Creative Communities

Fall 2020 Creative Communities Courses

  • Art, Design, and Change (CCCX 210)

    Section 01
    Taught by: Mel Potter (Art and Art History)

    In this course, students will explore concepts of community engagement within the practices of art and design. The class will examine how individuals and institutions collaborate to employ creative practices that address social justice. Students will learn skills, strategies and principles of social practice to build toward successful reciprocal engagements with community groups. Through a series of site visits, case studies and interviews, students will investigate the aesthetics, structure and practice of artists, performers and designers who seek to affect social change. Strategies for fundraising, assessment, research and reflection will be considered within the context of Chicago-specific projects.

  • Chicago Performs (CCCX 211)

    Section 01: The Art of Drag
    Taught by: Kelly Schmader (Business and Entrepreneurship)

    In the Art of Drag, students will explore the artform of drag and gender performance as it pertains to community building, nightlife, and performance art. Students will analyze the role of drag in Columbia College Chicago, in Chicago itself, and in its current status as a global phenomenon. Texts include queer theory on drag as performance from scholars such as Judith Butler, ethnographies of drag such as Mother Camp by Esther Newton, and films such as Paris is Burning. Students will develop a contextual understanding of drag and its history in 20th century queer history and performance, as well as contemporary Chicago drag and the issues facing the artform today. The course will help establish student relationships with current working drag performers in Chicago, drag nights and venues, and help students identify areas where the community could be uplifted and supported. Students will be able to choose among options for a final group project which include creating a unique drag performance, researching the history of a particular project or point in time in Chicago drag, or developing a new way for drag to interact with the Columbia College Chicago community.

    Section 02: Theatre Through Our Lens
    Taught by: Jermaine Hill (Theatre)

    Section 03: Theatre Through Our Lens
    Taught by: Justin Brill (Theatre)

    This course will introduce students to the diverse and ever-changing topography of the Chicago theatre community, including the role of theatre-making at Columbia College Chicago. Texts will include excerpts from critical works on performance practice, mission statements of representative theatre companies, scenes from plays drawn from the respective seasons of Chicago theatre companies we will visit, and scenes from the Mainstage season at Columbia College Chicago. From this course, students will be able to articulate many of the creative practices of and pressing issues facing theatrical production in Chicago (and the national theatre community) writ large. Moreover, by engaging with the Columbia community and Chicago theatre companies and practitioners, students will be provided opportunities to generate their own theatrical content and formulate their own theatrical aesthetic in ways that may contribute to theatre-making and critique in Chicago and beyond. Students will develop a final project that will demonstrate their ability to create and/or foster interdisciplinary, socially engaged theatrical performances.

  • Fashion Ethics and Aesthetics (CCCX 212)

    Section 01
    Taught by: Lauren Downing Peters (Fashion Studies)

    This interdisciplinary course engages the city of Chicago as a site for investigating the ethics and aesthetics of contemporary fashion. Building on the foundational experience of the first semester Big Chicago courses (and specifically, "Chicago Fashion Tribes"), this course frames fashion as one of the most polluting and exploitative global industries as well as a creative medium through which designers can challenge inequality and further environmental and social justice initiatives. In thinking broadly about the ethics of fashion, this course takes a deep dive into tough topics such as environmental sustainability, fast fashion, sweatshop labor and style piracy, and will introduce students to local groups who are using the medium of fashion to effect meaningful change in Chicago and beyond. Through site visits, participant observation, craft-based workshops and community partnerships, students will be challenged to develop an understanding of the place they occupy in the fashion system, to devise actionable solutions to the myriad problems plaguing the industry, and to hone their creative and critical voices as future leaders in the fashion industry.

  • Listening to the City (CCCX 213)

    Section 01
    Taught by: Jesse Seay (Audio Arts and Acoustics)

    Section 02
    Taught by: Philip Seward (Music)

    Section 03
    Taught by: Ted Hardin (Cinema and Television Arts) 

    This course explores communities connected through sound. Such communities form through networks both local and virtual, coalescing around shared interests in particular genres and venues, roles and expertise, economies and missions. Through reading, deep listening, discussion, and construction of sonic artifacts, students will engage with foundational theories of auditory culture while they encounter the city through sound.

  • People, Power, and Narrative (CCCX 215)

    Section 01: Gender, Power, Romantic Comedy
    Taught by: Deborah Holdstein (English and Creative Writing)

    “Power, Gender, Romantic Comedy” closely examines a history of romantic comedy in film (not the history), analyzing—as indicated by the title—power relationships, conventions of genre, social class, gender, storytelling, and the like. Each week, students will read brief chapters or articles that will be provided to help us examine, discuss, challenge, and write about films that conform to and occasionally “stretch” the expectations of this particular and still-highly popular genre. Why has this cinematic genre been so popular for over ninety years? How might we challenge and analyze—and yet still appreciate—the politics and power relationships evident in most films that seem to conform to the genre? How does analysis of individual, sometimes (but not always) predictable narratives and characters within these films reveal assumptions about gender and the power relationships that merit constructive challenge? How has the romantic comedy evolved—if it has—and for what reasons? Have power dynamics changed?  Remained static? Why? Additionally, we will consider how we might and can define “communities of purpose” and “communities of interest” related to the political and power relationships in these films.  How do these films—for good or ill—reflect or defy community and social expectations and contexts, respective to their time(s)? Once we determine what, if any, are the “communities of interest,” how have these community “interests” changed—or not? Do underlying interests, particularly economic ones, remain the same? Why or why not?

