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.