Second Year Courses:
AH 2200 E / Theory and History Across the Arts and Humanities
Fall 2017 Instructor: Professor Pauline Wakeham (English and Writing Studies) Indigenous Culture (Literature & Film)
Is the idea of art, what it is and what it does, universal? Does art, aesthetics, or beauty transcend languages and cultures across the globe?
Our course begins with the premise that the answer to these questions could never be a simple, unqualified "yes". At the same time, the answer is not a thunderous, resolute "no" in the sense that art has the power to reach across cultural boundaries to impact those who engage with it. Under what conditions might such cross-cultural impact be most generative? Our course is grounded in the principle that in order to engage with Indigenous arts in transformative and respectful ways, it is vital to learn about the cultures from which those arts emerge as well as the socio-historical and political contexts to which they respond. Similarly, full appreciation of Indigenous arts requires respectful and reflexive consideration of the position of those who seek to engage with, rather than "consume", it. Such are the ethics of engagement our course seeks to both understand and put into practice.
Constrating Indigenous expressive cultures with conventional Euro-Western ideas of aesthetics, Cherokee scholar Daniel Heath Justice notes that although the European idea of "art for art's sake" once began as a "revolutionary, artistic call to arms amidst the suffocating, moralizing late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries," today, this credo is "encouraged more often as an ostenisbly high-minded stance for those privileged enough to be disaffected and disengaged" (20-21). According to Justice, Indigenous understandings of art tend to be grounded in a very different sense of purpose, that which is conveyed by Cherokee-Appalachian poet Marilou Awiakta's idea of "art for life's sake" "whereby, rather than the wholly individualist expression of an artist's singular, often self-absorbed vision, art is explicitly, generously engaged with a larger network of relations, influences and experiences, always with some measure of commitment to articulating Indigenous presence in the world" (Justice 21).
By engaging with contextual and critical readings in dialogue with Indigenous storytelling, literature, and visual and performance arts from across this part of Turtle Island (North America), our course will help us learn about the "larger network of relations, influences and experiences" to which Indigenous arts are inherently connected. In so doing, we will engage with Indigenous arts as a pathway to interacting ethically with "Indigenous presence in the world" while also considering our own presences here in London, Ontario, and the world more broadly.
Winter 2018 Instructor: Professor Kirsty Robertson (Visual Arts) Environment (Museum Exhibition)
Despite its relatively recent invention, plastics are rooted in “deep time.” A single-use plastic takeout container, for example, has a lifespan that stretches back to the primordial past of the fossil record: many plastics are byproducts of fossil fuel refinement. Because they do not biodegrade, plastics also stretch forward into a multi-thousand-years future before they will break down into their component molecular parts. Given this, plastics are increasingly known as “future fossils.” Because plastic waste accumulates in ever increasing quantities on land, in the water, and even in the air, the current convenience of plastic rests on its inconvenience to the future generations who will be tasked with cleaning it up. Yet in the present moment, plastics are so ubiquitous that daily life is near impossible without them. Plastic microfibers are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. This dystopia contrasts with the way that plastics contribute enormously to contemporary life: many medical, agricultural, and social innovations would be impossible without them. This course traces plastic as a key Anthropocenic artefact – a contradictorily helpful substance and environmentally destructive force. Resulting in an exhibition and museum dedicated to future fossils, this class will explore conceptual, artistic, environmental, social, and political understandings of plastics from humanities and scientific perspectives, ranging from the celebratory to the dystopian.
Prerequisite: 75% or higher in AH 1020E 3 hours/week, 1.0 course
AH 2220F – Effective Communication in the Arts and Humanities
Fall 2018 Instructor: Professor Michael Arntfield (English and Writing Studies) Writing (Rhetoric/Journalism/Crime Writing)
This course will introduce students to a broad range of communication strategies and methodologies and will generally optimize the interdisciplinary purview of the arts and humanities through the analysis of literary fiction, film and television, legal and forensic documents, and both political and advertising rhetoric. In helping prepare students for advanced scholarship and research, specific careers in communications and other humanities-related fields, and for becoming responsible and informed global citizens, the assignments in this course are all designed to cultivate new interests while building on existing strengths.
Students can expect to participate in class discussion and debate, to make oral presentations, to study rhetoric and logic, and to critically examine and effectively describe multimedia materials with the view to understanding the elements of style unique to specific document types. In all cases, students will work collaboratively on different kinds of projects, including textual analysis.
Prerequisite: 75% or higher in AH 1020E 3 lecture hours, 1.0 course
AH 2230G - Digital Tools, Digital Literacies
Winter 2018 Instructor: Professor Mark McDayter (English and Writing Studies) Digital Humanities & Archives
General description: This course examines the evolution of information systems and the impact of digital technologies on research in the Arts and Humanities through a hands-on examination of databases, search engines, and online archives; text mining and analysis tools; visualization, bibliography and citation software; social media, blogging, and website design and creation.
Detailed description: The advent of new technologies and online resources has revolutionized how scholars conduct and communicate research. The sheer amount of information increases exponentially each year, while new tools emerge to access, search, sift, analyze, and communicate this data. How can we best find useful research information, and how do we distinguish “information” from “data”? What kind of analysis can digital tools provide, and what can they not do? How is research communicated in a world still split between traditional print methodologies and novel digital communications tools? How can we best employ research information and the technology that enables it? How can we ensure it is not controlling us?
This course examines information systems and technologies past and present. It pays particular attention to digital tools that facilitate research, within the context of a historical understanding of how information systems have evolved, and their impact upon our understanding. The course’s main focus is a hands-on examination of databases, search engines, online archives, text mining and analysis tools; visualization, bibliography and citation software; social media, blogging, and web site creation and design. Students are encouraged to consider the implications of “the digital turn”: What is inside the literal and metaphorical “black boxes” that house and circulate our cultural knowledge, and how do circuit and code, hardware and software, impact how we learn, think, and communicate?
Prerequisite: 75% or higher in AH 1020E 3 lecture hours, 1.0 course