    Section 02: Unsettling Chicago
    Taught by: C. Richard King (Humanities, History, and Social Sciences)

    Unsettling Chicago concerns itself with the place of imagined Indians in Chicago and the distinct representational practices and cultural politics that have made such renderings pleasurable, profitable, and powerful. Place names and origins stories, museum installations and world’s fairs, collective memory and commercial brands, as well as sports mascots and public art will be examined. Readings and discussion seek not simply to catalog a set of stereotypes but encourage a deeper understanding of the construction and circulation of such representations and a fuller appreciation of the cultural, historical, and political forces shaping the uses and understandings of Indianness. Throughout, attention will be directed at the shifting contours of race, power, and identity as well as the persistence and fecundity of core ideas about indigenous peoples.

    Section 03: Unsung Heroines
    Taught by: Gabriela Diaz de Sabates (Humanities, History, and Social Sciences)

    In this course students will learn about the wide range of women’s life stories in the Chicago metropolitan area and beyond, establishing connections between the local and the global. Women’s life stories are of importance because they invent, reform, and refashion personal and collective identity. By taking this course, students will learn about the narrative nature of life experiences by exploring the process of knowing about, listening, and telling of life stories. This class uses an intersectional approach, which takes into consideration markers of identity such as gender, sexual identity, class, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, etc. Throughout the class, students will be exposed to communities of interest, practice and/or purpose that Chicago women inhabit, create, and participate in, while exploring the relationships among their stories embedded within creative ecosystems, discussing issues of advocacy and the advancement for gender equity and social change. It is important to note that, in this class, the term “woman" is not understood as a concept based on essentialist and narrow notions rooted in biology, but rather as one that is inclusive of all persons who identify as women, in the broadest sense.

    Sections 04 and 05: The Bronzeville Writers
    Taught by: Jeanne Petrolle (English and Creative Writing)

    The Chicago Black Renaissance--an upsurge of artistic, commercial, and political productivity in the late 1910s and 20s, was focused in Bronzeville, a vibrant neighborhood on Chicago’s SouthSide named for the beautiful bronze-like color of dark skin. Writers like Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and Margaret Walker strolled South Parkway Avenue—now called Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard--taking inspiration from the place and people of this neighborhood. Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, Eddie Condon, and Louis Armstrong played the Savoy Ballroom, at South Parkway and 47th. Near the Savoy, the architecturally ornate Regal Theater provided black artists and audiences a magnificent venue for cinema and stage performance. Black journalists founded The Chicago Whip and the Chicago Defender newspapers to serve and celebrate the black community. Black modernist painter Archibald Motley, who graduated from the School of the Art Institute in the 1910s, captured the vitality of jazz-era Bronzeville on canvas. As the Renaissance blossomed into the 1930s and 40s, W.E.B.Dubois commented that Chicago had produced a “different kind of Youth,” meaning that the Bronzeville writers, who emerged from the South Side Writers Group, had produced a new, distinctively black “aesthetic consciousness.” In this course, while practicing the power of creative community ourselves, we will learn the history of Chicago’s Black Renaissance and explore the distinctively black aesthetic consciousness of the Bronzeville writers

    Section 06: Untold West Side Stories
    Taught by: Suzanne McBride (Communication)

    In this course, students will learn about the wide range of life stories on Chicago's West Side. The stories of the residents who live in this predominantly African American area are of importance because they often are told by others who lack the knowledge or understanding that would allow for more accurate and contextual depictions. By taking this course, students will learn about the narrative nature of life experiences by exploring the process of knowing about, listening to, and the telling of life stories. Throughout the course, students will be exposed to communities of interest, practice, and/or purpose that residents of Chicago's West Side inhabit, create, and participate in while exploring the relationship among their stories embedded within creative ecosystems; discussing issues of advocacy; and the advancement for racial equity and social change. As collaborative work is an essential component of this class, students will work in groups to discuss practices and contents and to develop their group final presentations 

    Section 07: American Prisons
    Instructor: Teresa Prados-Torreira (Humanities, History, and Social Sciences)

    This class will examine why and how the United States relies on mass detention as a strategy to impose order, and how the current judicial system has relegated millions of poor people to a second-class status. Why is the U.S. one of the most punitive countries in the world? Who gets punished? What are the lives of incarcerated people like? Ultimately, we will explore the question: Can we imagine an alternative to the current system? Students will draw on their own interests and skills to investigate and understand global and local issues through the lens of mass incarceration. They will be exposed to and connect with Chicago creative communities engaged in developing new solutions to address this social problem.

