disparities in arrests, sentencing, and prison time call into question our guarantees of equal justice and fundamental fairness. This colloquium explores three critical questions about the American punishment system: Why is the prison population so high? What are the consequences of such a vast system of control? What reforms, if any, should we pursue?
Reading the Book of NatureCourse taught by: Monique Bourque
The modernization of Western science since the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century has emphasized accurate observation and the collection of verifiable data. However, the history of nature study abounds with illustrations and metaphors that reflect prior imagination and categorization, such as Albrecht Dürer's 15th c. engraving of a rhinoceros that appears to be wearing armor, and 20th c. entomologists' descriptions of ants as both the 'perfect socialists' and as vicious and violent 'slave societies'. In this colloquium, we will examine how our expectations about the natural world literally shape what we see when we look at nature. We will use a wide range of primary sources including accounts of European expeditions to the New World, Renaissance and early modern anatomical atlases and medical texts, nineteenth- and twentieth-century field guides, accounts of North American explorations of the continent’s interior after the Louisiana Purchase, twentieth century nature documentaries and more, to explore the complex relationship between our understanding of nature, our passion for arranging nature into categories, and our representation of nature. We will ask, why is narrative so central to the practice of science, and how and why do ‘factual’ narratives reflect our social and political assumptions? How do our schemas and our technologies affect our actual perception and experience? How do assumptions about human organization impact our appreciation for order and function in nature and vice versa?
The (R)evolution of Almodóvar’s Films: Art, Sex, and TransgressionCourse taught by: Maria Blanco-Arnejo
The films of Spanish contemporary director Pedro Almodóvar represent a landscape of Spanish modern history and popular culture. Through the study of several of his movies, we will discuss his personal development from a bold, unpolished director, to a sophisticated master of filmmaking. We will concentrate on three constants of his films: art, sex, and transgression. How is his particular conception of art understood by the audience? Is Almodóvar reacting to social and political pressures? Is the constant presence of uninhibited sex in his movies a means of expression, or liberation? Does Almodóvar use transgression as an instrument to shock people, or as a way to reach out and engage the audience?
Rousseau's Controversial LegacyCourse taught by: Gaetano DeLeonibus
Well into our times, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) remains a complex and controversial figure. In this course, we will explore some of these controversies, beginning with contemporaries of Rousseau who found a great inconsistency between his philosophical and autobiographical selves. For instance, Voltaire anonymously questioned his sincerity by revealing that he had abandoned the five children he had with his servant, while Mary Wollstonecraft decried his denial to women of the same basic rights claimed for men—a critique still echoed in contemporary feminist criticism. We will then explore views of Rousseau that emerged after his death, when he was seen as a champion of individualism, at the nexus of Revolution and Romanticism, by both counter-revolutionaries and radicals. Hippolyte Taine went further and wrote that Rousseau’s collectivism led inevitably to tyranny and despotism, only to be superseded by Cold War liberal scholars, such as Karl Popper, who claimed that his thinking contained the seed of totalitarianism. Finally, the history of modern educational theory is a series of footnotes to Rousseau. We will explore Rousseau’s continued influence on the pedagogical practice of his near contemporaries Pestalozzi and Mme de Genlis, and on later pedagogues, such as Maria Montessori and John Dewey.
Salvador Dali's SurrealismCourse taught by: Abigail Susik
Who was this famous Spanish master of the 20th century, and why does his art remain so influential and compelling? Our sessions will explore the changing faces (mustaches) of Salvador Dali and the complex themes of his often challenging artwork. These inquiries will also drive us to question the nature of Surrealism as an art movement and to comprehend its fascination with the unconscious mind, sexual desire, and revolutionary cultures.
Sexuality and Eroticism in Medieval EuropeCourse taught by: Ana Montero
This seminar will provide an overview of the subjects of sexuality and eroticism in a historic period, the so-called Dark Ages, during which such subjects were prominently expressed in the arts. Adopting an anthropological and historical point of view, we will study sexuality and eroticism as represented in medieval art, literature, architecture, and philosophy, as well as in the private histories of everyday people in medieval Western Europe. Specifically, we will re-examine some of the traditional binary oppositions that modern perspectives impose on the medieval world, such as the sacred and profane, platonic love versus carnal desire, the ideal of beauty and stereotypes of ugliness or monstrosity, and chastity versus lust. Far from being obsolete, these dichotomies continue to have relevance in contemporary culture, especially when issues of censorship and the obscene arise. Ultimately, the aim of the course is to compel us to re-evaluate the stereotypes we hold about the Middle Ages.
That Damn'd Thing Called HonourCourse taught by: Jonathan Cole
When conflict arises, there are those who willingly lay down their lives in the name of honor. What is it that separates those who suffer and die for an honorable cause from the rest of us? This colloquium will examine the concept of honor and how it has historically been defined both in eastern and western cultures. The concepts of budo and the warrior's way will be contrasted with notions of chivalry and the gentleman's code of honor. These ideas will then be extended to investigate questions of who, in our age of technological warfare, will stand to fight and what they will fight for. We will examine relevant texts ranging from The Book of Five Rings and The Code of the Samurai to Gentlemen’s Blood and That Damn’d Thing Called Honour. Students will also explore these concepts in application by experimenting with the basics of swordplay and dueling practices in eastern and western martial cultures.
Catherine A. Collins
Visual Stories of Who We Are: Salem as a Memory BoxCourse taught by: Catherine A. Collins
The campus, the city, the Willamette valley are a memory box of people, and events offering a visual record of who we are, what we have done, and what we value. The course examines monuments, architecture, formal spaces and informal, even temporary, markers of memory whether of achievement, grief, or historical record. We will study historic buildings and memorials, roadside shrines and cemeteries, public art, gardens, and war memorials. These visual stories of who we are celebrate, mourn and record institutions, people and events that mark Salem as place. We explore how memorialization makes space sacred. Visual memory records that we will study may affirm official narratives or offer evidence of a disputed past. By choosing what will be remembered in these ways – whether highly personal or easily forgettable and formulaic – we shape future understandings of who we are, even as we have been shaped.
Donald H. Negri
“Whiskey’s for Drinkin’, Water’s for Fightin’”Course taught by: Donald H. Negri
Water is a vital resource for human life and welfare. Not only does water provide fluid for human consumption, it is a primary source of production in food, energy, wildlife and fish habitat, recreation, transportation, and environmental quality. But in the western United States water is scarce. Whereas rainfall in the eastern U.S. is relatively abundant, much of the West is arid, and drought conditions only exacerbate its scarcity. Historically, water scarcity and the tremendous population expansion in the West have led to intense competition for and conflict over water. Those who control water and its distribution also wield extraordinary wealth and power. Drawing on historical accounts, the water crisis in the Klamath Basin, films and documentaries, this colloquium will examine the impact of water in the development of the American West. Among the topics we will explore are the importance of water to Native-American cultures in the Northwest, legal institutions that govern water use, the construction of dams and conveyance facilities on western rivers to augment water supply, the use of water in agriculture, and obstacles to water conservation.
Zen and the Arts in AmericaCourse taught by: Sally Markowitz
Since the middle of the twentieth century, a significant number of American visual artists, musicians, and writers have turned to Zen and other Buddhist philosophies to transform their art and lives. What are the sources, significance, and effects of this attraction? And what resonances are there between Buddhist perspectives on life and contemporary Western perspectives on art and aesthetic experience? This colloquium will address these and related questions through exploring the lives and work of several twentieth- and twenty-first century American artists strongly influenced by Buddhism (including, among others, John Cage, Agnes Martin, George Saunders and Ruth Ozeki) along with the texts and practices that inspired them.