Second Year

Second Year Courses:

ARTHUM 2200E / Topics in the Arts and Humanities

Fall 2023

Activist Arts: Climate Change and the Humanities

Can art and literature help us confront the urgent reality of climate change? What function might the humanities classroom serve when the terms of human life seem increasingly precarious? Can aesthetic responses to ecological emergency inspire and sustain impactful climate action? These are some of the questions that will guide our exploration of climate arts and activism. This course will survey a variety of artists and authors who frame their creative work in activist terms, variously testing the possibility that art can provoke dynamic responses to the climate crisis. Alongside our readings, we will devise “climate action projects” that undertake individual daily practices towards climate change mitigation and/or adaptation. Through critical and creative assignments, we will explore how our projects and our study of activist aesthetics inflect one another, anchoring renewed climate response in everyday life.

Winter 2024

Black Feminist Thought: Principles, Debates, Social Transformation
With a view of ‘theory as liberatory practice’, Black feminist thought has re-shaped knowledge production across a number of academic disciplines, intellectual traditions, and social justice movements. Black feminist thought foregrounds innovative approaches towards social transformation, with an emphasis on intersectionality and visionary pragmatism. This course introduces students to the foundational principles, debates, and concepts in Black feminist thought in the African diaspora. It asks: How does Black feminism engage knowledges across disciplines? How is it located in the Black intellectual tradition? What preoccupies Black feminist scholar-activists at this historical moment? And what kinds of futures do Black feminists imagine and strive for?  We will explore these questions as they are addressed in different disciplines (e.g., philosophy, gender and sexuality, critical race and disability studies, sociology, political science, and anthropology); and we will apply Black feminist theory to deepen our understanding of contemporary issues and social problems in local and global contexts (e.g., #MeToo; #BlackLivesMatter; climate change; UN Sustainable Development Goals).

Prerequisite: 75% or higher in AH 1020E 3 hours/week, 1.0 course 

ARTHUM 2230G - Digital Tools, Digital Literacies

What are the implications of “the digital turn,” and what does it mean to pursue “literacy” in an era of seemingly endless information? This course examines the development of information systems and technologies by considering their past, present, and potential future trajectories. We also explore how we shape (and are shaped by) these technologies with research-based and hands-on activities. Course materials will survey how digital researchers and historians, web and software developers, artists, authors, activists, and theorists engage our digital landscapes—posing critical questions of social, political, economic, and creative significance. We will discuss the discipline of the Digital Humanities and evaluate the impacts/effectiveness of digital tools on our Arts & Humanities research: engaging critically with social media and blogging platforms; navigating search engines, databases, and a range of digital archives; using text mining and analytics software to explore and express large amounts of data; bibliography and citation tools; introductory website design and creation (coding, HTML, CSS, Javascript, JQuery, navigation, metadata). The real-time shaping of our lives in the present COVID situation (both in digital space and away from keyboard) will doubtless inform our conversations, reading, and projects. 

Prerequisite: 75% or higher in AH 1020E. 3 lecture hours, 0.5 course

ARTHUM 2240F – Foundations of Theory in the Arts and Humanities

This survey of literary theory and criticism introduces students to some of the most important genealogies of cultural, aesthetic, and political thought since antiquity. By developing tools to analyze the ineffable “products” of culture—such as race, desire, power, fantasy, and ideology—theory helps us navigate our cultural landscape. To that end, we will explore psychoanalysis, structuralism, postcolonial criticism, black studies, queer theory, and other theoretical movements that have transformed how we interpret the world. Throughout the course, we will remain mindful of how urgent questions of race, gender, class, and geopolitics are not to be treated separately from theory and criticism, but are instead embedded in aesthetic, cultural, and social thought from the outset. In other words, rather than treating movements like feminism or postcolonial criticism as though they exist in a vacuum, we will consider how race, gender, class, etc. have always informed theory.

Prerequisite: 75% or higher in AH 1020E. 3 lecture hours, 0.5 course