  • Social Objects (CCCX 214)

    Sections 01 and 02: The Material World of Childhood
    Taught by: Marni Nissan Olmstead (Humanities, History, and Social Sciences)

    Sections 03 and 04: The Material World of Childhood
    Taught by: Katie Paciga (Humanities, History, and Social Sciences)

    What comes to mind when you think about your childhood? Is it your favorite park? Family pet(s)? Bike rides? A toy? A game? A book or story? Objects mediated everything you did when you were a child. Your first connection with your caregiver involved feeding objects. Your communications with your best friends in middle school likely involved handwritten notes or text messages. Your learning experiences in classrooms were mediated by the desk where you sat. The hours you spent after school were likely mediated by objects you used to fill that time. Material objects, including but not limited to: decorative art, clothing, gifts, utilitarian items, religious icons, modes of transportation, digital "things," and communication devices, always provide the physical context for human social engagements. Current theories about the material world of childhood will help students examine case studies about the manufacture, the trade, and the use of objects designed for and used in childhood from several different world areas. Students will develop broader understandings of the ways objects enable and facilitate interactions with and around children.

    Sections 05 and 06: Tabletop Games and Communities
    Taught by: Brendan Riley (English and Creative Writing)

    “I’ve got two stone. Who has some sheep to spare?” “Will you take St. James place for Marvin Gardens?” “My dexterity check succeeds. I stab the orc in the eye.” “I call.” Human beings have been playing games for a very, very long time. From the ancient games of SENET and UR to party games like Cards Against Humanity, we gather around tables to have fun with our friends, and to meet new ones. In this course, you will explore the vibrant world of tabletop games and game communities. You will: play games from a variety of genres and types, read and apply critical theory to explore how games work and how they’re designed, interact with game com- munities (both in Chicago and around the world), and begin designing your own game.

    Section 07: Artist Letters and Mail Art
    Taught by: Ames Hawkins (English and Creative Writing)

    What inspires artists and poets to write letters to each other? How does letter writing inform creative practices and enhance collaboration? Each week, we will read specific artist exchanges and mail art. Through these examples we will explore some of the purposes and affordances of letter writing as they have been connected with and to the creative ecologies of artists, writers, and poets. You will engage in weekly letter-writing activities and connect with and to creative communities in and beyond our class. Overall, the class invites you to explore how you might apply these principles in your own creative work. 

  • Topics in Creative Communities (CCCX 299)

    Section 01: Troubled Waters
    Taught by: Dave Dolak (Science and Mathematics)

    Sections 02 and 03: Troubled Waters
    Taught by: Beth Davis-Berg (Science and Mathematics)

    In this course students explore the importance of water resources to various communities and ecosystems in Chicago, a city that was founded because of water and whose natural waterways were altered to build a great metropolis. They examine how this process displaced the original inhabitants, altered ecosystems, displaced wildlife, and how access to water for recreation and consumption without effective and egalitarian policy-making can affect some communities unequally, create and perpetuate inequality. Students investigate the nature of water as a finite resource and how changing demographics, politics, and climate uncertainty may challenge existing narratives of water abundance, scarcity, access, and quality for various communities in and around Chicagoland. In a final project, they envision how responsible stewardship of the shoreline or the river could provide more communities with access to Chicago’s waterways and water resources. 

    Section 04: Joyfulness and Well-Being
    Taught by: Susan Imus (Dance) 

    Section 05: Joyfulness and Well-Being
    Taught by: Jessica Young (Dance) 

    What makes you joyful? What prevents you from experiencing joyfulness? How is joyfulness related to your well-being? This course examines how experiences of joy and well-being are culturally situated, and how such states can be cultivated through physical, mental, social, and spiritual practices. Furthermore, students will engage their creative interests in arts, media, and communication as a means of informing these practices. Through engagement with community resources at Columbia and the wider Chicago area as well as critical analysis of introductory readings and viewings in joy, pleasure, resilience, and the body/mind/spirit relationship, students will expand upon and strengthen their self-care practices to optimize their bio-psyho-social-spiritual well-being.

  • Write-in-Place (CCCX 216)

    Section 01: Imaginary Literary Communities
    Taught by: Joe Meno (English and Creative Writing)

    Chicago has one of the most diverse, thriving literary communities in the country. From stalwart small press publishers, live lit readings, independent bookstores, literary organizations, to a host of arts weeklies and websites that support the written and spoken word, the city offers emerging and established writers the opportunity to engage as part of a wide-ranging national and international literary conversation. Using the city as both a text and a classroom, students in this CCCX-200 level class will explore some of Chicago’s most essential literary communities through a series of site-specific trips, guest visits, performances, and writing assignments. The final project for the class will be the development and creation of a personal zine that captures the student's relationship to a specific community in Chicago.

    Section 02: Poetic Lines of Chicago
    Taught by: TBD

    Centered in body-based writing, artist collaborations, audio recording and mapping everyday stories, this course enables students to participate in local creative ecosystems centered on art forms experiment with poetics in and across a range of written texts. Students will investigate and engage with creative alliances across the city of Chicago and gain experience using art for social change.

CCCX 200: Learning Outcomes

Although individual courses have course-specific learning outcomes associated with understanding Columbia College Chicago’s urban setting, all of the courses share the same expectations for the student learning experience. In the Creative Communities course, students will: