Course Listings

Click here for FIRST-YEAR COURSES.

The following course descriptions are for fall 2019 and spring 2020. Check your STUINFO account for enrollment details. Incoming students will enroll during their New Student Orientation (NSO) during summer 2019.

If you have any additional questions about course details, contact Niki Rudolph at niki@msu.edu.

  • Fall 2019

    RCAH 111: Writing Transcultural Contexts

    Section 001 (Yoder) | M W 8:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.
    Nature, Culture, and Writing
    What is nature and how is it related to culture? Is it something independent of humans, that part of the world untouched by human cultures? Or, is nature itself culturally constructed? When we turn to writings about nature—from reflective personal essays and poetry, to science writing, to essays about controversial environmental issues—to untangle these questions, we come to understand that how and what we write about nature tells us as much about ourselves and our cultures as it does about nature itself. In this course we look at writing about nature in multiple forms and from multiple cultural perspectives to explore these questions and to develop writing skills. 

    Section 002 (Sheridan) | TU TH 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    Transculturation in Michigan
    In Charles Baxter’s award-winning short story, “The Disappeared,” a Swedish engineer takes a business trip to Detroit.  Seeking adventure, he begins to wander around the city.  He soon realizes, however, that he is not fully equipped to understand the people and sights he encounters.  Michigan is the setting for many stories of this kind — stories that involve cross-cultural encounters and interactions.  In this section of RCAH 111, we’ll examine Michigan stories that take place in the cities and small towns around us.  We’ll let these stories teach us about the challenges and opportunities that emerge when different cultural groups come into contact.  We’ll seek out a variety of ways to report our findings, from analytical essays to digital videos.

    Section 003 (Monberg) | TU TH 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Communities in Motion: Im/migration, Memory, and Identity
    This course explores different reasons people are displaced and otherwise prompted to leave their homelands and remake a life elsewhere. We will consider how displaced and diasporic people use writing (in different forms and media) to explore questions of memory and identity for themselves and their descendants. Readings will examine how common understandings of home, family, nation, and community are expressed and reformed by im/migrants, refugees, and others in the diaspora, focusing in particular on Filipinx, Korean, and Vietnamese/Hmong American writers. Writing projects will center around particular concepts, specific Asian/American historical experiences, or a particular set of texts written by Asian/American im/migrants and their descendants. Students will collaboratively practice conceiving, drafting, revising, and completing writing projects of various lengths for different audiences. Writing will also be an important tool and vehicle for thinking about the readings, preparing for class discussion, and developing your own ideas.

     

    RCAH 150: Introduction to the Arts and Humanities

    Section 001 (Bosse)        | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Section 002 (Brooks)      | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Section 003 (Thobani) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Section 004 (Yoder)       | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    What is interdisciplinary study and what does it look like in the arts and humanities? In this course we will look at chosen issues using the four broad disciplinary areas represented in RCAH – the humanities, the arts, community engagement, and language and culture – in order to see how an interdisciplinary approach works, deepens our understanding, and promotes creativity. While each section will have an instructor representing a particular area (Bosse, the arts; Brooks, community engagement; Thobani, language and culture; Yoder, the humanities), the sections will frequently meet together throughout the semester to explore common themes and expose students to each of the areas. In addition to preparing students for the type of interdisciplinary work they will do in RCAH, the course will also help them select their RCAH pathway and begin to explore career options.



    RCAH 202: The Presence of the Past

    Section 001 (Hamilton-Wray) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    African Oral Traditions and the Making of History
    Oral tradition plays a vital role in the construction and reproduction of “official histories”. However, the role of oral tradition is often not explicitly acknowledged. This course makes visible the presence and role of oral tradition in history-making, with particular focus on African diasporic oral culture found in folklore, music, proverbs, cuisine, humor, literature, and other aspects of African and African diasporic society. Through a look at multiple histories, specifically oral history, imagined history, autobiographical history, and “trans-history” (history that connects the past and the future), students address the questions: What do these multiple histories of African peoples reveal about their struggle, resistance, and liberation? How have and can these histories be employed for positive social change? How do we understand our own official histories when we take into account oral tradition?


    Section 002 (Aerni-Flessner) | TU TH 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    Global Slavery
    This class looks at how slaves in many places around the world have produced not only goods and services, but also shaped a wide range of societies. We will look at Africa, the Caribbean, North and South America, and places in the Indian Ocean to examine and compare different forms of slavery across time and space. We will be looking at how these systems of involuntary labor were similar and different—and debate what exactly qualifies to be called “slavery.” The globalized world we live in is shaped, in many ways, by the past and the present of slavery. By bringing the story into our present contexts, we will better explain why knowing the history of enslavement is important, and help you better understand why debates about monuments, reparations, and human rights continue to be contentious.

     

    RCAH 203: Transcultural Relations

    Section 001 (Hamilton-Wray) | TU TH W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 a.m.
    Transcultural Relations: Social Change Movements in Contact Zones
    Contemporary social justice movements, such as #Me Too, Black Lives Matter, and March for Our Lives, are shaping national dialogue. Throughout U.S. history, social justice movements have challenged societal and cultural conventions in activists’ quest to improve the lives of marginalized populations. What are the elements inherent in a social change movement? A great leader? A catalyzing moment? A motivated group of like-minded people? A political manifesto? And why do these movements matter to us in our everyday lives? This course takes a case study approach to exploring popular social movements and their transcultural dynamics in U.S. society. The course will require students to engage with a variety of sources, including historical readings, legal proceedings, narrative film, autobiographies, and propaganda materials.

    Section 002 (Delgado, V.) | Arranged Hours
    Design for Peace

    In this course, RCAH and Engineering students will engage in the critical study of interdisciplinary, transcultural, multi-lingual and global engagement, design and peace engineering. An embedded education abroad experience, this course of study is capped with travel to visit community partners at LIFE Monteverde in Costa Rica to implement and/or celebrate the design work from the previous semester and to reflect on their learning, engagement and implications for future work. This is the second course in a two-semester sequence. Participation in the first course is preferred but not mandatory. Prior approval by the instructor is required.

    More information at: https://rcah.msu.edu/uniquely-rcah/education-away/community-engaged-design-costa-rica.html

    RCAH 215: Introduction to Arts

    Section 001 (Sheridan) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    Advanced Media Production and Design
    This course will ask students to explore the social and aesthetic potentials of digital video and graphic design. Content is tailored to students who already have a background in one or more areas of media production. Students will generate creative and socially meaningful projects, exploring fundamental principles of design in the process. We will also investigate strategies for critiquing the work of others. This class will provide excellent preparation for anyone who wishes to work in the RCAH Language and Media Center.

    Section 002 (Delgado, G.) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    Yoga and Art: Creative Possibilities through Contemplative Practices

    In this course you will examine how artists employ contemplative practices to create art with more meaning and interconnectedness with the world. Through training in contemplative practices including yoga, meditation, and walking, you will expand and create new artistic practices. You will be introduced to creative techniques and possibilities including, but not limited to: poetry, ‘zine making, journaling, drawing, painting, and collage. Explore your personal awareness, discover how to quiet the busy mind, and learn how to allow space for creativity in everyday life. Bring your yoga mat and art supplies to class!


    Section 003 (Scales) | TU TH 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    The Music of Southern Appalachia
    Appalachian communities have a rich and deep musical tradition that has played a unique role in the musical, political, and social life of America.  In this class, students will engage with this tradition through the first hand participation in the music, performing “old-time” string band music, ballad singing, shape-note singing, and more.  We will also examine the many social functions of the music in American public life, including its influence on other contemporary musical genres (bluegrass, country, folk and protest music), its connection with American leftist politics in the 20th century, and its central role in the public imagination of “authentic” American identity.  Some background in music is recommended (but not required).

     

    RCAH 225: Introduction to Community Engagement

    Section 001 (Torrez) | TU TH 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    Creating Space for Community Work
    The RCAH curriculum underscores the importance of reciprocal education, which encourages students to engage in the co-production of knowledge with community youth partners. This course will investigate models of engagement with youth from diverse backgrounds. We will consider the complex societal issues directly impacting the lives of their young collaborators, and how we can collaboratively work through community engagement. This course will focus on ways to engage youth, the impacts of various models of engagement, and provide strategies to maintain a symbiotic and collaborative relationship. We will also discuss possible community based research models.

    Section 002 (Delgado, G.) | TU 12:40 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    The Prison Poetry ‘Zine ProjectThe goals of this course are: to investigate the history of mass incarceration in the US; to understand why art and educational programming is critical to the rehabilitation and well-being of incarcerated communities; and to gain the skills necessary to facilitate community engagement projects within marginalized populations. During weekly visits to prisons you will work side-by-side with incarcerated adults and children writing poems and creating ‘zines. You will examine the works by poets who wrote while in prison including Etheridge Knight, Jimmy Baca Santiago, Marilyn Buck, and Reginald Dwayne Betts. At the end of each prison project you’ll co-facilitate and participate in the culminating slam poetry events. 

     

    RCAH 235: Introduction to Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Thobani) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    The Language of Culture: Constructing Social Identities

    This course provides an introduction to the study of language and culture. What is culture? How is it shaped by, and how does it shape, human life? How can we study ‘culture’ given the range of cultural diversity in the world? What is the relationship between culture and the construction of race, ethnicity and gender? How can the study of language and culture help us address some of the most pressing social and political issues of our time? Drawing on both classic and contemporary texts, students will become familiar with key concepts in cultural studies, including culture, cultural relativism, social construction and ethnocentrism. We will explore these themes in both culturally specific and cross-cultural contexts.

     

    RCAH 315: Methods in Arts

    Section 001 (MacDonald) | TU TH  4:10 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    Musicalturgy: Building Musical Theatre Worlds

    In this course you’ll develop an awareness of musical theatre dramaturgy and an understanding of how we can not only participate in and enjoy performance, but how we can help to develop and engage with the worlds being created onstage. In the first part of the course you will be introduced to a range of approaches to musical theatre world-building, including adaptation, revival, and jukebox musicals. During the second part, your classes will focus on the specific tools and approaches for developing new musical theatre worlds, and you will collaborate as a dramaturge with professional writers and composers creating new musicals. Along with reading scripts, listening to songs, and watching performances, you will workshop scenes and songs and use this practical work to offer feedback to your collaborators, and prepare material to engage theatre audiences with the musicals you are studying. Students should already have an interest in watching, performing, or making theatre, and be ready to use their research skills to inform their discussions of musical theatre.

     

    RCAH 316: Topics in Arts

    Section 001 (TBD) | M W F 9:10 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
    Coming Soon!


    Section 002 (Miner) | TU TH 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
    Lake Effect: Art and Ecology in the Great Lakes Watershed
    In this topics course, students will think about the Great Lakes Basin or watershed as a cultural and ecological system that links us to our communities, as well as to the Land, the Water, and one another. Students will explore the environmental, cultural, and natural history of this place (MSU, Lansing, Michigan, North America, etc.) and respond by creating arts-based projects that may utilize risography and other low-tech printmaking techniques to create artists’ books, zines, posters, and maps, in addition to site-specific and environmental art.

     

    RCAH 326: Topics in Community Engagement

    Section 001 (Baibak) | W 12:40 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    Inside the Peckham Art Studio
    In this civic engagement course we will work with RCAH’s partners at Peckham Inc., inside the Peckham Art Studio. Peckham provides people with physical, cognitive, behavioral and socio-economic challenges, a platform to demonstrate their ability, learn new skills, participate in work and enjoy the rewards of their success. We’ll use this unique experience to explore what is “Civic Engagement”. By working alongside Peckham artists, in their studio, making art, and sharing stories, we will be fueled to reflect on how interpersonal interactions expand our own understanding of the world we live in. The class will learn “People First Language”, be exposed to social design, and engage as amateur social anthropologist practicing participatory observation. Students will assess the time we spend with our partners through creative writing and art processes.  

    Section 003 (Delgado, V.) | Arranged Hours
    Design for the Common Good

    Communities around the world are challenged by conflicts related to equity, justice, power, privilege and the common good – and by concerns about environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability. In this course, students will use remote technology and community-based design practices to engage these challenges in collaboration with MSU engineering students and community partners in Costa Rica. This is the first course in a two-semester sequence, in which students, as part of an engaged education abroad experience, will ultimately visit with the host community to implement and/or celebrate their designs. The second part of the sequence, however, is not required. 

    More information at: https://rcah.msu.edu/uniquely-rcah/education-away/community-engaged-design-costa-rica.html 

     

    RCAH 335: Methods in Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Plough) | M W 8:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.
    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research
    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research is a general survey course that builds on content covered in RCAH 235 Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Combining lecture, seminar, and fieldwork, the course introduces students to generating original data through ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, and written questionnaires. Readings include sociolinguistic studies on different world languages. Throughout the course, the advantages and disadvantages of different methods are critically examined with attention to the relationship between sociolinguistic phenomena and the selection of a particular research methodology.

     

    RCAH 336: Topics in Language and Culture

    Section 001 (TBD) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.
    Coming Soon!

    Section 002 (Torrez) | TU TH 2:40 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    Am I my Language?
    Engaging in meaningful inter/intra dialogue has never been more important than right at this moment in time. In this course, we will engage in topics relating to language loss, regeneration, and impact of language on one’s identities. We consider the educational system’s role in sociolinguistic practices and the ways in which youth have (and continue) to reclaim cultural identities through language. Additionally, we will discuss the relationship between language and power as they relate to newcomers and Indigenous communities. The guiding question for this course: Who defines the importance of a language?

    Section 003 (TBD) | M W F 12:40 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    Coming Soon!

     

    RCAH 346: Topics in Humanities

    Section 001 (Aerni-Flessner) | TU TH  2:40 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    Public Health in Africa
    How do governments keep the public safe from diseases? How did these systems arise, what role did colonialism play, and who benefits today from public health interventions? This course will explore how people understand disease, how governments work to combat disease, and how the world (through a range of multi-national actors like the UN, WHO, and private foundations and charities) react to the threat of disease outbreaks. We will look at a variety of diseases—from cholera and malaria to malnutrition and HIV/AIDS—to see how medical interventions by governments and multi-national actors have played out. The class will examine and debate the ethics of various public health interventions.

     

    RCAH 492: Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Scales) | TU TH 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    Who Owns Culture?: Cultural Property and Creativity in the Twenty-First Century

    In this course we will examine the legal, ethical, and cultural stakes related to current international conversations about intellectual property and cultural property and how these conversations will effect what Lawrence Lessig has called the “nature and future of creativity.”  In studying these issues we will ask such basic questions as:  What is the relationship between shared cultural knowledge and individual creativity?  Is it possible (or desirable) for a social group to “own” and “control” their cultural practices. Is there an inherent value for society in a “cultural commons,” and if so, how do we balance the ownership “rights” of individuals with those of larger communities?  These conversations are vital and immediate for RCAH students who are planning careers within the North American “creative economy.”  As such, the most important outcome of this course will be the development of some very real and tangible possible policy recommendations, research papers, or creative works that confront these issues in meaningful and socially helpful ways.

  • Spring 2020

    RCAH 112: Writing Research Technologies

    Section 001 (Hamilton-Wray) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    Writing Research Technologies: Daughters of the Screen and Black Women’s Film Practice
    Long before the “#Oscars So White” and “4% Challenge” campaigns, Black women artists have asserted their voices in the medium of film – creating, what some might call, a Black female gaze. What is the Black female gaze in film? This course interrogates the social, political, economic, and artistic implications of Black female-centered cinema. Students are introduced to Black Feminist Film Theory in the study of Black women’s film practice. Thus, students will draw on Black women’s literary practice and activism, and consider the politics of production, distribution, and exhibition in their investigation of Black women’s film practice. This research process course asks students to undertake an original research project that incorporates primary and secondary texts and requires them to use their newly acquired media literacy skills. Class assignments typically include oral presentations, interviews, and creative presentations.

    Section 002 (MacDonald) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Global Fan Practices:  Translation, Subtitling, Fanfiction and Fanart
    This section of RCAH 112 explores the processes by which fans of film, theatre, literature, television, and music overcome linguistic difference and geographic distance to engage with the cultural texts they love. Including but not limited to remediation, translation, and distribution, global fan practices will inspire to research and write about a multitude of cultural exchanges. As fandoms are often social, the course will investigate how communities are formed and maintained around a shared interest in a particular object of fandom or a particular nation’s popular culture, both physically and virtually. We will research the origins of fandom, considering sports and theatre celebrities of the 19th and early 20th centuries, film and television fandoms around brands such as Disney and franchises such as Star Trek, and literary fandoms around authors such as Jane Austen and characters such as Harry Potter. We will also study how digital technologies and online platforms facilitate fan practices today, considering, for example, Chinese fans who subtitle across a firewall. Students will formulate their own research projects and working with a range of printed and digital sources, they will develop their writing skills through in class writing tasks, peer review, blog posts, essays, and presentations.

    Section 003 (Aronoff) | TU  TH  10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    Our America:  Cultures of American Modernism, 1919-1930

    The focus of this section of RCAH 112 is the idea of “American culture” as it is renegotiated and reimagined in the United States in the 1920s and 30s. More accurately, we might say we are investigating shifts in “American” “culture,” since, we will discover, both of these terms – what it means to be an “American” and what it means to “have culture” – undergo crucial and complex shifts in this period. This section, then, will examine debates over “American” culture, race, national identity and art in the modernist period. Looking at various primary documents, with particular attention to the arts (modernist poetry, literature, jazz and other media), we will ask: how do these texts imagine the relationship between “race,” “nation,” and “culture”? How do these constructions engage debates over immigration, assimilation and pluralism? What is the relationship between racial and /or cultural identity and political identity (or citizenship)? What is the relationship between “culture,” art, and new modes technologies? Is industrialism and its methods the end of “culture” as “high art,” or the beginning of a new kind of “culture”? How did new forms of artistic expression (broadly speaking, “modernist” art) respond to, challenge, or incorporate these new social conditions? We will then think about how these modernist debates reverberate in contemporary, 21st Century contexts, in questions of transnational migration, national identity, cultural “ownership” and authenticity, etc. The breadth of these questions will allow for a wide variety of approaches and specific interest: like all sections of 112, we will be able to pursue the burning questions we raise by developing our skills as researchers and writers.

    Section 004 (TBD) | TU TH 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Coming Soon!

     

    RCAH 202: The Presence of the Past

    Section 001 (Plough) | M W 8:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.
    Language Globalization
    This course begins by examining the definition of “global language”, asking why and how a global language develops. The reasons for the global spread of English are explored. The different global contexts in which English is used are examined. The educational and economic effects on societies and on individuals of the varied status of World Englishes are critically reviewed, including the role of language standardization and evaluation on maintenance of global inequality.

    Section 002 (Miner) | TU TH 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    The (Visual) Presence of the Past
    As humans, we cannot escape the “presence of the past” and the way that “history” shapes our contemporary lives. In this course, we will examine the past – particularly how artists and filmmakers represent it – and investigate how looking at the past will better suit us to comprehend the present – and in turn, build a more equitable future. Throughout the semester, we will focus on three distinct modes of representing the past: 1. writing, 2. comics, and 3. documentary cinema.  In turn, we will investigate how the past remains germane in everyday activities, how artists and filmmakers represent it, and how we are individually and collectively active in constructing the past.

     

    RCAH 203: Transcultural Relations

    Section 001 (TBD) | M W 8:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.
    Coming Soon!

    Section 002 (Delgado, V.) | Arranged Hours
    Design for Peace

    In this course, RCAH and Engineering students will engage in the critical study of interdisciplinary, transcultural, multi-lingual and global engagement, design and peace engineering. An embedded education abroad experience, this course of study is capped with travel to visit community partners at LIFE Monteverde in Costa Rica to implement and/or celebrate the design work from the previous semester and to reflect on their learning, engagement and implications for future work. This is the second course in a two-semester sequence. Participation in the first course is preferred but not mandatory. Prior approval by the instructor is required.

    More information at: https://rcah.msu.edu/uniquely-rcah/education-away/costa-rica.html 

     

    RCAH 215: Introduction to Arts

    Section 001 (Baibak) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    Painting on the Edge
    If one is going to paint, why paint on a canvas? Our world holds so many forms.
    Let us explore them with acrylic paint. Paint is the great transformer! Its color and texture can alter the way we perceive the shape of a thing.  In this class, students will examine the relationships between paint and the 3-dimensional surface. We will look at artists/designers who already paint this way while developing our own painting techniques. We’ll consider how form can communicate our ideas, create metaphors, and present as visual poetic compositions.  We will be guided by real shadow and light relationships. We’ll explore objects as micro and macroscopic worlds. Let’s transform! Let’s question how we understand objects in our culture. Let’s reason “makings” value; should we create more stuff, or is it part of our evolution? These are questions that always come up for me, so maybe you’re thinking about these things too. Let’s paint on the edge without fear of falling off. No previous painting experience needed.

    Section 002 (MacDonald) | TU TH 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Introduction to Acting: From the Inside Out and the Outside In

    Using a range of warmups, theatre games, improvisation, and acting exercises, this course introduces different approaches to developing acting skills. We will study practitioners such as Stanislavski and Chekhov, and establish a toolkit for building characters, using our voices, minds, bodies, and emotions. Working as an ensemble, students will learn how to work with their own imagination and impulses, breakdown scripts, develop character psychology and physicality, and apply this to monologues and scenework in class. We will learn how to lead physical and vocal warmups, and how to undertake basic dramaturgical work as an actor. Along with analysing scripts, and developing characters, students will learn basic acting vocabulary and be able to discuss their practice, in class as well as in an oral defence of their work. We will work collaboratively and respectfully, to develop an understanding and appreciation of the craft of acting.

     

    RCAH 225: Introduction to Community Engagement

    Section 001 (Monberg) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    Introduction to Community Engagement: Serving vs. Sustaining Community
    This course introduces students to the currents and histories of community engagement, with a particular focus on the role the arts and humanities have played in community engagement and social change. We will explore differences between serving a community and sustaining one over time by exploring the challenges of building and sustaining community-based institutions, movements, and partnerships. Students will explore debates on volunteerism and engagement, talk with community organizers, and become familiar with local campus, grassroots, or non-profit partnerships. The aim of the course is to prepare students for more intensive community engagement by introducing them to community-based movements, how the context surrounding these movements shifts over time, and the role the arts and humanities can play in building and sustaining more just, equitable communities and constellations.

    Section 002 (Rivera) | TU TH 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    Emergent Strategies for Community Engagement
    Emergent strategy is about shifting the way we see and feel the world and each other. Emergent strategies for community engagement is an exploratory course designed for students who have the curiosity to learn more about individual and community practices that foster constant change and rely on relational leadership for adaptation.  This course is designed to guide students in reflecting upon their experiences to better understand and assess the decisions and actions they make as community members, partners, leaders, and educators. In person sessions will engage students in the process of participatory community facilitation, interpersonal dialog, and assessment development to measure transformative change. Additionally, students have the opportunity to pursue their own interest through a fieldwork assignment. All course work and course materials are designed to build on both in-class and field experiences throughout the semester, providing concepts and skills to apply in various community contexts.

    Section 003 (Delgado, V.) | Arranged Hours
    Design for the Common Good

    Communities around the world are challenged by conflicts related to equity, justice, power, privilege and the common good – and by concerns about environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability. In this course, students will use remote technology and community-based design practices to engage these challenges in collaboration with MSU engineering students and community partners in Costa Rica. This is the first course in a two-semester sequence, in which students, as part of an engaged education abroad experience, will ultimately visit with the host community to implement and/or celebrate their designs. The second part of the sequence, however, is not required. 

    More information at: https://rcah.msu.edu/uniquely-rcah/education-away/costa-rica.html 

     

    RCAH 235: Introduction to Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Plough) | M W  12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    Introduction to Sociolinguistics

    This is an introductory course in sociolinguistics. It provides an overview of the study of language as a social and cultural phenomenon. Topics include the linguistic behaviors and attitudes that develop and are questioned as a result of the interaction of language in social contexts, and the sociocultural factors that influence language forms, functions, and use. How language variation (across, for example, regions, age, social class, gender, level education) constructs and is constructed by identity and culture is also covered. A foundation of the concepts, terminology, and research paradigms in sociolinguistics is established.

     

    RCAH 315: Methods in Arts

    Section 001 (Bosse, Scales) | M W  10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    Songwriting and Music Production
    This class involves the creation and recording of popular music, from the initial stages of songwriting through to the recording of those songs. Students will explore the challenges of the creative process, develop their musicianship skills, and become proficient in digital recording technologies, including various kinds of microphones, microphone placements, and some of the basic principles of acoustics.  Part of this process will also include analyzing songs we love and those we love to hate. Students should have the minimum ability to perform in some fashion the music they currently enjoy to listen to and create. 

     

    RCAH 316: Topics in Arts

    Section 001 (TBD) | TU TH  3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.
    Coming Soon!

    RCAH 325: Methods in Community Engagement

    Section 001 (Brooks) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Health and Wellness in Our Communities

    This course on engagement and reflection assists students with developing a deeper understanding of civic engagement and cultivates a commitment to improving personal and community health and wellness. Students will be introduced to issues and challenges affecting the health and well-being of our communities. Using an interdisciplinary approach from the arts, humanities, and social sciences, this course explores the historical, physiological, psychological, spiritual, social, environmental, and occupational forces influencing our health behaviors and lifestyle choices. Topics explored consist of historical and cultural perspectives on health/wellness, psycho-social challenges to healthy living, environmental concerns, chronic diseases, alternative interventions and resources, and health policy studies. The goals of this course are to improve health literacy, draw attention to health disparities, and encourage greater participation in physical activity.

    Section 750 (Delgado, V.) | Arranged Hours
    Sustainability and Civic Engagement in Costa Rica
    More information at: https://rcah.msu.edu/uniquely-rcah/education-away/costa-rica.html 

     

    RCAH 326: Topics in Community Engagement

    Section 001 (Delgado, G.) | TU 12:40 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    The Prison Poetry ‘Zine Project 2.0
    The goals of this course are: to investigate the history of mass incarceration in the US; to understand why art and educational programming is critical to the rehabilitation and well-being of incarcerated communities; and to gain the skills necessary to employ best practices in facilitating community engagement projects within marginalized populations. In this topics course you will explore ‘zine making and poetry with incarcerated communities and examine the works by poets who wrote while in prison, including Etheridge Knight, Jimmy Baca Santiago, Marilyn Buck, and Reginald Dwayne Betts. During visits to a juvenile detention facility you will work with children to write poems and create ‘zines. In-class projects include working with adult incarcerated poets to compose, design, and publish their ‘zines. Along the way, you will investigate the power of stories and their impact on the human condition.

    Section 002 (Torrez) | TU TH 2:40 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    Voces de la Comunidad
    In this course, students will work alongside Greater Lansing Latinx youth and community leaders to investigate the rich history of Latinx communities in the region. In our time together, our community (made up of RCAH students, Latinx youth and community leaders) will participate in oral and written storytelling practices to share the evolution of Lansing’s community through the memories of multiple generations. Highlighting the Latinx experience in Michigan, RCAH and the local Latinx community will collaboratively work to tell the story of Lansing Latinx families, both past and present. Engaging with both youth and elders, we will collectively come to illuminate the importance of the Latinx story and its impact in the across all of the area’s communities. Please note, we will be meeting off site for this engagement.

     

    RCAH 336: Topics in Language and Culture

    Section 001 (TBD) | M W F 1:50 p.m. – 2:40 p.m.
    Coming Soon!

    Section 002 (Torrez) | TU TH 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
    Language, School, and Policy
    In this course, we will investigate issues of language attrition and revitalization. We will focus on how language is impacted by US educational policy, particularly through the emergence (and transformation) of bilingual education. Through seminar-style learning, we will discuss the following questions: How does one evaluate the importance of a language? What is a heritage language, and how does one learn their heritage language? Should resource-strapped educational systems expend funds to provide multilingual education? How does one foster a multilingual space? In addition to these questions, students will investigate how schools are working with heritage language communities to become active agents in maintaining language and protecting their community’s way of life.


    Section 750 (Delgado, V.) | Arranged Hours
    Sustainability and Civic Engagement in Costa Rica
    More information at: https://rcah.msu.edu/uniquely-rcah/education-away/costa-rica.html

     

    RCAH 345: Methods in the Humanities

    Section 001 (Hamilton-Wray) | TU TH 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    Film Studies Methods from “Black Face” to Blindspotting
    The cinema emerging from a nation, community, or artist’s movement can provide a rich site for investigating dominant and contested ideologies within society. This course challenges the notion that cinema is “just entertainment” or pure escapism, and instead suggests that racial, ethnic, and other social identities are constantly being defined in cinema and that these cinematic representations have political implications. Thus, with a particular focus on the history of Black representation in two competing industries, mainstream and Black independent film, this course sets out to investigate the dynamics of the shared cultural space of U.S. cinema. Specifically, this film studies methods course seeks to investigate the interplay between film practices, film spectatorship, and popular culture through historical, social, political, and economic lenses.

     

    RCAH 346: Topics in Humanities

    Section 001 (Sheridan) | M W 12:40 p.m.  – 2:00 p.m.
    The Art of Storytelling
    “Tell me a story.”  We begin making this request as young children.  We continue to make it, in various ways, our whole lives.  Stories are fundamental to human existence.  Indeed, they are an important way that we make sense of the world.  At the same time, stories are mysterious.  Why do we keep turning the page?  Why do we care about people who don’t even exist?  How do mere words trigger real emotions?  This course will focus on the art of storytelling.  Novels and short stories will serve as our primary examples, but we will also look at films, comics, digital stories, and games.  We will be particularly concerned with works that play with form in some way, such as stories that consist of all dialogue or only pictures.  By exploring these narrative experiments, we will come to a deeper understanding of what it takes to build a good story and what a good story can accomplish.

     

    RCAH 492: Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Yoder) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    Thinking Critically about RCAH
    Why an education? Why a university? Why a residential college? Why RCAH? In this course we will place the RCAH program and experience in the broader context of higher education. Think of four concentric circles with U.S. higher education as the outermost circle, followed by MSU, the three residential colleges, and finally, RCAH as the innermost circle. We will explore the RCAH experience by critically exploring each of these layers. Among the questions we will consider are the following: What are some different ways of understanding the goals of higher education? What is the history of residential colleges in the U.S.? How and why were the residential colleges at MSU formed? What were the philosophical foundations and institutional “models” for the RCAH curriculum? How does your learning reflect the RCAH learning goals?

    Section 002 (Aronoff) | TU TH 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    What’s Culture? Whose Culture?  Where’s Culture?
    A key term in academic and popular discourse – including in the RCAH curriculum – is “culture.”  But behind this deceptively simple word is a long and tangled history, the study of which leads one immediately into histories of exploration, imperialism, race, class, science and the arts.  This class, which will serve as a “capstone” course tying together the many strands of your RCAH curricular experience, will examine key texts in the history of the idea of culture in the West – ranging from works of literature, science, anthropology, philosophy and aesthetics – with particular attention to the emergence of anthropology in the modernist period, and the many permutations in contemporary discourses of multiculturalism, transnationalism and the global circulation of “culture(s).”  Along the way we will ask questions like:  What is “culture”?  What does it mean to “have” (a) culture?  To be “cultured”? How do ideas of culture intersect with ideas of ethnicity, race, nationality and personal identity?  Who owns (a) culture?  What is the relationship between “culture” and individual creativity?  Culture and change?  Transculturation and cultural appropriation? How is culture embodied/represented in particular institutions and media (museums? memes?) What kinds of ideas of culture are embodied in the idea of the liberal arts curriculum (and RCAH curriculum

Current Courses: 2018-2019

  • Fall 2018

    RCAH111- Writing Transcultural Contexts

    Section 001 (Plough) | M W 8:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.
    Intercultural Obligations

    The majority of the world is multilingual. The United States is the exception. The socio-political and economic reasons for this are critically reviewed. The consequences for society and for the individual are also examined before turning our attention to our own increasing experiences of intercultural collaboration in school and in the workplace. The challenges and opportunities of these interactions are discussed and then analyzed. For example, how do different cultures view the role of hierarchy in the decision-making process? What are the rules for direct and indirect communication? What is the protocol for conflict resolution? In the end, who is responsible for the ‘success’ of these interactions? These are among the questions we address in class discussions and in writing. 

     

    Section 002 (Aronoff) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    Telling Stories: Composing Knowledges in Transcultural Contexts

    In this section of RCAH 111, we will focus on the connection between culture and “storytelling,” broadly conceived.  That is, we will examine the ways in which culture shapes the ways we perceive the world around us, and how we organize those perceptions into oral and written narratives – be they what we conventionally would call “stories” like personal narratives, myths or novels, or other genres like scientific, academic or philosophical writing, each with their own generic rules for the “stories” they tell.  Drawing primarily on short stories and novels, we will be particularly interested in what happens when different “cultures,” or ways of knowing and writing, collide, clash or mix, in a process we will call “transculturation.”  In what ways, we will ask, does “culture” provide us with narratives, patterns, genres, through which we “shape” our experience into something meaningful?  In what ways do we deploy, bend, mix these “stories”? If culture might be defined as a shared system of meanings through which one interprets the world, in what ways might the classroom constitute “a culture,” and what kinds of “stories” are employed therein?  In what ways are cultural “ways of knowing” embodied in (or constituted by, or complicated through) different genres of writing?  What do each of these ways of knowing/writing/storytelling reveal or enable us to see, and what might they leave out?  In what ways can certain kinds of writing or storytelling be seen as the mixing of, or struggle between, multiple systems of meaning or cultures?  Possible course texts include Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony and/or Art Spiegelman’s Maus.

     

    Section 003 (Hunter Morgan) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.
    Edges & Intersections: How Writers Confront Cultural Contrast

    In this course, we will explore how various writers use cultural contrasts as scaffolding for their work. We’ll think about many kinds of cultural intersections, and we’ll read work that confronts places or moments when traditional binaries (rural and urban, East and West, North and South) collide or blend. We’ll think about how writers handle racial, religious, and generational intersections, and we’ll discuss how many of these junctures are both personal and universal. We’ll examine how specific writers explore and acknowledge the complexity of “other,” and we’ll consider how the work we study might help us grow as readers, writers, and human beings. “Borders” are fascinating places, and many writers use the notion of edges – where one thing meets another – as a meaningful framework for their writing. We’ll read short fiction and essays by ZZ Packer, Joan Didion, John McPhee, Eula Biss, Barry Lopez, Cheryl Strayed, Jamaica Kincaid, and others. We’ll also watch a few short (very short) films. Your work will draw from various genres. You will combine a sense of story with factual elements to generate three creative non-fiction essays as well as a vignette.

     

    Section 004 (Paula) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    The Right to the City: Challenging Spatial Inequalities

    As 21st century cities all over the globe face unprecedented transformations such as mass immigration, rapid urbanization, growing inequality, racial segregation, gentrification, and climate change, we are compelled to think about the struggles over urban resources we are confronted with on a daily basis. By focusing on issues of social justice in its various relations to the city and the urban environment, this course intends to develop contextual understandings of urban struggles in a variety of settings. While engaging with interdisciplinary perspectives, this course will focus particularly on the social, political, and cultural aspects of the “right to the city” concept. With that in mind, this course will examine a variety of urban processes from the perspective of the “right to the city” and look at successful and unsuccessful examples of attempts to create more inclusive and less socially divided cities.

     

    Section 005 (Sheridan) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
    Transculturation in Michigan

    This class will investigate narratives of transculturation in Michigan, including pieces set in the Lower and Upper Peninsulas, in large, small, and midsized cities, pieces located on the Great Lakes and pieces sealed within the state’s interior. We’ll “read” stories, poems, essays, paintings, videos, and songs.  These readings will help launch conversations about the challenges that emerge when cultural groups come into contact.  As a class, we will write about/against/in-response-to these narratives, producing a wide range of compositions, from analytical essays to multimedia projects.

     

    RCAH192-Proseminar

    Section 001 (Delgado, G) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    Yoga and Art: Creating Space for Creativity in Everyday Life

    “The arts (painting, poetry, etc.) are not just these. Eating, drinking, walking are also arts; every act is an art.” ~César Vallejo, Aphorisms (2002)

    Bring your yoga mat and art supplies to class! In this course, we will develop creative rituals for our daily lives by infusing contemplative practices with artmaking. The contemplative practices will include yoga, meditation, and walking. We’ll use these centering tools to think deeper and great more meaning with our art. The creative skills, including poetry, bookmaking, journaling, drawing, painting, and assemblage, will allow us to expand our strategies for navigating the challenges of living and breathing the artist way of life.

     

    Section 002 (Miner) | W 12:40 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    Q:What is black and white and re(a)d all over?
    A: Zines, Artists’ Books, Pamphlets, Chapbooks, and Other Multiples

    A generation ago, everyone knew the answer to the riddle: What is black and white and re(a)d all over? At the time, you would have answered newspapers – or any other print publication – was black and white and read all over. This class takes the above outmoded riddle as a point of departure to study the history and role of do-it-yourself publishing – particularly zines, artists’ books, pamphlets, chapbooks, handbills, broadsides, posters, flyers, etc. – as well as teach students how to create limited-edition publications. In this proseminar, students will make their own zines, artists’ books, or chapbooks, as well as contribute to a collective publication with others in the class. We will read and discuss various limited-edition and short run alternative publications, as well as make our own publications using a digital duplicator – commonly known as risograph or stencil printing – located in the LMC. While risograph printing was used primarily before the advent of photocopiers, artists and designers now use this antiquated technology to publish limited-edition publications, commonly distributed at zine fests and art book fairs.

     

    RCAH202-The Presence of the Past

    Section 001 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.
    Presence of the Past: Global Slavery

    Starting with slavery in ancient times and working toward the present, this class looks at how various forms of involuntary servitude (conveniently all lumped together under the term “slavery”) have served as underpinnings for production of goods and services. We will look at the Atlantic World, but also the Indian Ocean World, and systems on the African continent to compare involuntary servitude across time and space. We will be looking at how these systems of involuntary labor differed and were similar—and debate whether they were all “slavery.” We will also examine how they contributed in ways large and small to the creation of the globalized world in which we live. The forces that led to the rise and fall of slavery have shaped our world in a wide variety of ways, and this course will help you interrogate the ways in which this is still important, and how debates over the legacy of slavery and reparations have been and continue to be contentious.

     

    Section 003 (Hamilton-Wray) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
    African Oral Traditions and the Making of History

    Oral tradition plays a vital role in the construction and reproduction of “official histories”. However, the role of oral tradition is often not explicitly acknowledged. This course makes visible the presence and role of oral tradition in history-making, with particular focus on African diasporic oral culture found in folklore, music, proverbs, cuisine, humor, literature, and other aspects of African and African diasporic society. Our look at multiple histories, specifically oral history, imagined history, autobiographical history, and “trans-history” (history that connects the past and the future), will guide us in addressing the questions: What do these multiple histories of African peoples reveal about their struggle, resistance, and liberation? How have and can these histories be employed for positive social change? How do we understand our own official histories when we take into account oral tradition?

     

    Section 004 (Thobani) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Representing the Exotic: Sex, Gender and Culture in Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts

    This course introduces students to the politics of representation and cultural production by examining how gender and sexuality have been depicted in representations of the ‘exotic’. How have such representations shaped popular imaginaries from the colonial past to the ‘postcolonial’ present? In what ways have these representations changed and/or remained consistent over time? What kinds of ideas about cultural difference are embedded in notions of the ‘exotic’? Attending to these questions, we will learn how to apply an historical approach to account for the continuities and discontinuities between past and present ideas about the ‘exotic’. Drawing on examples from visual art, literature, performance and contemporary popular culture, we explore how sex and gender have been represented in reference to different regions of the ‘Orient’. We will also study the relationship between different cultural contexts as we analyze examples of such cultural production from Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia.

     

    Section 005 (Esquith) | Tu Th 7:00 p.m. – 8:50 p.m. (Honors Section)
    Mythic Heros of War

    One way to grasp the presence of the past is through the dominant myths that we live by. What stories do we tell about the past and its development over time? How do these stories – whether they take the form of poetry, theater, film, novels, constitutions, or the everyday rituals of popular culture – structure and guide our lives?  In what sense are these stories present to us?  In what sense are they myths we live by?

    The goal of the course is to understand how certain myths about heroism have been carried forward, what other possible worlds they may open to us, and how they empower some people while disabling others. We will focus specifically on heroes of war. We will focus initially on the Homeric heroes Achilles and Odysseus, and the main characters in Sophocles's Ajax. As we read these texts, we will also consider ways in which these stories prefigure the stories of today’s soldiers who suffer from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and moral injury. Among the contemporary texts that students will choose from are Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad; Roxanna Robinson, Sparta; Ellen McLaughlin, Ajax in Iraq; Paul Woodruff, The Ajax Dilemma: Justice, Fairness and Rewards (Oxford University Press, 2011); Nancy Sherman, Afterwar: Healing the Moral Wounds of our Soldiers (Oxford University Press, 2015), and David Finkel, Thank you for your service (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013).

     

    RCAH291-Arts Workshops

    Section 001 (Sheridan) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    Advanced Media Production and Design

    This workshop will explore the social and aesthetic potentials of video- and print-based media. Content is tailored to students who already have a background in one or more areas of media production. Students will generate creative and socially meaningful projects, exploring fundamental principles of design in the process. We will also investigate strategies for critiquing the work of others. This class will provide excellent preparation for anyone who wishes to work in the RCAH Language and Media Center.

     

    Section 002 (Scales) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    The Music of Southern Appalachia

    Appalachian communities have a rich and deep musical tradition that has played a unique role in the musical, political, and social life of America.  In this class, students will engage with this tradition through the first hand participation in the music, performing “old-time” string band music, ballad singing, shape-note singing, and more.  We will also examine the many social functions of this music in American public life, including its influence on other contemporary musical genres (bluegrass, country, folk and protest music), its connection with American leftist politics in the 20th century, and its central role in the public imagination of “authentic” American identity.  Some background in music is recommended (but not required).

     

    Section 003 (Baibak) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
    Painting on the Edge

    If one is going to paint, why paint on a canvas? Our world holds so many forms.
    Let us explore them with acrylic paint. Paint is the great transformer! Its color and texture can alter the way we perceive the shape of a thing.  In this class, students will examine the relationships between paint and the 3-dimensional surface. We will look at artists/designers who already paint this way while developing our own painting techniques. We’ll consider how form can communicate our ideas, create metaphors, and present as visual poetic compositions.  The class will work with translucent forms and paint in reverse. We will be guided by real shadow and light relationships. We shall explore objects as topographies and mess up their varying surfaces. Let’s transform! We will question ideas about objects in our culture; why and how to create in a world where maybe we have too many things. Let’s reason “makings” value; should we create more stuff, or is it part of our evolution? These are questions that always come up for me, so maybe you’re thinking about these things too.  Let’s paint on the edge without fear of falling off. No previous painting experience needed.

     

    Section 004  | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Acting Fundamentals

    The goal of this class is to awaken the imagination and intellect of the student actor to make them more aware of the transformative power of theatre and the role of the arts in human society.  The craft of acting requires disciplined use of the body, including the voice and the mind, to uncover the meaning and vision of a play. Practice in close reading skills will prepare students to unearth the text, subtext, style and genre of dramatic texts. Regular on-your-feet workshops in various contemporary acting techniques, and practice in solo and group scene work will deepen their self-knowledge so they might represent these stories in open, honest and believable ways. Opportunities to explore performing using plays largely drawn from the 20th and 21st centuries (since 1960) will expose students to the felt history of recent human experience. By the end of the semester, students will have cultivated a greater sense of themselves, learned to listen and collaborate with others deeply, and gained new perspectives on human culture and their own potential.

     

    RCAH292A-Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Esquith) | M 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
    Peace Building

    The focus of this introduction to civic engagement is peace building, that is, how we can reduce violent conflict both globally and locally through civic engagement. What can we as citizens do to mitigate violence and encourage more non-violent forms of dialogue and discussion among opposing groups? Peace building is not utopian. It does not aspire to rid the world of conflict. Its goal is to lessen the levels of violence in the context of continuing conflicts, disagreements, and compromises.

    One of the earliest modern peace builders in the US was Myles Horton. Horton began as a union organizer in the mountains of Appalachia and that led him to the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ‘60s. His autobiography, The Long Haul, is still relevant to us today as we struggle to build peace in a world plagued with violent conflicts at home and abroad. After acquainting ourselves with Horton’s story, we will consider a more conceptual approach to peace building, Transformative Change: An Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies.

    We will apply these insights to an ongoing peace building project, the World Peace Game, which RCAH students have created in collaboration with high school students through the Lansing Refugee Development Center (RDC). We will meet once per week at our regular class time (Mondays, 3-4:50 PM) and then an additional 2 hours (probably Mondays 6-8 PM) with these young refugee students to play and discuss the World Peace Game.

    To understand the Peace Game and how it has been incorporated into the RCAH civic engagement curriculum earlier, see this article by RCAH alumna Kelsey Block

    Section 002 (Brooks) | Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
    Holistic Citizenship: Living and Working in Engaged Communities

    This proseminar is an introduction to civic engagement and explores the concepts of identity, consciousness, community, culture, citizenship, and reflection using an interdisciplinary approach. Employing theories and methodologies from the arts and humanities, as well as incorporating methods from the social and natural sciences, students will read and discuss an assortment of written and visual texts (artwork, writings, film, etc.) to facilitate learning and to enhance critical thinking. In addition, students will complete experiential learning exercises that build relationships with civic organizations and work toward improving personal and community health/wellness. More specifically, this course will assist students with developing an understanding of the various types of civic engagement activities in relation to the RCAH model on civic engagement (insight, practice, action, passion). Students will be challenged to evaluate notions of vulnerability, empathy, and belongingness. Then, students will be asked to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate existing and new ways of performing civic engagement that improves individuals, families, communities, and humanity.

     

    RCAH292B-Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Delgado, G) | T 12:40 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    The Prison Poetry ‘Zine Project

    In this civic engagement course, we will practice and use the arts to infuse positive social change in our prison system and beyond. Through weekly visits to prisons, we will work side-by-side with incarcerated people, including children, to create poetry ‘zines and facilitate and perform slam poetry. We will investigate and reflect on why the arts matter in prison—its impact on rehabilitation and communities inside and outside the prison walls. The works of poets who wrote while in prison, including Etheridge Knight, Jimmy Baca Santiago, Marilyn Buck, and Reginald Dwayne Betts, will be introduced and discussed.

     

    Section 002 (Torrez) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
    Educacíon, comunidad, y familia

    Through investigating with various research models, local history, and exploring community-based models, this course will bring together the experiences of students from Michigan State University (MSU) and Lansing School District (LSD). Collaboratively we will work alongside Latinx youth in shaping Lansing School District's understanding of the Latinx community.  Working with 9th-12th-grade students in Lansing high schools, we will discover the power of telling stories by way of seeing local Latino history through the eyes of Latino youth.  Engaging with high school students, we will work alongside our high school partners to learn the importance of their own story and their impact on their local community.

     

    RCAH292C-Independent Engagement

    Section 001 (Arranged)
    Independent Engagement

    292C courses are unique, independent engagements of variable credit negotiated between students, community partners, and RCAH faculty. They assume that the student and the community have established a relationship of mutual respect, trust, and benefit. They also assume a high level of passion and experience. These courses focus heavily on the action and insight areas of the RCAH Civic Engagement model. Students select and work with a specific faculty of record and community partner to develop and implement the syllabus and the engagement program for the course.

     

    RCAH320-Art and Public Life

    Section 001 (Hamilton-Wray) | M W 10:20a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
    Third Cinema and Film for Social Change

    This course explores the global film movement, Third Cinema, a radical approach to filmmaking that challenges injustice and oppression, and encourages an active relationship between the filmmakers and their audiences. This course looks at the roots of Third Cinema, as well as how particular political landscapes shape the many ways that Third Cinema has developed and is expressed. With a background in Third World film history and Third Cinema film theory, students will investigate specific national cinemas and the different ways that politics, culture, and cinematic expression converge in Third Cinema globally? Additionally, they’ll explore specific challenges Third Cinema filmmakers face in funding, creating, distributing, and exhibiting their work? And finally, students will look at the possibilities film for positive social change and the practice of Third Cinema in a local context?

     

    RCAH330-Nature and Culture

    Section 001 (Skeen) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
    Appalachian Literature and Culture

    The primary goal of this course is to explore the history of the Appalachian region through looking at documentary and popular film, scholarly and personal essays, and the work of poets and fiction writers from Appalachia.  As West Virginia is the only state completely in the Appalachian region, we will focus our study on the literature and culture of that state and learn how it is both representative of and different from other areas of Appalachia.  We will work to comprehend the richness of this region, past and present, and explore the themes of regional folklore and music, fine art and local craft, the power of religious and family tradition, and isolation and community.  For students who would like to spend a little time in Appalachia (for an additional cost of approximately $300) the course will include a four-day excursion to West Virginia near the end of September for a weekend of regional history and culture.
     

    Section 002 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 1:00 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.
    Nature and Culture: Disease and the Making of Public Health in Africa

    How do societies define a “disease?” When is a disease a threat to a government, or to individuals, and when is it an individual matter? This course will explore issues in endemic and epidemic diseases, focusing largely on the African continent. We will look at how and when governments decide to provide medical services to people within their borders. Using Africa will allow us to explore the dynamics of public health within the realm of colonialism as well as in post-independence governments that are supposed to represent the will and desire of the people. Do they? For whom are health programs designed, and in the 21st century what role do international organizations, from faith-based charities to multi-national corporations and foundations play in the provision of health facilities and care? The class will ask students to explore issues related to ethics and morality as well as health.

     

    RCAH380-Third Year Tutorial

    Section 001 (Thobani) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.
    Performing India: Arts, Culture and Nation Formation

    This course examines the role of ‘arts and culture’ in producing ideas about Indian national identity. Some of the questions we will address in class include: What are the convergences and divergences between colonial ideas about India, anti-colonial nationalist constructs of cultural heritage, and contemporary representations of a globalizing Indian nation? What makes artistic and cultural production such a powerful medium for the construction and dissemination of these ideas? What does it mean to practice and consume ‘arts’ that are historically rooted in the colonial encounter in the present moment? This course will be of interest to students of South Asian studies, as well as students interested in postcolonial studies, cultural studies, and studies of nation formation more broadly.

     

    Section 002 (Monberg) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    Community Literacy, Civic Engagement, Collaboration

    What is do we mean by the term, “community literacy”? What programs support the literacies of community members? How do programs  collaborate with schools, colleges, and universities? When is a sustainable model appropriate and when is a more tactical approach necessary and why? In this tutorial, students will explore these questions by looking at research on community literacy and the kinds of programs that foster community literacy and civic engagement through innovative models of collaboration. There will be a particular focus on programs that work with Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) communities, communities of color, and other historically underrepresented communities. We will begin with some common readings. Students will then survey/research several models of community literacy collaborations. Finally, students will define their own individual projects, which may include proposing, creating, or expanding a community literacy project; developing a curriculum to foster community literacies; or researching the collaborative process of creating sustainable programs. The goal of the class is to further develop students’ research capacities (broadly defined) and to guide them through the process of designing and carrying out a research-informed project.

     

    Section 003 (Yoder) | Tu Th 2:40 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
    Religion without God? – Topics in Religious Naturalism

    “Religious naturalism” is a term that emerged in the 1980s from a wide ranging conversation between theologians, scientists, and philosophers of religion. Though it is an umbrella term used to cover a range of positions, the intellectual terrain included in religious naturalism is roughly defined by two shared commitments. The first is a commitment to naturalism, to the premise that we should look to the natural world, rather than some supernatural realm to explain and give meaning to our experience. The second is the claim that this commitment to naturalism does not preclude religion, that there can be authentic religious responses to the world that do not depend on the existence of a supernatural realm.

     

    RCAH390-Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Bosse) | M  6:00 p.m. – 8:50 p.m.
    Music, Language and Meaning

    It is often said that music is a universal language. While untrue, we collectively cling to this notion for reasons that reveal something important about human communication; for music and language are among the semiotic skills and behaviors that most uniquely define us as humans. While music and language may be useful in different ways, both involve the conversion of complex auditory sequences into meaningful units and structures (and vice versa) in a real-time, moment-to-moment, rapid-fire fashion.

    Scholars through the ages have explored the connections between music and language, and music as language, from Plato to Charles Darwin to Leonard Bernstein. Participants in this course will add our voices to the conversation; engaging disciplines ranging from cultural criticism and cultural anthropology; musicology and music theory; semiotics, linguistics and communication studies; cognition, psychology and neuroscience.

     

    Section 002 (Torrez) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
    Am I My Language?  

    Language is more than a tool of communication and its cultural significance moves beyond a channel through which information is transmitted. In fact, language is used as a channel for tradition, knowledge, survival skills, healing, and resistance. In the above statement Joshua Fishman intimates how in certain circumstances, language is used as a weapon for colonization, subjugation, and assimilation. Therefore, it is not surprising that amidst an era of globalization, the language of commerce is rampantly replacing dozens of Indigenous and heritage languages. In response to global unilingualism, communities devote efforts to maintain heritage languages, while demanding their linguistic rights. Additionally, these communities perform counter-hegemonic actions to prevent the dissolving of their sociocultural and linguistic practices.

    In addition to the commonly studied categories of race, gender, and class, this section will investigate how language is inextricably linked to identity formation and the implications of a global society.  This course will delve into the discussion of language attrition and revitalization, in addition to how these processes affect identity construction (both individually and as a community). Through meaningful dialogue, we will discuss the importance of language on our own identities and the implications of language loss on the identities of our respective communities.  We will focus on the manifestations of these issues from a global perspective. 

      

    RCAH492-Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Aronoff) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    What’s Culture? Whose Culture?  Where’s Culture?

    A key term in academic and popular discourse – including in the RCAH curriculum – is “culture.”  But behind this deceptively simple word is a long, tangled and complex history, the study of which leads one immediately into histories of exploration, imperialism, race, class, science and the arts.  This class will examine key texts in the history of the idea of culture in the West – ranging from works of literature, science, anthropology, philosophy and aesthetics – with particular attention to the emergence of anthropology in the modernist period, and the many permutations and problems with culture in contemporary discourses of multiculturalism, transnationalism and the global circulation of “culture(s).”  Along the way we will ask questions like:  What is “culture”?  What does it mean to “have” (a) culture?  To be “cultured”? How do ideas of culture intersect with ideas of ethnicity, race, nationality and personal identity?  Who owns (a) culture?  How do particular cultures “own” you? What is the relationship between “culture” and individual creativity?  Culture and change?  Transculturation and cultural appropriation? How is culture embodied/represented in particular institutions and media (museums? MTV? The internet?) What kinds of ideas of culture are embodied in the idea of the liberal arts curriculum (and RCAH curriculum)?    What is the “culture” of the RCAH?  How was that culture created?

  • Spring 2019

    RCAH112-Writing Research Technologies

    Section 001 (Aronoff) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.
    Our America:  Cultures of American Modernism, 1919-1930

    The focus of this section of RCAH 112 is the idea of “American culture” as it is renegotiated and reimagined in the United States in the 1920s and 30s. More accurately, we might say we are investigating shifts in “American” “culture,” since, we will discover, both of these terms – what it means to be an “American” and what it means to “have culture” – undergo crucial and complex shifts in this period.  This section, then, will examine debates over “American” culture, race, national identity and art in the modernist period.  Looking at various primary documents, with particular attention to the arts (modernist poetry, literature, jazz and other media), we will ask:  how do these texts imagine the relationship between “race,” “nation,” and “culture”? How do these constructions engage debates over immigration, assimilation and pluralism?  What is the relationship between racial and /or cultural identity and political identity (or citizenship)? What is the relationship between “culture,” art, and new modes technologies? Is industrialism and its methods the end of “culture” as “high art,” or the beginning of a new kind of “culture”?  How did new forms of artistic expression (broadly speaking, “modernist” art) respond to, challenge, or incorporate these new social conditions?  We will then think about how these modernist debates reverberate in contemporary, 21st Century contexts, in questions of transnational migration, national identity, cultural “ownership” and authenticity, etc. The breadth of these questions will allow for a wide variety of approaches and specific interest:  like all sections of 112, we will be able to pursue the burning questions we raise by developing our skills as researchers and writers.

     

    Section 002 (Yoder) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.
    Researching and Writing about Ethical Issues

    While questions in bioethics are often considered to be very personal, they are also at the heart of many public controversies.  In this course we will use both public and scholarly reflection on bioethical issues to deepen our understanding of the practice of research and writing in the humanities.  We will use this material in order to increase our understanding of 1) what it means to do research in the humanities, 2) how to use writing as a means of inquiry, 3) how to evaluate and construct arguments, and 4) how to conduct and present a research project in the humanities.  Each student will produce a thesis-driven research paper on a relevant topic of their choice, a project utilizing an alternative format for presenting the results of their research, and a writing portfolio documenting both these final products and the processes used to produce them. 

     

    Section 003 (Paula) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    Community Activist and Social Movements

    A Transnational Perspective Social movements have long been considered a driving force behind political, social, and cultural change. Focusing on the cultural contexts of collective action, this course will explore theoretical perspectives and look at local, national, and global examples of social movements activism. Throughout the semester, we will discuss the tactics and organizing strategies used by social movements and examine the various reactive and repressive responses to social activism. In addition, we will study how social movements have changed in the last century and explore the role of allies and adversaries in supporting and/or damaging community engagement.

    The course is intended to prepare students to conduct academic research and requires students to produce critical research papers or projects (topic of their choice) that consider how social movements come about, and what allows them or constrains them in effecting social change.

     

    Section 004 (Sheridan) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    The Production of Culture

    This class focuses on the ways that the analytical and creative work of the arts and humanities can help to solve real-world problems.  The premises of this course are: (1) that forms of cultural expression (such as stories, videos, performances, music, etc.) can be powerful tools of social change; and (2) that all of us are potentially producers of these forms.  Accordingly, students will begin by identifying a cultural problem — something they would like to see changed in the world.  They will analyze the way the problem is embodied in popular culture (e.g., movies, music, websites).  Finally, they will devise their own "cultural interventions": movies, music, websites, and other compositions aimed at addressing the cultural problem in question.

     

    Section 750 (Delgado,V) | (Arranged)
    Program on Sustainability in Costa Rica

    More information at:

    http://rcah.msu.edu/programs/education-away/costa-rica.html

     

    RCAH192-Proseminar

    Section 001 (Skeen) | M W 8:30 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.
    Poetry:  News that Stays News

    “The most famous statements about poetry and journalism hide an equation inside an opposition: “It is difficult/ to get the news from poems/ yet men die miserably every day/ for lack// of what is found there” (William Carlos Williams). Or else they hide an opposition inside an equation: “Poetry is news that stays news” (Ezra Pound).”  --Stephen Burt.

    Every day we find ourselves bombarded with “the news”:  breaking news, fake news, old news, cable news, to name just a few.  If poetry really is “news that stays news,” who are the poets who have reported that news and helped us to survive by reading it?  In this course we will look to the U.S. Poets Laureate, a position that was created by Congress in 1937, over 80 years ago, and examine what those poets have said to us.  Who or what is a poet laureate?  Who chooses the poets, and what do they do?  We’ll place these writers in an historical and literary context, as well as look at the often uneasy position they found themselves in between politics and art, as many of us do today.  And what about the state and city poets laureate?  Which states appoint them and which don’t?  Who are they?  What do they do?  We’ll do reading, research, and writing, both scholarly and creative.

     

    Section 002 (Torrez) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 p.m.
    It’s a Small World, After All

    Walt Disney once said, “I think of a child’s mind as a blank book. During the first years of his life, much will be written on pages. The quality of that writing will affect his life profoundly.” Using this philosophy, Disney erected a multibillion-dollar corporation Imagineering future generations ideals, roles, and beliefs. For some, Disney became a symbol of imagination, fantasy, and peace; while others came to see Disney as the hands molding children into conventional American values not mirroring their own principles. Yet others saw Disney as a pervasive entity neatly packaging childhood into Eurocentric ideals, represented through character-based products ranging from cookies to beauty products to clothing to McDonald Happy Meal toys.

    In this course, we will collaboratively investigate and compare stories in their original form to those (re)told in contemporary times. Traditionally stories began as a way to pass along customs, histories, and morals, they also worked as devices to instill certain societal principles. In this way, cultures throughout the world have used storytelling as a means to inform younger generations of how they become “community members,” how the elements are created, or even motivations for migration. A few questions guiding this course are: What is lost in the (re)telling of these stories?  Can the communities that depend on these stories to pass along cultural knowledge reappropriate those stories once they are Disneyified? Are Disney films “innocent” entertainment or are they something else? Is Disney a reflection of society or society a reflection of Disney?

     

    Section 003 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.
    Proseminar: Urban Renewal in Lansing

    This course is an introduction for students to ideas of renewal and change, development and progress. These terms all seemingly have positive connotations, but they have also in American history concealed violence and histories of community dispossession. Most of the “urban renewal” projects of the 1960s, including freeway construction and the creation of housing projects, involved cutting swaths through African-American and other poor/marginalized communities. This was true for the Lansing area, and its Interstate 496 project.

    This class will look at some of those histories to better understand how discourses of progress and social programs purporting to serve poor populations have been used to displace as well. We will also be working with digital humanities professionals from across campus and a collection of photographs that the Historical Society of Greater Lansing has to create a digital recreation of the African-American neighborhood that was razed to create Lansing’s modern transportation network. The project will focus on what was there, what is there today, and how various groups and individuals understood the changes taking place.

     

    RCAH203-Transcultural Relations

    Section 001 (Plough) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.
    The Globalization of Yoga

    After an overview of the origins and major schools of yoga, the course focuses on the introduction and spread of the practice and philosophy outside of India. We will explore possible reasons for and the effects of the worldwide adoption of yoga on the practice itself, taking into consideration the commercialization (e.g., clothing, retreats, publications) of the tradition as well as its integration into western medicine (e.g., pain management, stress relief, improved mobility). Among the questions we will address are: What commonalities exist between ‘modern’ and ‘classical’ yoga? How has yoga changed since its introduction to populations outside of India? How does the ‘same’ yoga differ based on where it is practiced? Is there an ‘authentic’ or ‘pure’ yoga? 

     

    Section 002 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
    Transcultural Relations: African Popular Culture and Independence in the 20th Century

    This course examines histories of popular culture—things like music, the arts, and sport, etc.—to think about how people built community. With the rise and fall of colonialism, people across Africa had to work to build new communities around shared ideas of country and culture.

    This class looks at a number of case studies to try to figure out how popular culture was used (and abused) by leaders and common people alike in their quest to build new nations out of the damage caused by colonialism. We will look at apartheid South Africa, and how protests that erupted globally helped change perceptions about the country. We will look at and listen to popular music from Angola and Zimbabwe to try to better understand how people survived wars against European colonial powers, and how they used music and other forms of culture as part of the battle. 

    How is citizenship constructed and what does it mean for a country to be “independent?” Looking at Africa, we will ask questions that are relevant to contexts the world over.

     

    Section 003 (Thobani) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Migration and Diaspora Through the Arts

    In this course, we will study the relationships among and between ‘homelands’, ‘diasporas’ and ‘host nations’ by focusing on art and cultural production. In what ways do ‘cultures’ shift and change as diasporic communities migrate and settle in their new locations? How are the cultures of the homeland, diaspora, and host nation reproduced over time? How does the relationship between these three sites affect diasporic cultural production, and how is it shaped by such production in turn? In what ways do diasporic communities and actors address issues of race, class and gender through cultural production? What can the study of diasporic art reveal about identity formation in the context of migration? Taking examples from music, dance, cinema, fashion, literature and the visual arts, we will explore the many ways in which diasporic identity is produced and expressed in different locations. We will also interrogate questions of cultural belonging, nostalgia, ‘authenticity’, and essentialism. Rather than limit the focus to one particular diasporic community, our aim in this course is to study the connections that exist between and across different cultural groups in the transnational present.

     

    Section 750 (Delgado,V) | (Arranged)
    Program on Sustainability in Costa Rica

    More information at:

    http://rcah.msu.edu/programs/education-away/costa-rica.html

     

    RCAH291-Arts Workshop

    Section 001 (Delgado, G.) | M 12:40 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    The Prison Poetry ‘Zine Project

    In this arts workshop course, we will practice and use the arts, including poetry and creative writing, to infuse positive social change in our prison system and beyond. Through weekly visits to prisons, we will work side-by-side with incarcerated people, including children, to create poetry ‘zines and facilitate and perform slam poetry. We will investigate and reflect on why the arts matter in prison—its impact on rehabilitation and communities inside and outside the prison walls. The works of poets who wrote while in prison, including Etheridge Knight, Jimmy Baca Santiago, Marilyn Buck, and Reginald Dwayne Betts, will be introduced and discussed.

     

    Section 002 (Bosse and Scales) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    Creative Workshop: Songwriting and Music Production

    This class involves the creation and recording of popular music, from the initial stages of songwriting through to the recording of those songs. Students will explore the challenges of the creative process, develop their musicianship skills, and become proficient in digital recording technologies, including various kinds of microphones, microphone placements, and some of the basic principles of acoustics.  Part of this process will also include analyzing songs we love and those we love to hate. Students should have the minimum ability to perform in some fashion the music they currently enjoy to listen to and create. 

     

    Section 003 (Miner) | Tu Th  12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    Printing Politics: Posters, Broadsides, and Radical Ephemera

    As aesthetic and political objects, the poster has a long tradition, particularly in relation to activist, revolutionary, and public art. For the Atelier Populaire, a French collective working during the May ’68 uprising, posters functioned as ‘weapons in the service of the struggle,’ as well as an inseparable part of that same struggle. Much like their peers in Cuba a decade earlier or in Mexico three decades prior, the Atelier Populaire is central to ‘popular printmaking’ practices in which artists and activists use hand-printed posters to challenge dominant institutions.  Today, with the advent of digital printing and the prominence of capitalism as the dominant economic system, the poster has become synonymous with slick corporate marketing, particularly linked to Hollywood cinema.  Outside the constraints of corporate design, popular printmaking – such as screenprinting –  confronts and contests the frequency of digital technologies and the corporate control of visual spaces.

    In this class, students will learn basic 1. relief printing, 2. screenprinting, and 3. risography as techniques available to them as they work on their projects in this class.

     

    Section 004  (Newman) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Dance as Human Experience

    Why do humans have an innate impulse to move, to dance? Through observation and exploration, students begin with a personal journey, from noticing ordinary movement to recognizing the extraordinary choices and possibilities that dance offers. Relationships to the broader context of history, culture, communication, social issues, and aesthetics are realized over the arc of experience. Students in this class can expect to move, to discover, to create, to write. They will learn to recognize dance/movement as an everyday tool by which humans experience and interpret life. No previous dance experience necessary.

     

    RCAH292A-Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Brooks) | Tu 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Holistic Citizenship: Living and Working in Engaged Communities

    This proseminar is an introduction to civic engagement and explores the concepts of identity, consciousness, community, culture, citizenship, and reflection using an interdisciplinary approach. Employing theories and methodologies from the arts and humanities, as well as incorporating methods from the social and natural sciences, students will read and discuss an assortment of written and visual texts (artwork, writings, film, etc.) to facilitate learning and to enhance critical thinking. In addition, students will complete experiential learning exercises that build relationships with civic organizations and work toward improving personal and community health/wellness. More specifically, this course will assist students with developing an understanding of the various types of civic engagement activities in relation to the RCAH model on civic engagement (insight, practice, action, passion). Students will be challenged to evaluate notions of vulnerability, empathy, and belongingness. Then, students will be asked to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate existing and new ways of performing civic engagement that improves individuals, families, communities, and humanity.

     

    Section 002 (Monberg) | Th 4:10 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    Stories that Sustain Community

    This proseminar prepares students for civic engagement in RCAH and beyond by exploring the difference between serving and sustaining community. The United States, in particular, has a “distinct culture” of nonprofit and community-based organizations that depend on volunteerism (Stewart and Casey 2013). While volunteerism has its place in community-based work, it often privileges a short-term commitment and a short-term understanding of communities. Taking a long-term view of community, students in this course will first explore different models of civic engagement and how those models inform and impact community collaborations. We will then explore civic engagement programs that use spoken word and digital storytelling to foster community among refugee youth and communities. Finally, in the later part of the semester, students will collaborate with a youth program at Lansing’s Refugee Development Center (RDC) on a spoken word or digital storytelling project.

     

    Section 750 (Delgado,V) | (Arranged)
    Program on Sustainability in Costa Rica

    More information at:

    http://rcah.msu.edu/programs/education-away/costa-rica.html

     

    RCAH292B-Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Whitney) | M W  10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
    Nonprofit Arts and Innovation: Community Engagement through Experiential Learning

    Designed to provide authentic field experiences in conjunction with academic study, this course has a primary focus on non-profit arts management with an introduction to social entrepreneurism. Civic engagement experiences will offer individual students a behind-the-scenes perspective at the site of community arts agencies and an opportunity to gain knowledge, skills, and connections with community partners. Class sessions will feature several expert guest speakers and examine aspects of nonprofit arts organizations, such as: vision, leadership, innovation, and the discipline within day-to-day operations integral to making a mission a reality.

     

    Section 002 (Brooks) | M W  3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    Health and Wellness in Our Communities

    This course on engagement and reflection assists students with developing a deeper understanding of civic engagement and cultivates a fervent commitment to improving personal and community health and wellness. Students will be introduced to issues and challenges affecting the health and well-being of our communities. Using an interdisciplinary approach from the arts, humanities, and social sciences, this course explores the historical, physiological, psychological, spiritual, social, environmental, and occupational forces influencing our health behaviors and lifestyle choices. Topics explored consist of historical and cultural perspectives on health/wellness, psycho-social challenges to healthy living, environmental concerns, chronic diseases, alternative interventions and resources, and health policy studies. The goals of this course are to improve health literacy, draw attention to health disparities, and encourage greater participation in physical activity.

     

    Section 003 (Baibak) | W 12:40 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
    Inside the Peckham Art Studio

    In this civic engagement course we will work with RCAH’s partners at Peckham Inc., inside the Peckham Art Studio. Peckham provides people with physical, cognitive, behavioral and socio-economic challenges, a platform to demonstrate their ability, learn new skills, participate in work and enjoy the rewards of their success. We’ll use this unique experience to explore what is “Civic Engagement”. By working alongside Peckham artists, in their studio, making art, and sharing stories, we will be fueled to reflect on how interpersonal interactions expand our own understanding of the world we live in. The class will learn “People First Language”, be exposed to social design, and engage as amateur social anthropologist practicing participatory observation. Students will assess the time we spend with our partners through creative writing and art processes.

     

    Section 750 (Delgado,V) | (Arranged)
    Program on Sustainability in Costa Rica

    More information at:

    http://rcah.msu.edu/programs/education-away/costa-rica.html

     

    RCAH292C-Independent Engagement

    Section 001 (Arranged)
    Independent Engagement

    292C courses are unique, independent engagements of variable credit negotiated between students, community partners, and RCAH faculty. They assume that the student and the community have established a relationship of mutual respect, trust, and benefit. They also assume a high level of passion and experience. These courses focus heavily on the action and insight areas of the RCAH Civic Engagement model. Students select and work with a specific faculty of record and community partner to develop and implement the syllabus and the engagement program for the course.

     

    RCAH304-LGBTQ Studies

    Section 001 (Schwartz) | M W 4:10 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (cross listed with WS/LBC)
    From Perversion to Marriage: Media and the LGBTQ Community

    The rise of the LGBTQ community equality movement is one formed and informed by the media, ranging from the early 20th century reports of same-gender loving persons as perverts, the red scare and the free love movement to the Stonewall Rebellion and the struggle for marriage equality. The rise of HIV and its death toll in the LGBTQ communities provided a focused reality for the struggle for equality and caused newsrooms to confront their biases, both in their news coverage and employment practices. The epidemic also served as a pivot point shifting the media focus from the acts of sex to the identity of sexuality and the humanity of the people impacted. Gay press led the way, but it's an untold story that will be revealed through this course led by a journalist with 50 years’ experience on the front lines.

                 

    RCAH310-Childhood and Society

    Section 001 (Torrez) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
    Critical Pedagogy

    Teaching is a political act and the classroom is a potential revolutionary space.  These words, pronounced by Brazilian educational theorist Paulo Freire, are often used globally to situate teaching within notions of activism.  In a time when education is confused with schooling, and learning is solely gauged by “standardized” assessments, we must critically interrogate our roles as teachers and as learners.

    This course is founded on democratic education, presupposing that everyone actively participates in the generation, transformation, and production of knowledge. In this way, everyone must engage in the process of transformative learning, facilitating active participation in a process “that by rethinking our past, we can fundamentally gain an understanding of the formation of our self, the roots of our present condition, and the limits as well as the possibilities of our being a self-in-the-world” (Torres, 2007). In this course we will engage in questions such as: How do current students, overwhelmed with a turbulent political climate, critically engage in/with their learning process? Why should we bother to engage? What are the responsibilities of educators and learners in democratic education and how can we assume those responsibilities?

     

    RCAH340-Technology and Creativity

    Section 001 (Aronoff)| M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.
    Fictions of Science and Technology

    This course will examine the interplay between scientific philosophies, technology and literature.  We will explore this interplay in terms of both content and form: in other words, we will study the ways in which the “subject matter” of science and technology – the theories, discoveries, inventions of science – are explored within novels and short stories to probe their implications for our conceptions of society, the self, and art; we will also think about how scientific “ways of knowing” – rationality, empiricism, linear narrative – have been deployed and resisted to shape the genres of the realist novel, detective fiction, gothic tales and science fiction.  Finally, we will also think about how the technology of the book itself shapes the kinds of narratives that can be produced, and how new technologies – the internet, hypertext, etc. – might produce new kinds of narratives.

     

    RCAH380-Third Year Tutorial

    Section 001 (Paula) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
    Insurgent Citizenship: New Urban Social Movements

    This course will consider the ways in which groups of ‘insurgent citizens’ subvert old paradigms of political participation and take on novel forms of action to address various aspects of the urban experience. We will look at transnational and transcultural insurgent modes of claiming spaces and rights through urban social movements that reconfigure conventional understandings of what it means to be a citizen. We will explore how interventions such as squatter occupations in Barcelona, mega informal markets in Buenos Aires, widespread tagging in São Paulo, Chicana and feminist biking collectives in Los Angeles and first peoples-led rights of nature movement effectively engage in meaningful practices of citizenship including its social, economic, political, and cultural dimensions. From an interdisciplinary approach, we will address some of the ways in which urban social movements advance their class, race, gender, and environmental agendas via practices of insurgent citizenship.

     

    Section 002 (Hunter Morgan) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    Once Upon a Time: The Potency of Fairy Tales and the Magic of Book Arts

    “The incarnate mind, the tongue, and the tale are in our world coeval.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

    Why do we love fairy tales? They enchant, yes. But they do more than that as well. Hans Christian Anderson translator Erik Christian Haugaard said, “I know of no fairy tale which upholds the tyrant, or takes the part of the strong against the weak. A fascist fairy tale is an absurdity.” Angela Carter called the spirit of the fairy tale “heroic optimism.” Tolkien claimed, “It was in fairy-stories that I first divined the potency of words, and the wonder of the thing, such as stone, and wood, and iron; tree and grass, house and fire; bread and wine.” That these tales are full of loss, jealousy, and suffering in addition to stones, wood, and iron, make them real to us. That they generally end with what Tolkien described as sudden and miraculous grace is an assertion of the triumph of desire over dread. During this course, we will divine the potency of these tales, and we will discover the beauty of the book itself.

    This interdisciplinary course will combine fundamentals of literature, creative writing, and traditional book arts. We will think about what makes a fairy tale a fairy tale, and why we need, as Tolkien said, “to hold communion with other living things.” In addition to reading traditional tales, we’ll read contemporary or near contemporary re-tellings of old tales, and we’ll consider the role of fairy tales in film and poetry. Students will generate their own work (a connected series of poems or a list essay) and will learn how to make their own books to contain this work.
     

    RCAH390-Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Thobani) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.
    Translating Culture: Understanding Performance and Otherness in Cross-Cultural Contexts

    If, as scholars of performance studies suggest, artistic production and performance provide ways to communicate one’s cultural identity, what happens when these performances occur cross-culturally? That is, are performances such as those of music and dance universal in their ability to communicate, even when they originate in cultures marked as ‘different’? Can performance, as embodied practice, communicate that which is beyond language, or is it inseparable from language as a form of communication? What is the relationship between such performances and the ways in which entire cultures are defined and understood, especially in a context where ‘world’ music and dance draw such large followings? Taking these questions as our starting point, we will interrogate the relationship between communication and performance in relation to ‘Otherness’ by paying close attention to the politics of translation, interpretation, coded signification, and representation. 

     

    Section 002 (Plough) | Tu Th 8:00 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.
    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research is a general survey course of sociolinguistics and sociolinguistic research methodologies. Combining lecture, seminar, and fieldwork, the course introduces students to generating original data through ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, and written questionnaires. Quantitative and qualitative approaches are covered. Readings include sociolinguistic studies on different world languages. Throughout the course, the advantages and disadvantages of different methods are critically examined with attention to the relationship between sociolinguistic phenomena and the selection of a particular research methodology. Specific topics include language variation, language attitudes, and identities.

     

    Section 003 (Banzhaf) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
    The Origin of Language(s) and Culture(s)

    We will explore the origin, evolution, and characteristics of language(s) and culture(s) from a general linguistic and anthropological perspective with the help of other disciplines. Questions we will ponder are: What is a language? Why did the capacity for language evolve in the first place? What are the forces that govern language change? Do languages flavor how we think about the world around us? What can the study of human migration tell us about the evolution of language families? What differentiates evolved languages from constructed languages, like Esperanto, Elvish, or Klingon? What are the specifics of languages like sign-, whistling-, clicking-, and body language? Some languages are tonal, some aren’t. Some have scripts, some don’t. What kinds of script are there? What are possible reasons and their cultural consequences? To examine this jungle of questions in depth, we will apply a modified framework borrowed from animal behavior studies. In addition to these questions, the course will be driven by interests that students bring to the course. We will also welcome several visitors as representatives of different languages. As a final project, our class will create a digital map of possible language evolution paths.

     

    RCAH391-Independent Study

    Section 750 (Delgado,V) | (Arranged)
    Program on Sustainability in Costa Rica

    More information at:

    http://rcah.msu.edu/programs/education-away/costa-rica.html

     

    RCAH395-Special Topics in the Arts & Humanities

    Section 750 (Delgado,V) | (Arranged)
    Program on Sustainability in Costa Rica

    More information at:

    http://rcah.msu.edu/programs/education-away/costa-rica.html

     

    RCAH492-Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Scales) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.
    Who Owns Culture?: Cultural Property and Creativity in the Twenty-First Century

    In this course we will examine the legal, ethical, and cultural stakes related to current international conversations about intellectual property and cultural property and how these conversations will effect what Lawrence Lessig has called the “nature and future of creativity.”  In studying these issues we will ask such basic questions as:  What is the relationship between shared cultural knowledge and individual creativity?  Is it possible (or desirable) for a social group to “own” and “control” their cultural practices. Is there an inherent value for society in a “cultural commons,” and if so, how do we balance the ownership “rights” of individuals with those of larger communities?  These conversations are vital and immediate for RCAH students who are planning careers within the North American “creative economy.”  As such, the most important outcome of this course will be the development of some very real and tangible possible policy recommendations, research papers, or creative works that confront these issues in meaningful and socially helpful ways.

     

    Section 002 (Esquith) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
    When Words Lose Their Meaning

    Thucydides described the civil war in Corcyra in 427 BCE in his History of Peloponnesian Wars this way:

    “Irrational boldness was considered as manly loyalty to one’s partisans; prudent delay as specious cowardice, moderation as a disguise for unmanliness, and a well-rounded intelligence as a disqualification for action.” (3.82.4)

    Today, for some in the U.S., manliness is a coveted license to harass and assault women, others cling to it as a symbol of benign patriarchal responsibility, and still others reject it as a sexist anachronism. For some, “Make America Great Again” means generating greater economic power, while for others it is a thinly veiled threat to block refugees and purge the nation of its racial and ethnic diversity.

    In this seminar, first we’ll ask how we got into this fix. How has political language been degraded into a series of impulsive tweets?  How has power outgrown even the imperfect democratic institutions and norms that once held it somewhat in check? How have we learned to idolize superpower and demonize the other? To paraphrase Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, how have we learned to stop worrying and love the bomb?

    Second, what new forms of radical participation are afforded by social media, and what new dangers do these technologies create? To answer this question, we’ll consider some of the more promising moments in which democratic participation occurred, including recent protest movements in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

    Among the authors we’ll be reading are Sheldon S. Wolin, Zeynep Tufekci, and David Graeber.

Past Courses

  • 2017-18

    Fall 2017 Courses

     

    RCAH111- Writing Transcultural Contexts

     

    Section 001 (Plough) | M W 8:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.

    Intercultural Obligations

    The majority of the world is multilingual. The United States is the exception. The socio-political and economic reasons for this are critically reviewed. The consequences for society and for the individual are also examined before turning our attention to our own increasing experiences of intercultural collaboration in school and in the workplace. The challenges and opportunities of these interactions are discussed and then analyzed. For example, how do different cultures view the role of hierarchy in the decision-making process? What are the rules for direct and indirect communication? What is the protocol for conflict resolution? In the end, who is responsible for the ‘success’ of these interactions? These are among the questions we address in class discussions and in writing.

     

    Section 002 (Livingston) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

    The Art and Practice of Creative Nonfiction

    Creative Nonfiction is a growing field of literary study, defined by the practice of telling true stories. While writing accurate depictions of real people and events is one of the terms nonfiction writers agree upon, most of the genre’s other understandings are highly contested. What are the ethics of telling true stories? What responsibilities do writers have to their subjects and audiences? What are the boundaries of the genre and its sub-genres? In other words, what makes a piece of writing creative nonfiction and not journalism, poetry, blogging, or spoken word? This writing course invites you to study the craft of creative nonfiction writing, including memoir, personal narrative, literary journalism, and hybrid forms like lyric essays, audio essays, visual essays, zines, and blogs. In this reading and writing-intensive course, you will learn writing and storytelling practices that that allow you to craft a writing persona that is both uniquely yours and connects you to histories of creative nonfiction writers. We will read across genres and cultures, learning about the process of writing creative nonfiction from invention to publication. You will leave The Art and Practice of Creative Nonfiction with an edited portfolio of creative nonfiction writing.

     

    Section 003 (Aronoff) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Telling Stories: Composing Knowledges in Transcultural Contexts

    In this section of RCAH 111, we will focus on the connection between culture and “storytelling,” broadly conceived.  That is, we will examine the ways in which culture shapes the ways we perceive the world around us, and how we organize those perceptions into oral and written narratives – be they what we conventionally would call “stories” like personal narratives, myths or novels, or other genres like scientific, academic or philosophical writing, each with their own generic rules for the “stories” they tell.  Drawing primarily on short stories and novels, we will be particularly interested in what happens when different “cultures,” or ways of knowing and writing, collide, clash or mix, in a process we will call “transculturation.” In what ways, we will ask, does “culture” provide us with narratives, patterns, genres, through which we “shape” our experience into something meaningful? In what ways do we deploy, bend, mix these “stories”? If culture might be defined as a shared system of meanings through which one interprets the world, in what ways might the classroom constitute “a culture,” and what kinds of “stories” are employed therein?  In what ways are cultural “ways of knowing” embodied in (or constituted by, or complicated through) different genres of writing? What do each of these ways of knowing/writing/storytelling reveal or enable us to see, and what might they leave out? In what ways can certain kinds of writing or storytelling be seen as the mixing of, or struggle between, multiple systems of meaning or cultures? Possible course texts include Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony and/or Art Spiegelman’s Maus.

     

    Section 004 (Paula) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

    The Right to the City: Challenging Spatial Inequalities

    As 21st century cities all over the globe face unprecedented transformations such as mass immigration, rapid urbanization, growing inequality, racial segregation, gentrification, and climate change, we are compelled to think about the struggles over urban resources we are confronted with on a daily basis. By focusing on issues of social justice in its various relations to the city and the urban environment, this course intends to develop contextual understandings of urban struggles in a variety of settings. While engaging with interdisciplinary perspectives, this course will focus particularly on the social, political, and cultural aspects of the “right to the city” concept. With that in mind, this course will examine a variety of urban processes from the perspective of the “right to the city” and look at successful and unsuccessful examples of attempts to create more inclusive and less socially divided cities.

     

    Section 005 (Hunter-Morgan) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Edges & Intersections: How Writers Confront Cultural Contrast

    In this course, we will explore how various writers use cultural contrasts as scaffolding for their work. We’ll think about many kinds of cultural intersections, and we’ll read work that confronts places or moments when traditional binaries (rural and urban, East and West, North and South, homosexual and heterosexual) collide or blend. We’ll think about how writers handle racial, religious, and generational intersections, and we’ll discuss how many of these junctures are both personal and universal. We’ll examine how specific writers explore and acknowledge the complexity of “other,” and we’ll consider how the work we study might help us grow as readers, writers, and human beings. “Borders” are fascinating places, and many writers use the notion of edges – where one thing meets another – as a meaningful framework for their writing. We’ll read short fiction and essays by ZZ Packer, John Edgar Wideman, Sherman Alexie, Joan Didion, John McPhee, Wendell Berry, and others.

     

    Section 750 (Delgado, V) | Costa Rica Semester Program

    Sustainability & Civic Engagement in Costa Rica

    The writer David Simon once said: Well, you know, there's two ways of being a tourist. The first way is you get on the tour bus and the guide grabs the microphone and you drive down the streets that everyone has driven down before. And he tells you, you know, when this church was built and then you go in for 15 minutes and you come out again. And you go to the next country…And then there's the other, which is when you go somewhere for a while and you don’t have a tour guide, and you walk into the nearest bar or shebeen and you just be. And you start figuring out a place from the people up. Where we come from – our place – matters to all of us. And in the context of engaged travel, particularly in engaging in communities across Costa Rica, understanding places from the perspective of those that inhabit them also matters. So, what does it mean, then, to engage in a place? To be out of place? To be of a place? This course will consider and create reflective essays, narratives and poetry that challenge us to interrogate the idea of place: our homes, our communities and the places we dream about. Along the road, we’ll consider the work of activists, philosophers, essayists, poets and others to understand the power of place as a central organizing idea in efforts to affect positive social change and we will pay significant attention to where we come from as a critical lens that both reflects and refracts how we understand where we and others come from, how we build relationships and, ultimately, how we build change together.

     

    RCAH192-Proseminar

     

    Section 001 (Yoder) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.

    Private Faith and Public Life

    In the U.S. we seem to have a tenuous relationship with religion. On the one hand, officially the U.S. is a “secular” nation with no state religion and a constitution that guarantees the separation of church and state. On the other hand, in many ways we are a deeply religious nation. Surveys consistently suggest that a majority of citizens believe in God and religious institutions play important roles at the local and national level. We try to manage this tension by distinguishing between the public and private spheres of life, relegating religion to the latter, but this solution has been only partially successful as debates about matters such as the teaching intelligent design in public schools, public support for faith-based social services, and same-sex marriage demonstrate. The goal of this course is to explore the intersection of religious belief and public life.  We will explore the following sorts of questions: What does it mean to have a “secular” society? How do our religious beliefs shape how we respond to public issues? How should they? Does religious faith improve or harm our public lives? How can we talk respectfully and constructively about religion?

     

    Section 002 (Herliczek) | M W 5:00 p.m. – 6:20 p.m.

    Photography as Activism

    This class introduces students to photography as a tool for social change. We will study how photography evolved as a means of recording “reality,” and how human rights activists have used photography to document societal ills from immigrant slums and child labor, to the conservation movement and women’s rights. Documentary photography is instrumental in engaging the public in social movements and helping foster the empathy needed for societal change. We will study how photographic techniques, methods and styles have evolved as social justice movements have evolved, from the Civil Rights movement to Black Lives Matter, from the fight to establish National Parks to the stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline. We will research contemporary photographers and study their techniques in conceiving, funding, photographing, editing, publishing and marketing photography projects. Coursework will include readings, research into historical and contemporary photographers, practical exercises in the technical and creative processes of photography and conversations with visiting artists.  

     

    RCAH202-The Presence of the Past

     

    Section 001 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Global Slavery

    Starting with slavery in ancient times and working toward the present, this class looks at how various forms of involuntary servitude (conveniently all lumped together under the term “slavery”) have served as underpinnings for production of goods and services. We will look at the Atlantic World, but also the Indian Ocean World, and systems on the African continent to compare involuntary servitude across time and space. We will be looking at how these systems of involuntary labor differed and were similar—and debate whether they were all “slavery.” We will also examine how they contributed in ways large and small to the creation of the globalized world in which we live. The forces that led to the rise and fall of slavery have shaped our world in a wide variety of ways, and this course will help you interrogate the ways in which this is still important, and how debates over the legacy of slavery and reparations have been and continue to be contentious.

     

    Section 002 (Biggs) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Introduction to Theatre for Social Change

    Theatre artists have long taken up the charge of using performance to do more than entertain. Through song, dance, music, poetry, puppetry, monologue and scene work, actors, playwrights and directors have used the stage to engage audiences with stories about the most pressing issues facing their time. These issues often have deep roots in historical conflicts that continue to impact the communities where the artists live. Through performance, they work to understand and represent complex issues in ways that are smart, engaging and impactful to audiences. More than educating the public about an issue, often the end goal of this style of theatre is change -- at the individual, familial, institutional or societal level. 

    In this course on the history, theory and practice of theatre for social change, students will be exposed to a variety of approaches developed by grassroots artists in the U.S. for devising new work about social justice issues. Course work consists of discussions of assigned readings, research projects on individual artists, and hands-on, experiential learning workshops. The class culminates in an end of the semester performance opportunity in which students share original pieces about issues that are important to them.

    No previous acting, playwriting or performance experience required.

     

    Section 003 (Miner) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    The (Visual) Presence of the Past

    History is not dead! In fact, as humans we cannot escape the ‘presence of the past’ and the manner that history continues to shape our contemporary lives. In this course we will examine the past and investigate how looking at the past will better suit us to comprehend the present (and future). We will be particularly interested in how the past is represented in contemporary visual culture. Using visual culture as the site of inquiry, this course will investigate how and why the past influences our contemporary cultural, social, political, and ecological practices. Focusing on comics (or graphic novels) and documentary cinema, students will begin to see how the past remains germane in everyday activities and how we are individually and collectively active in constructing the past. In the process, we will see how certain ways of representing the past inform what we know about those events. 

     

    Section 004 (Bosse) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    African Music

    This course explores the contemporary musical practices of a number of cultural groups living across the African continent, with special consideration for how music serves as a sonic testimony to the cultural history of a people.  We will learn how performance in any particular moment provides us with a way to perform individual memories as well as a shared history and resignify them with present-day concerns. 

    Over the last centuries, African music has been received with much curiosity, confusion, romanticization, and misinformation among western audiences, perhaps moreso than any other type of music.  This history informs the way we learn about African music today, presenting challenges that the learner herself/himself may not comprehend. For this reason, our own exploration of various musical traditions of sub-Saharan Africa will take a multi-pronged approach.  Over the semester we will listen to, write about, talk about, read about, and perform the various genres in question. By moving beyond the more conventional “learning about” to “learning from within, ” it is my hope that each student (and I include myself in this category) can not only learn about particular African music genres, but also something about who he/she is as a learner, as a performer, and as a citizen of the world.  This approach also mirrors the processes through which ethnomusicologists approach their work. And so, in the process, students will also learn the intellectual habits of the ethnographic disciplines that they can add to their “intellectual tool kit” for use in any other learning contexts in which they may find themselves.

     

    Section 005 (Thobani) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Representing the Exotic: Sex, Gender and Culture in Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts

    This course introduces students to the politics of representation and cultural production by examining how gender and sexuality have been depicted in representations of the ‘exotic’.  How do we understand the relation between notions of the exotic, and formations of gender and sexuality? How have such representations shaped popular imaginaries from the colonial past to the ‘postcolonial’ present? In what ways have these representations changed/remained consistent over time? What kinds of ideas about cultural difference are embedded in notions of the ‘exotic’? Attending to these questions, students will learn how to apply an historical approach to account for the continuities and discontinuities between past and present ideas about the ‘exotic’.  Using specific examples, particular attention will be paid to how sex and gender have been represented in different regions of the ‘Orient’. We will also study the relations between different cultural contexts as we analyze examples of such cultural production from Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia.

     

    Section 750 (Delgado, V) | Costa Rica Semester Program

    Sustainability & Civic Engagement in Costa Rica

    Costa Rica, one of the founding nations of eco-tourism and a prime organizer of the Paris Climate Accord, recently announced that by 2021 it aspired to become one of the first countries in the world to become carbon neutral. The Central American nation currently uses renewable energy for 99% of its electrical needs and is rapidly developing light electric rail networks while erecting the additional wind turbines and solar panel systems to support them. These are remarkable achievements and a different direction for a country in one of the most challenged regions in the hemisphere. So why did Costa Rica chose such a path? This course will consider the development of Costa Rica’s commitment to sustainability through its ideas, history, literature, poetry and film. We’ll set the stage with some ethical frameworks in sustainable development, seek to understand the country’s founding in a relatively isolated area of the Central American isthmus and consider this in relationship to the early establishment of mutualist social movements across Latin America. We’ll look at the Costa Rica’s early history with coffee exportation and the United Fruit Company through the work of novelists such as Maria Isabel Carvajal Quesada (Bananos y Hombres, Cuentos de Mi Tia Panchita) and Joaquin Gutierrez (En el Aire, Cocori, and Puerto Limon). We’ll explore the nation’s decision to abolish its army in 1948 and invest in education, health and social welfare at the end of a bloody civil war through the work of poets such as Jorge DeBravo and important historians like John Patrick Bell and Rodolfo Cerdas, as well as, the classic Costa Rican novel Mamita Yunai by Carlos Luis “Calufa” Fallas. Finally, we will consider recent struggles for sustainability in the context of neoliberal ideas through the classic environmental novel La Loca de Gandoca by Anacristina Rossi (2003) and the film Quebrando Los Huevos de Oro (2011).

     

    RCAH291-Arts Workshops

     

    Section 001 (Claytor) | M W 8:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.

    Fundamentals of Drawing

    Fundamental concepts of drawing. Gain an understanding of how to craft complex objects from simple shapes, create dynamic environments through the use of linear perspective, and achieve a better understanding of the human figure. Emphasis on observational, descriptive and analytical drawing. Practice of drawing skills using common drawing media.

     

    Section 002 (Sheridan) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

    Advanced Media Production and Design

    This workshop will explore the social and aesthetic potentials of video- and print-based media. Content is tailored to students who already have a background in one or more areas of media production. Students will generate creative and socially meaningful projects, exploring fundamental principles of design in the process. We will also investigate strategies for critiquing the work of others. This class will provide excellent preparation for anyone who wishes to work in the RCAH Language and Media Center.

     

    Section 003 (Scales) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    The Music of Southern Appalachia

    Appalachian communities have a rich and deep musical tradition that has played a unique role in the musical, political, and social life of America.  In this class, students will engage with this tradition through the first hand participation in the music, performing “old-time” string band music, ballad singing, shape-note singing, and more.  We will also examine the many social functions of the music in American public life, including its influence on other contemporary musical genres (bluegrass, country, folk and protest music), its connection with American leftist politics in the 20th century, and its central role in the public imagination of “authentic” American identity.  Some background in music is recommended (but not required).

     

    Section 004 (Newman) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Dance as Human Experience

    Why do humans have an innate impulse to move, to dance? Through observation and exploration, students begin with a personal journey, from noticing ordinary movement to recognizing the extraordinary choices and possibilities that dance offers. Relationships to the broader context of history, culture, communication, social issues, and aesthetics are realized over the arc of experience. Students in this class can expect to move, to discover, to create, to write. They will learn to recognize dance/movement as an everyday tool by which humans experience and interpret life. No previous dance experience necessary.

     

    Section 005 (Biggs) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

    Acting Fundamentals

    The goal of this class is to awaken the imagination and intellect of the student actor to make them more aware of the transformative power of theatre and the role of the arts in human society.  The craft of acting requires disciplined use of the body, including the voice and the mind, to uncover the meaning and vision of a play. Practice in close reading skills will prepare students to unearth the text, subtext, style and genre of dramatic texts. Regular on-your-feet workshops in various contemporary acting techniques, and practice in solo and group scene work will deepen their self-knowledge so they might represent these stories in open, honest and believable ways. Opportunities to explore performing using plays largely drawn from the 20th and 21st centuries (since 1960) will expose students to the felt history of recent human experience. By the end of the semester, students will have cultivated a greater sense of themselves, learned to listen and collaborate with others deeply, and gained new perspectives on human culture and their own potential.

     

    RCAH292A-Engagement Proseminar

     

    Section 001 (Brooks) | Tu 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Holistic Citizenship: Living and Working in Engaged Communities

    This proseminar is an introduction to civic engagement and explores the concepts of cultural heritage and community, using an interdisciplinary approach. Employing theories and methodologies from the arts and humanities, as well as incorporating methods from the social and natural sciences, students will read and discuss an assortment of written and visual texts (artwork, writings, film, etc.) to facilitate learning and to enhance critical thinking. In addition, students will complete experiential learning exercises that build relationships with civic organizations and work toward improving personal and community health/wellness. More specifically, this course will assist students with developing an understanding of the various types of civic engagement activities in relation to the RCAH model on civic engagement (insight, practice, action, passion). Students will be challenged to critically assess perceptions of community, equity, collaboration, and reflection. Then, students will be asked to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate existing and new ways of performing civic engagement that improves individuals, families, communities, and humanity.

     

    RCAH292B-Engagement and Reflection

     

    Section 001 (Whitney) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

    Nonprofit Arts and Innovation: Community Engagement through Experiential Learning

    Designed to provide authentic field experiences in conjunction with academic study, this course has a primary focus on arts and cultural non-profit management with an introduction to social entrepreneurism. This course will offer individual students a behind-the-scenes perspective at the site of community arts or cultural organizations and an opportunity to gain knowledge, skills, and connections. These professional learning experiences will foster a mutually beneficial working relationship between students and community partners. Class sessions will feature several expert guest speakers and examine aspects of arts and cultural nonprofit organizations, such as: vision, leadership, innovation, and the discipline within day-to-day operations integral to making a mission a reality. 

     

     Section 002 (Delgado, G.) | Tu 12:40 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

     Prison Poetry ‘Zine Project

    This civic engagement course allows students to create and practice arts workshops in prisons. Students will explore the power of the arts and its potential as a tool to create positive social change. Through the ‘zine genre and weekly visits to a prison, students will share and practice various poetic forms and creative strategies with incarcerated communities. The works of writers, who began writing in prison, including Jimmy Baca Santiago and Etheridge Knight, will be introduced and examined. At the end of the semester, students will plan a culminating event to celebrate the poetry ‘zines created by all.

     

    Section 003 (Torrez) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

    Mano a Mano: [Re]claiming nuestra education

    Michigan’s high school graduation rates are improving overall at 79%, however the current rate for Latinx students is around 69%. In an effort to be proactive in addressing this disparity, and respond to the voices of the district’s Latinx students and families, the Lansing School District (LSD) has created a program to prepare its students for graduation and for their future endeavors. Each LSD high school has created a leadership team of Latinx students who will lead this initiative at the grassroots level. This leadership group will be the voice of this effort, developing the programming, communicating opportunities with their peers and researching the impact of the project. In this course, RCAH students will work alongside Lansing School District Latinx high school students to develop district wide programming addressing student identified needs.

     

    RCAH292C-Independent Engagement

     

    Section 001

    Independent Engagement

    292C courses are unique, independent engagements of variable credit negotiated between students, community partners, and RCAH faculty. They assume that the student and the community have established a relationship of mutual respect, trust, and benefit. They also assume a high level of passion and experience. These courses focus heavily on the action and insight areas of the RCAH Civic Engagement model. Students select and work with a specific faculty of record and community partner to develop and implement the syllabus and the engagement program for the course.

     

    RCAH320-Art and Public Life

     

    Section 001 (Hamilton-Wray) | M W 10:20a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

    Art and Public Life: Film for Social Change

    The general aim of this course is to explore the relationship of film and national cinemas to various nationalisms, nation building, and national identity construction. Students will develop and hone a background in global film history and film theory to investigate issues specific to a nation’s cinema and politics.

     

    RCAH330-Nature and Culture

     

    Section 002 (Skeen) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

    Appalachian Literature and Culture

    The primary goal of this course is to explore the history of the Appalachian region through looking at documentary and popular film, scholarly and personal essays, and the work of poets and fiction writers from Appalachia.  As West Virginia is the only state completely in the Appalachian region, we will focus our study on the literature and culture of that state and learn how it is both representative of and different from other areas of Appalachia.  We will work to comprehend the richness of this region, past and present, and explore the themes of regional folklore and music, fine art and local craft, the power of religious and family tradition, and isolation and community. For students who would like to spend a little time in Appalachia (for an additional cost of approximately $300) the course will include a four-day excursion to West Virginia near the end of September for a weekend of regional history and culture.

     

    RCAH380-Third Year Tutorial

     

    Section 001 (Aronoff) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.

    Imagining Other Worlds: The Literature and Neuroscience of Science-Fictional Worldbuilding

    This course will pick up on and examine more rigorously one of the major themes touched on in my RCAH 340: Fictions of Science and Technology:  ideas of anthropology, culture and race explored through key texts of science fiction in the 20th and early 21st Centuries.  (As such, the course would be an ideal follow-up for students who have taken my RCAH 340, or a “prequel” for those planning to take it in the future, but there is no prerequisite and students just beginning to explore issues in science fiction are welcome.)  We will examine the ways in which the “world building” techniques characteristic of much science fiction – creating coherent, detailed imaginary worlds (and even universes), with their own histories, languages, “cultures,” species – has both drawn upon, and participated in, anthropological understandings of the very concept of “culture” and “race” itself. We will examine concrete connections between the discipline of anthropology and science fiction, and ways science fiction writers have explored, developed, reinforced or challenged ideas of culture, language, race and gender. Assigned authors will include Ursula LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Neal Stephenson, Nalo Hopkinson, and others.  

     

    Section 002 (Hamilton-Wray) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Identities and Cinema

    This tutorial sets out to investigate the historical, social, political, and economic factors impacting film production within specific contexts, and inquire into how those films and film practices impact audiences and popular culture. This tutorial looks at the history of marginalized populations in cinema, with particular focus on Blacks in the United States, and some global examples. Students develop group projects related to the course content.

     

    Section 003 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 2:40 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

    Decolonization

    What was colonialism? What does it mean to ‘decolonize?’ Was this an event or a process? Is it complete today, or is it an ongoing goal? How do questions of the indigenous and indigeneity play into efforts to decolonize spaces in the 21st century?

    380 is a research seminar and in it, we as a class will start by interrogating the idea of colonization/decolonization by reading some 20th century thinkers like Frantz Fanon and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, as well as some pieces by 21st century thinkers on the nature of decolonization and the decolonization of knowledge. We will also use contemporary pieces of art and historical films to better think through these concepts.

    After we start with these common readings, the class will then turn to defining your individual topics. These research projects do not necessarily have to address issues of decolonization, though they often involve deconstructing what we know about a particular topic. The range of topics available to research is limited only by your time and imagination. The class culminates in a significant research project that will produce a paper, a creative work based in research, or a digital/multi-media presentation grounded in academic literature.

    The goal of the class is to introduce students to the process of doing research, and to help through design and carry out a significant project.

     

    RCAH390-Language and Culture

     

    Section 001 (Plough) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research is a general survey course of sociolinguistics and sociolinguistic research methodologies. Combining lecture and seminar formats, the course introduces students to language variation, pragmatics, and language socialization. The relationships between language and attitudes, identities, and social networks are also explored. Readings of studies on world languages focus on a critical examination of the relationship between sociolinguistic phenomena and research methodology as well as the extent to which verbal behavior varies across languages and cultures. In-class activities are used to explicate sociolinguistic concepts. Throughout the course, research validity is emphasized in preparation for the class project in which students work in groups to conduct an empirical sociolinguistic research study. This requires students to 1) formulate a meaningful research question; 2) identify sources of data to answer the question; 3) determine a suitable method of data collection; 4) collect, analyze, and interpret the data; and 5) report results.

     

    Section 002 (Torrez) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

    Education in a Multilingual Community

    In this course, we will investigate issues of language attrition and revitalization. We will focus on how language is affected by educational policy, particularly through the emergence (and transformation) of bilingual education. Through seminar-style learning we will discuss the following questions: How does one evaluate the importance of a language? What is a heritage language, and how does one learn their heritage language? Should resource-strapped educational systems expend funds to provide multilingual education? How does one foster a plurilinguistic space? In addition to these questions, students will investigate how schools are working with heritage language communities to become active agents in maintaining language and protecting their community’s way of life.

       *Consider for ILO

     

    RCAH395-Special Topic-Arts & Humanities

     

    Section 001 (Baibak) | Tu  Th 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

    Cultures of Creativity

    The Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, in collaboration with the College of Engineering, have developed a hybrid program to work collaboratively on community-based projects that require innovation and creative solutions. They will be teaming up with Peckham Industries to work on a project that started in Spring 2016 and will continue into the fall semester 2017. It will be a sustainability course that will take place both at Michigan State University and the Peckham farms. MSU students and Peckham team members will have the immersive and transformative experience of constructing a straw bale building/form, using earth materials gleaned from MSU farms, Peckham farms, and/or surrounding farms of Mid-Michigan. They will work with Doug Delind, and also have the opportunity to learn from one of MIchigan's leaders in the practice of straw bale construction, Deanne Bednar, of Oxford, Michigan (www.strawbalestudio.org).

     

    Section 750 (Delgado, V) | Costa Rica Semester Program (RCAH395, RCAH292A, RCAH292B)

    Sustainability & Civic Engagement in Costa Rica

    The concept of sustainable development came into prominence in the late 1980s as world leaders wrestled with how to alleviate poverty through economic development without compromising the environment. In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Costa Rica is widely known both for its efforts towards sustainable development. It is the most visited country in Central America, welcoming over 2 million visitors in 2011, and it is renowned for its biodiversity and natural resources. Thus, it is not surprising that sustainable development is a critical component of the country’s overall development strategy. For 
instance, Costa Rica was one of the first countries to embrace ecotourism and has recently pioneered a new type of tourism -- rural community tourism, which seeks to build capacity in rural communities and protect ecological corridors, place-based cultivation practices and watersheds at the same time.  In this program, students will combine the study and practice of Spanish language with the ethics of sustainable development and civic engagement. During the initial eight weeks, students will live with Costa Rican host families in the central valley town of Santa Ana, attend classes at CONVERSA, a Spanish school overlooking Costa Rica’s capital San Jose and visit several tourism sites around the country. While in class, they will improve language skills and learn about civic engagement, frameworks for community-based participatory research, creativity and innovation, the ethics of sustainable development and the various forms such development takes in Costa Rica. During the next seven weeks, students will gain a more intimate knowledge of these issues as they live with host families in rural areas across the country and work with partner communities on small development projects using the RCAH Engagement Model, community input facilitation methodologies and community-based participatory research/creative/innovative processes.

     

    RCAH492-Senior Seminar

     

    Section 001 (Monberg) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

    The Art(s) of Counter-Memory: Collective Geographies of History in Literature, Film, and Other Stories

    History and public memory encourage us to both remember the past and ensure that we will further that remembering. But how might other forms of storytelling prompt us to remember differently? In this seminar, we will look to Asian/American literature, film, and other forms of storytelling that sustain forms of counter-memory. By narrating multiple, diverse, and sometimes competing versions of the past, these storytelling forms reveal forms of making and narrating history that are performed in everyday spaces and places. We will ask, what histories are these storytelling forms remembering or retelling? What methods do these works use to juxtapose stories and counterstories of the past? How do these representations of the past complicate common understandings of family, community, time, and space? In what ways do these stories position the reader/viewer not just as a passive recipient of these histories but also as an active agent of history, a person who can further the remembering?

     

     

    Spring 2018 Courses

     

    RCAH112-Writing Research Technologies

     

    Section 001 (Hamilton-Wray) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Writing Research Technologies: Daughters of the Screen

    This course looks at the social, political, economic, and artistic implications of black female-centered image production. We will use various film theories to investigate this cinema and to better understand its roles in society. Using the media literacy developed in the class, students will create an in-depth study of alternative forms of media.

     

    Section 002 (Aronoff) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Our America:  Cultures of American Modernism, 1919-1930

    The focus of this section of RCAH 112 is the idea of “American culture” as it is renegotiated and reimagined in the United States in the 1920s and 30s. More accurately, we might say we are investigating shifts in “American” “culture,” since, we will discover, both of these terms – what it means to be an “American” and what it means to “have culture” – undergo crucial and complex shifts in this period.  As many scholars have observed, Americans in the post-WWI era were intensively searching to define a specifically American cultural identity. On one hand, Americans experienced the pride and economic prosperity that came from their emergence from WWI as a world power, while also struggling with the social and philosophical questions about the very nature of modern industrial civilization the War brought with it.  At the same time, unprecedented waves of new immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe reached U.S. shores, and new social and political movements -- labor unions, socialism and communism, the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan and the upsurge in racial violence -- created a sense of social instability and rapid change. In response to what were perceived as new conditions, writers, artists, politicians, and social scientists sought new ways   -- from the Immigration Act of 1924 to Van Wyck Brooks' calls to find a "usable past” -- to define what was specifically "American" about America, to create new versions of American identity. 

    But even as American writers and critics in the ‘20s attempted to redefine the content of a particularly “American” culture, the form of culture as a concept – what counted as “culture” –  was itself undergoing radical transformations. While in the 19th Century “culture” designated a universal hierarchy of artistic or intellectual achievement – Matthew Arnold's "the best that has been thought and said," or, within the field of ethnology, E.B. Tylor’s evolutionary stages of development – in the 1920s and 30s, alongside and in tension with these previous definitions, “culture” is broadly reconceived as an entire “way of life” that is relative, plural, and above all “whole,” “unified” and “meaningful.”

    This section, then, will examine debates over “American” culture, race, national identity and art in the modernist period.  Looking at various primary documents, with particular attention to the arts (modernist poetry, literature, jazz and other media), we will ask:  how do these texts imagine the relationship between “race,” “nation,” and “culture”? How do these constructions engage debates over immigration, assimilation and pluralism?  What is the relationship between racial and /or cultural identity and political identity (or citizenship)? What is the relationship between “culture,” art, and new modes technologies? Is industrialism and its methods the end of “culture” as “high art,” or the beginning of a new kind of “culture”?  How did new forms of artistic expression (broadly speaking, “modernist” art) respond to, challenge, or incorporate these new social conditions? We will then think about how these modernist debates reverberate in contemporary, 21st Century contexts, in questions of transnational migration, national identity, cultural “ownership” and authenticity, etc. The breadth of these questions will allow for a wide variety of approaches and specific interest:  like all sections of 112, we will be able to pursue the burning questions we raise by developing our skills as researchers and writers.

     

    Section 003 (Sheridan) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

    The Production of Culture

    This class focuses on the ways that the analytical and creative work of the arts and humanities can help to solve real-world problems.  The premises of this course are: (1) that forms of cultural expression (such as stories, videos, performances, music, etc.) can be powerful tools of social change; and (2) that all of us are potentially producers of these forms.  Accordingly, students will begin by identifying a cultural problem — something they would like to see changed in the world. They will analyze the way the problem is embodied in popular culture (e.g., movies, music, websites). Finally, they will devise their own "cultural interventions": movies, music, websites, and other compositions aimed at addressing the cultural problem in question.

     

    Section 004 (Hunter Morgan) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

    The Role of Research in Creative Writing

    In this course, we’ll explore the role of research in contemporary literature, and we’ll consider how investigating one subject can help a writer explore another subject that might be more personal, more meaningful, or more difficult to approach. We’ll concentrate on the essay, but we’ll also evaluate the role of research in poetry and short fiction. We’ll think about how one writer uses science to talk about emotions, and how Jonathan Franzen uses a comic strip – Charles Schultz’s Peanuts – to explore his childhood. We’ll consider how David Foster Wallace uses a lobster festival in Maine to address larger issues of history, ethics and morality. We’ll read an essay about breaking out of a locked car trunk and think about how the piece functions as a how-to manual as well as a personal essay. Students will research subjects in fields outside of writing (for example, how the telescope at the MSU Observatory works or how a self-driving car makes difficult decisions) to write about something more personal (for example, the galactic distance they feel between themselves and others, or a car accident for which they were responsible). Students will choose their own subjects to research but will use assigned reading as models of how they might scaffold their work. Central to this thinking and this course is the recognition that curiosity and research are intertwined with creative writing.

     

    Section 005 (Yoder) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

    Researching and Writing about Ethical Issues

    While questions in bioethics are often considered to be very personal, they are also at the heart of many public controversies.  In this course we will use both public and scholarly reflection on bioethical issues to deepen our understanding of the practice of research and writing in the humanities.  We will use this material in order to increase our understanding of 1) what it means to do research in the humanities, 2) how to use writing as a means of inquiry, 3) how to evaluate and construct arguments, and 4) how to conduct and present a research project in the humanities.  Each student will produce a thesis-driven research paper on a relevant topic of their choice, a project utilizing an alternative format for presenting the results of their research, and a writing portfolio documenting both these final products and the processes used to produce them. 

     

    RCAH192-Proseminar

     

    Section 001 (Biggs) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Gender As Performance

    How is gender a performance? What can be gained in our understanding of human societies by disentangling “gender” from “biological sex”? What happens if we challenge the notion that there are set, fixed and unchanging ways of being a “man” or a “woman,” “boy” or “girl,” “masculine” or “feminine”? How is gender constructed and maintained through performance? How can performances also reveal, disrupt, challenge and dismantle sexism, homophobia and other problematic power relations?  

    This course offers an introduction to gender studies with an emphasis on exploring contemporary ideas about gender and sexuality through the lens of performance. Unlike a traditional theatre course which might focus heavily on scripted texts (plays, dramas, musicals), in this course, we start from the premise that human beings use performances -- ranging from the artistic to the cultural to the everyday -- to create culture all the time and everywhere. To understand the politics and practices of gender performance in our times, students will read performance, feminist and queer theory; study published plays and films that investigate gender and sexuality; and develop their own short performance pieces in response to instructor prompts. The conceptual frameworks students will gain over the course of the semester will help them analyze the embedded gender narratives that animate our lives, and, shape our world. No previous acting or other performance experience required.

     

    Section 002 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

    Urban Renewal and the African-American Community in Lansing

    This course is an introduction for students to ideas of renewal and change, development and progress. These terms all seemingly have positive connotations, but they have also in American history concealed violence and histories of community dispossession. Most of the “urban renewal” projects of the 1960s, including freeway construction and the creation of housing projects, involved cutting swaths through African-American and other poor/marginalized communities. This was true for the Lansing area, and its Interstate 496 project.

    This class will look at some of those histories to better understand how discourses of progress and social programs purporting to serve poor populations have been used to displace as well. We will also be working with digital humanities professionals from across campus and a collection of photographs that the Historical Society of Greater Lansing has to create a digital recreation of the African-American neighborhood that was razed to create Lansing’s modern transportation network. The project will focus on what was there, what is there today, and how various groups and individuals understood the changes taking place.

     

    Section 003 (Lam) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Laughing Fit to Kill: Dark Humor in American Literature and Culture

    Why do humans often laugh at the misfortunes of others? How does cruelty serve as material for our amusement? Comedy has been a genre of literature, speech, and performance for millennia, but there has been an abundance of so-called "dark humor" in the last two centuries—especially in the U.S. In an era of world wars, revolutions, nuclear conflicts, and environmental disasters, many writers have turned to satire, parody, and other forms of comedy to contemplate violence. Are they escapists? Apathetic? Cruel? Philosophers? This course will survey a broad range of American writers, thinkers, and performers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, following the theme and genre of “dark humor.” In addition to exploring different genres (fiction, film, poetry, stand-up) and movements (modernism, postmodernism), we will ask how American writers use comedy to respond to cultural problems such as war, sexism, racism, and inequality. We will ask: Why has the Holocaust been such fertile ground for comedians? Why do we laugh at jokes that are in "bad taste”? Why are Nazis and policemen fodder for so much comedy? We will also look at several theories of comedy and laughter, and we will strive to take comedy seriously (but not too seriously). In addition to viewing comedy as a genre across various media, we will study its role in everyday life and culture, paying attention to our own senses of humor and habits of consumption.

     

    RCAH203-Transcultural Relations

     

    Section 001 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Transcultural Relations: African Leisure and Nationalism in the 20th Century

    This course examines histories of leisure to interrogate concepts of nationalism and citizenship. How were leaders attempting to harness leisure to create national communities, and how did people respond to these efforts? How did African sport and leisure get so intertwined with international politics that they became venues for protesting apartheid South Africa, fighting racial discrimination, and having African-derived or produced music and films becoming cultural lynchpins in societies across the globe? These questions will drive our examination of particular cases from African History, as we look at how debates over citizenship and nationalism have played out in different national and cultural settings. We will compare these cases across time and space to see how people have defined inclusion and exclusion within ethnic groups, national boundaries, and national citizenship. The course will look at cases across the continent, ranging from the early 20th century to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

     

    Section 002 (Paula) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Crime Fiction in the Americas

    Whether in the literature or in mass media, narratives of crime produce a discursive register of different forms of violence that supplies to the collective imaginary general portrayals of society. Yet, the representation of particular socio-cultural contexts can offer provocative discussions that complicate the debate about violence and representation. In this course we will study the origins of crime fiction and its development in the Americas through literature and film. We will critically examine the ways in which writers and filmmakers in the United States and in Latin American have adapted and rewritten the conventions of the detective genre and explore its influence in film. Some of the topics we will address include the central role of urban space in crime fiction, the changes in the genre’s use of social and political critique, and the development of gender and race representation in film and fiction.

     

    Section 003 (Thobani) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

    Migration and Diaspora Through the Arts

    In this course, we study the relationships among and between ‘homelands’, ‘diasporas’ and ‘host nations’ by focusing on art and cultural production. In what ways do ‘cultures’ shift and change as diasporic communities migrate and settle in their new locations? How are the cultures of the homeland, diaspora, and host nation reproduced over time? How does the relationship between these three sites affect diasporic cultural production, and how is it shaped by such production in turn? What can the study of diasporic art reveal about identity formation in the context of migration? Taking examples from music, dance, cinema, fashion, literature and the visual arts, we will explore the many ways in which diasporic identity is produced and expressed in different locations. We will also interrogate questions of cultural belonging, nostalgia, ‘authenticity’, and essentialism. Rather than limit the focus to one particular diasporic community, our aim in this course is to study the connections that exist between and across different cultural groups in the transnational present.

     

    Section 750 (Delgado, V) | Costa Rica Semester Program

    Sustainability & Civic Engagement in Costa Rica

    Costa Rica, one of the founding nations of eco-tourism and a prime organizer of the Paris Climate Accord, recently announced that by 2021 it aspired to become one of the first countries in the world to become carbon neutral. The Central American nation currently uses renewable energy for 99% of its electrical needs and is rapidly developing light electric rail networks while erecting the additional wind turbines and solar panel systems to support them. These are remarkable achievements and a different direction for a country in one of the most challenged regions in the hemisphere. So why did Costa Rica chose such a path? This course will consider the development of Costa Rica’s commitment to sustainability through its ideas, history, literature, poetry and film. We’ll set the stage with some ethical frameworks in sustainable development, seek to understand the country’s founding in a relatively isolated area of the Central American isthmus and consider this in relationship to the early establishment of mutualist social movements across Latin America. We’ll look at the Costa Rica’s early history with coffee exportation and the United Fruit Company through the work of novelists such as Maria Isabel Carvajal Quesada (Bananos y Hombres, Cuentos de Mi Tia Panchita) and Joaquin Gutierrez (En el Aire, Cocori, and Puerto Limon). We’ll explore the nation’s decision to abolish its army in 1948 and invest in education, health and social welfare at the end of a bloody civil war through the work of poets such as Jorge DeBravo and important historians like John Patrick Bell and Rodolfo Cerdas, as well as, the classic Costa Rican novel Mamita Yunai by Carlos Luis “Calufa” Fallas. Finally, we will consider recent struggles for sustainability in the context of neoliberal ideas through the classic environmental novel La Loca de Gandoca by Anacristina Rossi (2003) and the film Quebrando Los Huevos de Oro (2011).

     

    RCAH291-Arts Workshop

     

    Section 001 (Delgado, G.) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

    The Art of Walking: Ways to Wander

    This interdisciplinary arts course looks at walking as a medium for creativity. Through mindful walking, students will explore how to drift and engage the mind, heart, and body with the spaces they navigate every day. Students will wander to make new works of art by listening, drawing, painting, photographing, writing, and mapping. Throughout the course, students will explore the walking praxis of artists and thinkers, including Henry David Thoreau, Rebecca Solnit, Mary Oliver, Thich Nhat Hanh, Barry Lopez, Gabriel Orozco, and avant-garde artists group Situationist International.

     

    Section 002 (Baibak and Pia Banzhaf) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

    Puppet Power

    In Puppet Power we will explore the subversive imaginary, even uncanny in puppet performances as well as the strength of puppets in questioning reality and perception. We will examine the puppet metaphor in literature and film as well as the cognitive science findings about the human urge to ascribe animacy to inanimate objects. We will tap into the unique human capability of sharing attention while using the powerful devices inherent to puppetry arts. In this course, we will learn about puppet-making methods, collaborative manipulation of various types of puppets, and tricks of the trade. Theory and practice will go hand in hand while we strive to find the perfect link between types of puppets, constructed set elements, and the information needed, (script, music, etc.) to complete a production, from storyboard beginnings to the creation of a performance.

     

    Section 003 (Hunter-Morgan) | T  3:00 p.m. – 6:50 p.m.

    Book Arts

    Ever want to print your own poem or story the way it was done 100 years ago? To make your own book? To collaborate on a book? If so, join a writer, a printer, a bookbinder, and a book historian in a semester long workshop where you learn about both the books you read and the books you make. You'll get to spend some time in the Special Collections at the MSU Library looking at, and touching, books that are hundreds of years old at well as learning about the library's collection of contemporary artists' books. Hand set type in the art studio, work with visiting artists who might specialize in anything from papermaking to medieval book bindings, and, in the end, make your own books.  Each semester’s course will have a different thematic or structural focus.

     

    Section 004 (Scales) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

    Digital Recording and Music Production

    This class involves the creation and recording of music through creative engagement with various music technologies including digital recording systems, sound synthesis software, and audio/video production software.  We will also examine the effects of new music technologies on the cultures of music making and music listening. Student will also learn about live sound recording and engineering, including the use of various kinds of microphones, microphone placements, and some of the basic principles of acoustics.

     

    Section 005 (Miner) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

    Art and Ecology in the Great Lakes

    In this arts workshop, students will think about the Great Lakes as a cultural and ecological phenomena that includes the arts. Students will explore the ecologies, cultural histories, and lifespan of the Great Lakes region. As I posed in a recent book chapter: ‘what would happen if we re-mapped our society, not using colonial cartographic systems, but re-imagined our relationships to both the land and one another.’ This class is about that remapping. It is about re-relating to this place and to one another through artmaking.  It is about beginning to understand this place we call Michigan. During the course we will understand our relationship to the land itself and the various animate beings and inanimate objects with which we share it. In addition to meeting in the RCAH art studio, this course will also meet at Fenner Nature Center. Collaborative and socially engaged models will be at the core of this experience. Projects may utilize low tech printmaking techniques (screen print, relief print, photocopying, risograph, etc.) to create artists’ books, zines, mapmaking, and site-specific projects.

     

    Section 006 (Biggs) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Performance Project

    This course aims to provide students with tools and methodologies for identifying and accessing source materials for making original theatre, dance and/or performance art. Coursework will investigative the creative processes of several established artists as models. Students will have extensive opportunities to explore their processes through on-your-feet performance technique and devising workshops, including opportunities to create solo and group pieces. The course culminates in a final performance of student works for invited audience members in the RCAH Theatre. No previous acting, playwriting or dance experience required.

     

    RCAH292A-Engagement Proseminar

     

    Section 001 (Esquith) | Tu 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

    Peace Building

    The focus of this introduction to civic engagement is peace building, that is, how we can reduce violent conflict both globally and locally through civic engagement. What can we as citizens do to mitigate violence and encourage more non-violent forms of dialogue and discussion among opposing groups? Peace building is not utopian. It does not aspire to rid the world of conflict. Its goal is to lessen the levels of violence in the context of continuing conflicts, disagreements, and compromises.

    Two of the earliest modern peace builders in the US were Jane Addams and Myles Horton. Addams worked in the neighborhoods of Chicago where many first-generation immigrants came to live in the early 20th century. This local work described in Twenty Years at Hull Houseinformed her important contributions to international peace and justice. Horton began his work, as described in his autobiography, The Long Haul, began with union organizing in the mountains of Appalachia and led him to the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ‘60s. Their memoirs remain relevant to us today, as we struggle to build peace in a world plagued with violent conflicts at home and abroad.

    After acquainting ourselves with Addams and Horton, we will consider how their ideas and the ideas of their successors can be applied today through the concepts and categories of Transformative Change: An Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies. Then, students will have the opportunity to work on special peace building projects with young people through the Lansing Refugee Development Center (RDC) and Peckham, Inc., two long time partners of RCAH. These projects will include a political simulation (the RDC Game or the Peckham “Crossroads” Peace Game) and collaborative storytelling, poetry, and memoir writing.

     

    Section 002 (Monberg) | Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Serving versus Sustaining Communities

    This proseminar prepares students for civic engagement in the RCAH and beyond by exploring the differences between serving a community and sustaining one over time. The United States, in particular, has a “distinct culture” of nonprofit and community-based organizations that depend on volunteerism (Stewart and Casey 2013). While volunteerism has its place in community-based work, it often privileges a short-term commitment and a short-term understanding of communities. This course introduces students to a deeper understanding of how communities change over time as well as methods for community building. Students will also build on the work of previous 292A courses to create a community-based infrastructure for sustaining stories of Asians/Asian Americans in the Midwest.

     

     

    RCAH292B-Engagement and Reflection

     

    Section 001 (Delgado,G) | Tu  12:40 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

    Prison Poetry ‘Zine Project

    This civic engagement course allows students to create and practice arts workshops in prisons. Students will explore the power of the arts and its potential as a tool to create positive social change. Through the ‘zine genre and weekly visits to a prison, students will share and practice various poetic forms and creative strategies with incarcerated communities. The works of writers, who began writing in prison, including Jimmy Baca Santiago and Etheridge Knight, will be introduced and examined. At the end of the semester, students will plan a culminating event to celebrate the poetry ‘zines created by all.

     

    Section 002 (Hamilton-Wray) | Tu Th  12:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

    Narrative Portraits 

    In this course, students explore everyday autobiography history, spoken narratives and storytelling in partnership with members of greater Lansing-based communities. Together with the civic engagement partners, the class looks at how “stories” or “narratives” connect to various cultural, political and social expressions and explore how stories can help define and build community. Students produce narrative portraits in visual, written and audio forms.

     

    Section 003 (Brooks) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Health and Wellness in Our Communities

    This course on engagement and reflection assists students with developing a deeper understanding of civic engagement and cultivates a fervent commitment to improving personal and community health and wellness. Students will be introduced to issues and challenges affecting the health and well-being of our communities. Using an interdisciplinary approach from the arts, humanities, and social sciences, this course explores the historical, physiological, psychological, spiritual, social, environmental, and occupational forces influencing our health behaviors and lifestyle choices. Topics explored consist of historical and cultural perspectives on health/wellness, psycho-social challenges to healthy living, environmental concerns, chronic diseases, alternative interventions and resources, and health policy studies. The goals of this course are to improve health literacy, draw attention to health disparities, and encourage greater participation in physical activity.

     

    RCAH292C-Independent Engagement

     

    Section 001

    Independent Engagement

    292C courses are unique, independent engagements of variable credit negotiated between students, community partners, and RCAH faculty. They assume that the student and the community have established a relationship of mutual respect, trust, and benefit. They also assume a high level of passion and experience. These courses focus heavily on the action and insight areas of the RCAH Civic Engagement model. Students select and work with a specific faculty of record and community partner to develop and implement the syllabus and the engagement program for the course.

     

    RCAH310-Childhood and Society

     

    Section 001 (Torrez) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    Engaging with Children and Young People

    The RCAH curriculum underscores the importance of reciprocal education, which encourages students to engage in the co-production of knowledge with community partners.  In doing so, many students are interested in working with children and youth. This course prepares students to work with children from diverse communities in the co-production of knowledge. Prior to working with communities, however, RCAH students must consider the complex societal issues directly impacting the lives of their young collaborators. Accordingly, this course will focus on ways to engage children, the impacts of applying terms such as ‘at-risk’ to communities, and how to maintain a symbiotic and collaborative relationship. Finally, we will discuss possible assessment models to evaluate community impact.

     

    Section 002 (Skeen) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

    The World of Harry Potter

    Who is Harry Potter and why has he become the phenomenon he has?  What makes this story of a boy wizard so compelling to both children and adults?  How do we evaluate J,K. Rowling’s place in the western literary canon? What worlds do we construct/remember as adults that capture our childhood visions and fantasy lives?  We’ll address such issues as ethics and morality; technology, magic and religion; feminism and friendship, to name a few. We’ll also consider the elements of the Harry Potter legend, discuss the resonance his story has throughout history and literature, as well as in our own lives and times, and engage in some creative language and art to explore our relationship to such mythic tales.

    “Books may be the only real magic.”

    --Alice Hoffman

     

    RCAH340-Technology and Creativity

     

    Section 001 (Aronoff)| M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    Fictions of Science and Technology

    This course will examine the interplay between scientific philosophies, technology and literature.  We will explore this interplay in terms of both content and form: in other words, we will study the ways in which the “subject matter” of science and technology – the theories, discoveries, inventions of science – are explored within novels and short stories to probe their implications for our conceptions of society, the self, and art; we will also think about how scientific “ways of knowing” – rationality, empiricism, linear narrative – have been deployed and resisted to shape the genres of the realist novel, detective fiction, gothic tales and science fiction.  Finally, we will also think about how the technology of the book itself shapes the kinds of narratives that can be produced, and how new technologies – the internet, hypertext, etc. – might produce new kinds of narratives.

     

    RCAH380-Third Year Tutorial

     

    Section 001 (Plough) | M W 8:30 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.

    Nonverbal Behavior

    This course reviews the different forms and functions of nonverbal behavior. Gestures, eyegaze, facial expressions, and posture are among the features covered. Elements that are part of any interaction, such as the physical space and the interactants, are considered. Different ways that we communicate our identity, emotional closeness (or distance), and status are also examined. The main goal of the course is to increase our ability to observe, analyze, and interpret nonverbal behavior.

     

    Section 002 (Yoder) | M W 12:40 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

    Religion without God? – Topics in Religious Naturalism. 

    “Religious naturalism” is a term that emerged in the 1980s from a wide ranging conversation between theologians, scientists, and philosophers of religion. Though it is an umbrella term used to cover a range of positions, the intellectual terrain included in religious naturalism is roughly defined by two shared commitments. The first is a commitment to naturalism, to the premise that we should look to the natural world, rather than some supernatural realm to explain and give meaning to our experience. The second is the claim that this commitment to naturalism does not preclude religion, that there can be authentic religious responses to the world that do not depend on the existence of a supernatural realm.

     

    Section 003 (Paula) | Tu Th 10:20  a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Insurgent Citizenship: New Urban Social Movements

    This course will consider the ways in which groups of ‘insurgent citizens’ subvert old paradigms and take on novel forms of action to address various aspects of the urban experience. We will look at transnational and transcultural insurgent modes of claiming spaces and rights through urban social movements that reconfigure conventional understandings of what it means to be a citizen. We will explore how interventions such as squatter occupations in Barcelona, mega informal markets in Buenos Aires, widespread tagging in São Paulo, Los Angeles transportation justice campaigns and worldwide Park(ing) Day events effectively engage in meaningful practices of citizenship including its social, economic, political, and cultural dimensions. From an interdisciplinary approach, we will address some of the ways in which urban social movements advance their class, race, gender, and environmental agendas via practices of insurgent citizenship.

     

     

    RCAH390-Language and Culture

     

    Section 001 (Torrez) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Reclaiming Language and Schools

    Many heritage language communities have endured colonization through practices of forced relocation, boarding schools, English-Only policies, or genocide in the pursuit of societal progress and economic stability. Individuals have countered oppression through assimilation or by hiding traditional sociolinguistic practices from dominant culture. Oftentimes, these acts of ‘survivance’ have left younger generations curious about their ancestors’ knowledge and buried knowledge systems. As communities continue to reclaim schools as spaces to teach younger generations ‘traditional’ ways, young people are creatively imagining practices that bridge traditions with new forms of cultural expression.

     

    Section 002 (Bosse) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.

    Music, Language, and Meaning

    It is often said that music is a universal language. While untrue, we collectively cling to this notion for reasons that reveal something important about human communication; for music and language are among the semiotic skills and behaviors that most uniquely define us as humans. While music and language may be useful in different ways, both involve the conversion of complex auditory sequences into meaningful units and structures (and vice versa) in a real-time, moment-to-moment, rapid-fire fashion. 

    Scholars through the ages have explored the connections between music and language, and music as language, from Plato to Charles Darwin to Leonard Bernstein. Participants in this course will add our voices to the conversation; engaging disciplines ranging from cultural criticism and cultural anthropology; musicology and music theory; semiotics, linguistics and communication studies; cognition, psychology and neuroscience.

     

    Section 003 (Monberg) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.

    Language, Literacy, and Culture

    This course introduces students to critical perspectives on how we think about literacy with a specific focus on underrepresented forms and legacies of literacy. We will explore how ideas about literacy have changed (or not changed) over time and how literacy has often been used to contain linguistic, cultural, and racial differences. We will consider the following questions as we move through the semester: How is literacy defined? How are these definitions used and mobilized and for what purposes? How are forms of literacy used, fostered, and sustained over time? How can we not only recognize diverse and emergent forms of literacy but also help them thrive in our classrooms and communities? What does it mean to study literacy? Where and how do we look for literacy in action? And, finally, what would it mean to (re)define literacy given the RCAH emphasis on storytelling, civic engagement, and knowledge-making in multiple forms and places?

     

    RCAH395-Special Topic-Arts & Humanities

     

    Section 001 (Thobani) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    Performing India: Arts, Culture and Nation Formation

    This course examines the role of ‘arts and culture’ in producing ideas about Indian national identity. Some of the questions we will address in class include: What are the convergences and divergences between colonial ideas about India, anti-colonial nationalist constructs of cultural heritage, and contemporary representations of a globalizing Indian nation? What makes artistic and cultural production such a powerful medium for the construction and dissemination of these ideas? What does it mean to practice and consume ‘arts’ that are historically rooted in the colonial encounter in the present moment? This course will be of interest to students of South Asian studies, as well as students interested in postcolonial studies, cultural studies, and studies of nation formation more broadly.

     

    Section 750 (Delgado, V) | Costa Rica Semester Program (RCAH395, RCAH292A, RCAH292B)

    Sustainability & Civic Engagement in Costa Rica

    The concept of sustainable development came into prominence in the late 1980s as world leaders wrestled with how to alleviate poverty through economic development without compromising the environment. In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Costa Rica is widely known both for its efforts towards sustainable development. It is the most visited country in Central America, welcoming over 2 million visitors in 2011, and it is renowned for its biodiversity and natural resources. Thus, it is not surprising that sustainable development is a critical component of the country’s overall development strategy. For 
instance, Costa Rica was one of the first countries to embrace ecotourism and has recently pioneered a new type of tourism -- rural community tourism, which seeks to build capacity in rural communities and protect ecological corridors, place-based cultivation practices and watersheds at the same time.  In this program, students will combine the study and practice of Spanish language with the ethics of sustainable development and civic engagement. During the initial eight weeks, students will live with Costa Rican host families in the central valley town of Santa Ana, attend classes at CONVERSA, a Spanish school overlooking Costa Rica’s capital San Jose and visit several tourism sites around the country. While in class, they will improve language skills and learn about civic engagement, frameworks for community-based participatory research, creativity and innovation, the ethics of sustainable development and the various forms such development takes in Costa Rica. During the next seven weeks, students will gain a more intimate knowledge of these issues as they live with host families in rural areas across the country and work with partner communities on small development projects using the RCAH Engagement Model, community input facilitation methodologies and community-based participatory research/creative/innovative processes.

     

    RCAH492-Senior Seminar

     

    Section 001 (Sheridan) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    The Role of Space in Nurturing Community, Creativity, and Learning

    In designing Pixar's headquarters, Steve Jobs famously wanted to limit restrooms to a small number located in the center of the building.  This would force people to congregate in a central spot multiple times during the day. And when people congregate, they talk and share ideas, fueling the creative process.

    This anecdote hints at the power of space to nurture two things that the RCAH values: social connections and the creative process.  In fact, our own space is designed with these goals in mind. We have places like LookOut!, the LMC, Serenity, and many other communal spaces aimed at supporting creativity, community, and learning.  Cities, too, have such spaces. Nearby, Old Town, Lansing, for instance, has become a creative hub.

    This class will use a number of lenses to explore the role of space helping us achieve things that we value.  We will examine what scholars and workers have said about work spaces, educational spaces, and civic spaces. We will visit exemplary spaces around and beyond campus.  Exploratory questions include: What makes a space effective? Exciting? Enchanting?

    The RCAH will serve as a chief example throughout the course.  By this point, all of us have had many experiences in RCAH spaces.  What can we learn from these experiences? How can we study the way RCAH spaces are used, modified, resisted by students, faculty, and staff?  How can we transform RCAH spaces so that they more effectively support the things we value?

    These are not just idle questions.  Students in this course will be invited to contribute to proposals for transforming RCAHspace.

     

    Section 002 (Halpern) | M W 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

    Two Cultures Collaborative Workshop

    This senior seminar is open to both RCAH and Lyman Briggs students. During the first weeks of the course, students from the two colleges will form interdisciplinary groups. Over the course of the semester, they work together to develop a project that represents their combined academic interests. Their process will follow Dr. Halpern’s design-inspired work facilitating artist/scientist collaborations through playful engagement. Final projects may take the form of websites, artifacts (designed objects, paintings, sculptures), stories, plays, histories, or other ways of sharing ideas and knowledge. Students will reflect on the collaborative process through individual journaling and group writing and reflection activities. While working in these collaborative teams, students will read canonical works that reflect on the nature of art and science, and on the relationship between the two. They will be encouraged to use these writings to reflect on their process, and on how the work they are doing with their groups fits into the broader scheme of knowledge production in the arts, sciences, and humanities. The aims of the course are be to help students develop their ability to work in diverse groups; to better understand their own field(s) in relation to other disciplines, and to deeply reflect on the challenges of and reasons for working across disciplines.

     

    Section 003 (Scales) | T Th 3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

    Who Owns Culture?:Cultural Property and Creativity in the Twenty-First Century

    In this course we will examine the legal, ethical, and cultural stakes related to current international conversations about intellectual property and cultural property and how these conversations will effect what Lawrence Lessig has called the “nature and future of creativity.”  In studying these issues we will ask such basic questions as: What is the relationship between shared cultural knowledge and individual creativity? Is it possible (or desirable) for a social group to “own” and “control” their cultural practices. Is there an inherent value for society in a “cultural commons,” and if so, how do we balance the ownership “rights” of individuals with those of larger communities?  These conversations are vital and immediate for RCAH students who are planning careers within the North American “creative economy.” As such, the most important outcome of this course will be the development of some very real and tangible possible policy recommendations, research papers, or creative works that confront these issues in meaningful and socially helpful ways.

  • 2016-17

    Fall 2016 Courses

     

    RCAH111- Writing Transcultural Contexts

    Section 001 (Skeen) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

    On the Street Where We Live: People, Place, and Possibility

    In “Home Burial,” Robert Frost has a farmer say, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” The farmer’s wife replies, “I should have called it something you somehow haven't to deserve.” Regardless of our experience, we all have had some places we've called “home.”  What does this term, “home,” mean to people inhabiting different places and different cultures? Does coming of age differ depending upon the place we call home? How important is community for allowing us to feel “at home”? What does “home” mean to you now that you have come to Michigan State? In this course we will study and create essays, stories, poems, and maps that deal with place, with landscape, with community, with the decisions we make to stay home or find a new home.  We'll pay attention to significant details: architectural; geographic; spiritual; regional and local, both familiar and unfamiliar. We'll hope to discover how the place we come from affects us and helps us to determine the places (both literal and figurative) we ultimately go.

     

    Section 002 (Aronoff) | M W 10:20 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

    Telling Stories: Composing Knowledges in Transcultural Contexts

    In this section of RCAH 111, we will focus on the connection between culture and “storytelling,” broadly conceived.  That is, we will examine the ways in which culture shapes the ways we perceive the world around us, and how we organize those perceptions into oral and written narratives – be they what we conventionally would call “stories” like personal narratives, myths or novels, or other genres like scientific, academic or philosophical writing, each with their own generic rules for the “stories” they tell.  Drawing primarily on short stories and novels, we will be particularly interested in what happens when different “cultures,” or ways of knowing and writing, collide, clash or mix, in a process we will call “transculturation.” In what ways, we will ask, does “culture” provide us with narratives, patterns, genres, through which we “shape” our experience into something meaningful? In what ways do we deploy, bend, mix these “stories”? If culture might be defined as a shared system of meanings through which one interprets the world, in what ways might the classroom constitute “a culture,” and what kinds of “stories” are employed therein?  In what ways are cultural “ways of knowing” embodied in (or constituted by, or complicated through) different genres of writing? What do each of these ways of knowing/writing/storytelling reveal or enable us to see, and what might they leave out? In what ways can certain kinds of writing or storytelling be seen as the mixing of, or struggle between, multiple systems of meaning or cultures? Possible course texts include Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony and/or Art Spiegelman’s Maus.

     

    Section 003 (Wittenauer) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    The Writing of Food: Identity, Culture, and Conversation

    Throughout this course, we will explore the dialogues surrounding food-centric issues on local, national, and international levels and examine our own understanding of the relationships between food, identity, and culture. Through examining the diverse perspectives in a wide range of genres, including documentary film, non-fiction, food blogs, cookbooks, and advertisements, and by reflecting on and analyzing these conversations through composing in academic, professional and public genres for a range of audiences, we will work toward participating in and understanding the impact of the food-centric writing, activities and conversations that surround us.

     

    Section 005 (Sheridan) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Transculturation in Michigan

    This class will investigate narratives of transculturation in Michigan, including stories set in Detroit, Benton Harbor, the Upper Peninsula, and mid-Michigan.  These stories will help launch conversations about the challenges that emerge when diverse cultural groups come into contact. As a class, we will write about/against/in-response-to these narratives, producing a wide range of compositions, from analytical essays to multimedia projects.

     

    Section 006 (Livingston) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    The Art & Practice of Consent

    RCAH 111 is a core course in the RCAH major. This course will focus on consent across personal, professional, and political contexts. Current consent campaigns on college campuses focus on sexual assault, or non-consent. But consent has much broader implications for how we develop relationships. Relationships are at the core of everything we do—how we treat each other, how we regard ourselves, how we act in community spaces. As you move through the RCAH’s highly collaborative environment, you will work closely with community partners, visiting artists, professors, and your peers. Consent is a way to make sure these relationships are respectful, reciprocal, and accountable.

    What does it take to create consent culture? This course offers frameworks for understanding the art and practice of consent broadly, as part of anti-oppression work. Analyzing popular and scholarly discourse on consent, we will study how to practice consent in various kinds of relationships. We will read widely from: queer and feminist nonfiction, art, blogs, and zines; peer-to-peer sex education materials; campus sexual assault and relationship violence programs, policies, and activism; the work of local community organizations; and understandings of informed consent in research. We will also practice consent in low-stakes contexts—especially in your work with your writing group, which you will stay with throughout the semester. The result of our work on consent will be a portfolio of writing, some of which will be public writing projects we negotiate together.   

     

     

    RCAH192-Proseminar

    Section 001 (Miner) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    Proseminar: Art and Activism

    In this proseminar, students will investigate the relationship between art and activism during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, focusing primarily on contemporary issues. We will interrogate the ways that artists work – what many call their ‘practice’ – in provocative and agitational ways. This seminar will give students access to the radical world of socially engaged art. We will concentrate on the activities of artists and collectives who often work at the margins of the mainstream (and capitalist) artworld, paying particular attention to the 'art of social practice', a hard-to-define artistic genre in which artists ‘make things happen’. This amorphous artistic medium goes by many names, including community-based art, social justice art, relational aesthetics, guerilla art, social aesthetics, participatory art, social practice, and socially engaged art, among others.

     

    Section 002 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Proseminar—Malcolm X in Greater Lansing

    Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, moved to the Lansing area when he was about four years old with his parents. By the time he was fifteen, his father would be dead in mysterious circumstances, the family home had been burned down, his mother was committed to a mental institution, and he had dropped out of school. While much of the work that Malcolm is famous for happened outside of the Lansing area, his early years were formative and there is very little trace of his presence marked in the contemporary community. This class will explore the writings of and about Malcolm X to better understand African-American History as well as the local history of the African-American community and how it helped shape one of the most influential Americans of the mid-20th century. In addition to just delving into the history of Malcolm X, this class will think about public history and public memory and will work on an oral history project and think about ways to present our work digitally to a wider community about Malcolm X’s local history in Lansing. 

     

    RCAH202-The Presence of the Past

    Section 001 (Kaplowitz) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Why #BlackLivesMatter

    Lots of folks ask, “Don’t ALL  Lives Matter?” This class will examine why we still have racial inequality in the United States and why it is important to discuss why #BLM.  Using readings, classroom activities, personal experiences, current events, movies, social media and more, we will study why, in fall of 2016, we still have such a deep racial divide in our country.  In order to understand this, we need to explore the historic roots of current day racial inequality. We will also 1) deepen our understanding of our own racial identities; 2) develop an understanding of the different forms of racism in the US; 3) discuss the differences between prejudice, stereotypes and racism; 4) understand current events, including how race is playing a role in the current presidential election cycle, and 5) learn how to engage in constructive dialogues across what is often an uncomfortable topic.  Finally, we will build a tool box to talk about allyhood and how to be conscious anti-racist leaders in our own communities and beyond. 

    Please note:  Four times during the semester, we will not have class during our regularly scheduled meeting time, and we will meet on a Sunday from 4-6:30 to view a full length feature film together. Please save the following dates: September 25, October 16, October 30, November 13

     

    Section 002 (Bosse) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Performing Memory in African Music

    This course explores the contemporary musical practices of a number of cultural groups living across the African continent, with special consideration for how music serves as a sonic testimony to the cultural history of a people.  We will learn how performance in any particular moment provides us with a way to perform individual memories as well as a shared history and resignify them with present-day concerns. Over the last centuries, African music has been received with much curiosity, confusion, romanticization, and misinformation among western audiences, perhaps more so than any other type of music.  This history informs the way we learn about African music today, presenting challenges that the learner herself/himself may not comprehend. For this reason, our own exploration of various musical traditions of sub-Saharan Africa will take a multi-pronged approach. Over the semester we will listen to, write about, talk about, read about, and perform the various genres in question.  By moving beyond the more conventional “learning about” to “learning from within, ” it is my hope that each student (and I include myself in this category) can not only learn about particular African music genres, but also something about who he/she is as a learner, as a performer, and as a citizen of the world. This approach also mirrors the processes through which ethnomusicologists approach their work.  And so, in the process, students will also learn the intellectual habits of the ethnographic disciplines that they can add to their “intellectual tool kit” for use in any other learning contexts in which you may find themselves in. This course is open to everyone, no matter your level of music knowledge. One need not be a musician to participate and succeed in this course. You will learn all the musical concepts you need.  Musicians who feel proficient in basic music concepts will be encouraged to analyze the music at a deeper level, and will be further challenged by ethnomusicological concepts.

     

    Section 003 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Global Slavery

    Starting with slavery in ancient times and working toward the present, this class looks at how various forms of involuntary servitude (conveniently all lumped together under the term “slavery”) have served as underpinnings for production of goods and services. We will look at the Atlantic World, but also the Indian Ocean World, and systems on the African continent to compare involuntary servitude across time and space. We will be looking at how these systems of involuntary labor differed and were similar—and debate whether they were all “slavery.” We will also examine how they contributed in ways large and small to the creation of the globalized world in which we live. The forces that led to the rise and fall of slavery have shaped our world in a wide variety of ways, and this course will help you interrogate the ways in which this is still important, and how debates over the legacy of slavery and reparations have been and continue to be contentious.

     

    Section 005 (Biggs) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Introduction to Theatre for Social Change

    Theatre artists have long taken up the charge of using performance to do more than entertain the public. Through song, dance, music, poetry, puppetry, monologue and scene work, actors, playwrights and directors have used the stage to engage audiences with important stories about the most pressing issues facing their time. The issues they reveal often have deep roots in historical conflicts that continue to impact the communities where they live. This course will investigate the response of artists from around the globe to pressing social justice issues with roots in the past, such as hunger, homelessness, water and land rights, health and wellness, mass incarceration, immigration, citizenship, gender justice and sexuality. Course work includes in-depth analysis of the history of a particular conflict and the art-making theory and practices of the assigned performance groups. Readings are partnered with regular, on-your-feet, art-making workshops to teach students related performance-making techniques. These may include workshops in American-style theatre improvisation; Native American, West Indian or West African dance; hip hop cyphers; Japanese butoh; Indian classical dance; and other forms as required. The course culminates in an opportunity for students to research, devise, and present short, original, theatre pieces on a topic of their choosing. By the end of the semester, they will be better able to think about human “cultures and histories in global terms,” and, be better equipped to examine “some of the ethical challenges that we now face” through performance (RCAH website). No previous acting or performance experience required.

     

    RCAH 281-Career Strategies

    Section 001 (Rudolph) | W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Liberal Arts on the Job

    This course will help you prepare for a career that engages the arts and humanities on a daily basis. You’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses and how your passions can translate into careers. You’ll build your personal brand, job shadow, hear from arts and humanities graduates and professionals, and gain a better understanding about writing a resume, interviewing and articulating the RCAH degree to potential graduate schools, employers and partners. After completing this course, you will more fully understand the value and marketability of a Liberal Arts degree

     

    RCAH291-Arts Workshops

    Section 001 (Sheridan) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Advanced Media Production and Design

    This workshop will explore the social and aesthetic potentials of video- and print-based media. Content is tailored to students who already have a background in one or more areas of media production. Students will generate creative and socially meaningful projects, exploring fundamental principles of design in the process. We will also investigate strategies for critiquing the work of others. This class will provide excellent preparation for anyone who wishes to work in the RCAH Language and Media Center.

     

    Section 002 (Scales) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    The Music of Southern Appalachia

    Appalachian communities have a rich and deep musical tradition that has played a unique role in the musical, political, and social life of America.  In this class, students will engage with this tradition through the first hand participation in the music, performing “old-time” string band music, ballad singing, shape-note singing, and more.  We will also examine the many social functions of the this music in American public life, including its influence on other contemporary musical genres (bluegrass, country, folk and protest music), its connection with American leftist politics in the 20th century, and its central role in the public imagination of “authentic” American identity.  Some background in music is recommended (but not required).

     

    Section 003 (Newman) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Dance as Human Experience

    Why do humans have an innate impulse to move, to dance? Through observation and exploration, students begin with a personal journey, from noticing ordinary movement to recognizing the extraordinary choices and possibilities that dance offers. Relationships to the broader context of history, culture, communication, social issues, and aesthetics are realized over the arc of experience. Students in this class can expect to move, to discover, to create, to write. They will learn to recognize dance/movement as an everyday tool by which humans experience and interpret life. No previous dance experience necessary.

     

    Section 004 (Baibak) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Reclamation Studio Project

    Reclamation Studio Project is a workshop based on gleaning, reuse, and transformation of found, second-hand, or inherited objects. The course is designed to help alter our perception of objects, so we can see them as an available resource for base materials: plastic, metal, wood, or fiber. We will dissect forms to discover their potential frameworks, cavities, openings, and abstract forms. We will look at connective materials, including bolt, wires, rivets, interlocking tabs, springs, hinges, and lashings. There will be experiments in surfacing objects (the great transformer), through sanding, abrading, eroding, denting, shredding, and re-dressing them in new skins.

    In this course, we will work with applied methods of creation, some existing and some yet to be discovered, that will help us investigate and design new forms. These methods will aid us in constructing objects that visually and physically enhance our daily passage. A few of the objects we’ll construct will be abstract, ornaments of pure aesthetics. The abstract becomes a way of exploring material relationships and potentialities without having to conceive a meaning. Other projects will shed light on the use of available resources to create practical objects. We will examine the utilitarian and abstract, and the importance of both. The class will read articles about reusing materials from “our great abundance.”

    Reclamation Studio’s goal is to help us to become more aware of available resources and to highlight our own responsibility as consumers.

     

    RCAH292A-Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Brooks) | Tu 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Holistic Citizenship: Living and Working in Engaged Communities

    This proseminar is an introduction to civic engagement and explores the concepts of cultural heritage and community, using an interdisciplinary approach. Employing theories and methodologies from the arts and humanities, as well as incorporating methods from the social and natural sciences, students will read and discuss an assortment of written and visual texts (artwork, writings, film, etc.) to facilitate learning and to enhance critical thinking. In addition, students will complete experiential learning exercises that build relationships with civic organizations and work toward improving personal and community health/wellness. More specifically, this course will assist students with developing an understanding of the various types of civic engagement activities in relation to the RCAH model on civic engagement (insight, practice, action, passion). Students will be challenged to critically assess perceptions of community, equity, collaboration, and reflection. Then, students will be asked to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate existing and new ways of performing civic engagement that improves individuals, families, communities, and humanity.

     

    Section 002 (Biggs) | W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Acts of Activism

    Because our nation faces many daunting challenges, from poverty and under-performing schools to criminal justice reform and the Flint water crisis, it is important to examine the many reasons for participating in public life, and, the myriad ways people work together to affect social change. Voting and volunteering are familiar forms of civic engagement. However, there are many other ways to promote a higher quality of life for self and others that involve both political and non-political processes. Historically, the arts and humanities have played a pivotal role in the struggle to transform individuals, institutions and cultural practices. For young people and other communities that have been marginalized or prohibited from participating in formal political processes, such approaches have been pivotal to their efforts to enter the public sphere as change makers. This course introduces students to RCAH’s approach to “civic engagement,” meaning how ordinary people participate in the public life and affairs of the community and the nation. It has a special focus on examining how artists and activists work to redress problems related to policing, mass incarceration, gender discrimination and economic inequality. Assigned readings will be complemented by opportunities to engage knowledgeable, local artists and community organizers, and develop projects in support of their initiatives. Particular consideration will be given to humanities-related questions about belonging, identity and community; equity and marginalization; power and social stratification; representation, responsibility, and ethics. By the end of the semester, students will have a better understanding of the dynamics of civic engagement and the importance of the arts and humanities in developing “a more democratic, just, and sustainable world” (RCAH website).    

     

    Section 003 (Esquith) | Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Peace Building

    How can we as citizens, committed to the arts and humanities, respond to the proliferation of violent conflict in our lives? We encounter it locally, for example, through gang violence, police activity, and the abuse of women, men, and children. We encounter it globally in the form of civil wars, wars of aggression, and organized and state terrorism. Often what begins far from home finds its way into our schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces. In this introduction to civic engagement we will consider one possible response to violent conflict: peace building. We will study the work of organizations engaged in peace building and discuss how peace building differs from other forms of non-violent conflict intervention.

    One peace building project that RCAH faculty and students have helped create with several of its community partners is a peace game modeled on John Hunter’s well known World Peace Game http://www.worldpeacegame.org/the-film/2012- 02-16- 00-10- 25a. In Mali, West Africa and with local partners at Peckham, Inc. and the Lansing Refugee Development Center, RCAH students and middle and high school students have worked together to develop their own versions of a peace game to resolve conflicts in their lives non-violently. This is the essence of peace building: empowering young citizens to address issues that are important to them without letting their differences and conflicts devolve into violence. (For an excellent summary of this multiple partnership around peace building, see RCAH graduating senior Kelsey Block’s article on the RCAH web site http://rcah.msu.edu/news-events/news/rcah- peace-games- makes-connections-between-mali- peckham-refugee-development-center.)

    This semester we will apply what we learn about peace building to the Crossroads Peace Game at Peckham, Inc. The Peckham Crossroads Program is for young adults who attend the Ingham Academy and participate in job and social skill development at Peckham’s North Lansing headquarters. Some of our regular Thursday class meetings will be at Peckham and the others will be in our Snyder classroom.

     

    RCAH292B-Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Delgado, G.) | Tu 1:50 p.m. - 5:40 p.m.

    Free Verse Arts Project

    This civic engagement course uses prison arts as a way to help create positive social change in our prison system and beyond. Through weekly visits to a prison, we will explore poetry with inmates and collaborate in creating and publishing a poetry ‘zine. We will investigate and gain an understanding of the power of poetry and its impact on the incarcerated by immersing ourselves in the works of poets who wrote while in prison, including Jimmy Baca Santiago and Etheridge Knight. We will plan a culminating event that allows the poems and ‘zine to be heard and shared outside the prison walls.

     

    Section 002 (Keller) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Photovoice (or Artvoice)

    Students in this course will develop and facilitate a Photovoice/Artvoice project with members of the Refugee Development Center. (The specific community within this space is yet to be determined, but will likely include a group of 15 middle school students at Gardner Academy in Lansing). It includes a collaborative exhibition and documentary video project that will be displayed in the LookOut! Gallery at the end of the semester.

     

    RCAH292C-Independent Engagement

    Section 001

    Independent Engagement

    292C courses are unique, independent engagements of variable credit negotiated between students, community partners, and RCAH faculty. They assume that the student and the community have established a relationship of mutual respect, trust, and benefit. They also assume a high level of passion and experience. These courses focus heavily on the action and insight areas of the RCAH Civic Engagement model. Students select and work with a specific faculty of record and community partner to develop and implement the syllabus and the engagement program for the course. 

     

    RCAH320-Art and Public Life

    Section 001 (Loeb) | Tu Th 1:00 p.m. - 2:20 p.m.

    Space & Race/Class/Gender

    Why do inner city areas look different from suburbs? Why are some neighborhoods – in towns as well as in cities and suburbs – seen as more welcoming to some groups of people than to others? Are the US patterns of inner-city poverty and suburban wealth universal? Do other differences separate people in cities in other parts of the world, and what do their spaces look like? What’s needed to create change?

    Space matters. How it is shaped and defined affects relationships among races, classes, and genders. In turn, these relationships affect the way space is constructed and distributed. We explore these dynamics and their impact on people’s lives in this course. We look at a wide range of urban settings -- from Detroit, Chicago, LA, and Ferguson and St. Louis, MO, to Jerusalem and beyond – to examine how spatial practices and social relationships interact. We also look at how artists and architects intervene in these practices to challenge existing patterns and provide openings to alternative arrangements.

    This multi-layered exploration draws on writings by architectural historians, landscape historians, art historians, designers, anthropologists, geographers, urban historians, sociologists, and scholars of ethnic studies, cultural studies, gender studies, and African-American studies. We also look at artwork and works of design by artists, architects, landscape architects, and others.

     

    RCAH330-Nature and Culture

    Section 001 (Aronoff) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    Natural Artifacts

    This course begins with the question, what is “natural” about “nature”?  That is, in this course we will see the category of “nature” -- and a host of related categories, like “wilderness,” “landscape,” -- not as something “out there,” a set of objects that can be studied and “known” by the observing human eye, but rather a category that is continually constructed and reconstructed across cultures and historical periods.  Moreover, in each construction of an idea of “nature,” a host of other categories emerge – of “human nature,” of ethics, art, knowledge, and of culture. In this way, one might argue, “nature” is always an “art-ifact,” a representation embodied in a particular “text,” be it a poem, a painting, a scientific report or a photograph. 

    In this class, then, we will focus primarily on American traditions of thinking about nature, and take for our case studies a variety of genres, especially literature and film.   We will ask: what do we mean when we use the term “nature”? What is “wilderness”? How do these terms construct, implicitly or explicitly, our ideas of “the human,” and the proper relation between the human and the non-human world?  How does this relation in turn produce ideas of knowledge, technology and “art”?

     

    RCAH380-Third Year Tutorial

    Section 001 (Scales) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Studying Popular Music

    Popular music is often dismissed in North America as “mere entertainment,” yet pop music plays a central role in countless aspects of our social life.  In this course we will grapple with this paradox in an attempt to answer some of the many questions raised by the role and power of popular music in North American society and around the world.

     

    Section 002 (Hamilton-Wray) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Identities and Cinema

    The cinema emerging from a nation, community, or artist movement can provide a rich site for investigating dominant and contested ideologies within certain societies. This course sets out to investigate the historical, social, political, and economic factors impacting film production within specific contexts, and how those films impact audiences and popular culture. This course will specifically look at the history of marginalized populations in cinema, with particular focus on blacks in the United States, but it will also explore particular examples in global cinema.

     This student driven tutorial will allow students to explore the relationship of various cinemas and film movements to how identities are resisted, contested and constructed on a community, national and global level. This tutorial culminates with students conceiving and implementing a film series, and producing a film series booklet containing articles on the filmmakers and works featured in the film series.

     

    RCAH390-Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Jackson) | M W 4:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

    Black Talk: African American Language, Literacy, and Culture

    The African American community constitutes a distinct speech community, with its own organizational and sociolinguistic norms of interaction (Smitherman 1996).  African American Language (AAL, also called Ebonics or Black English) is an Africanized form of English forged in the crisis of U.S. slavery, racial segregation, and the Black struggle for freedom and equality.  In this course, we’ll explore the social, educational, and political implications of AAL in the 21st century. Using the work of major scholars in sociolinguistics, literacy studies, and 1) examine AAL semantics, syntax, phonology, and morphology, 2) identify underlying historical and socio-economic forces responsible for shaping AAL, and 3) explore the impact of AAL within Black speech communities and U.S. and global popular culture.  

    We will examine language attitudes towards AAL, especially representations and misrepresentations of AAL within media and the Internet, and consider how such portrayals influence efforts to incorporate AAL within language and literacy instruction for Black children.  Additionally, we will give considerable attention to three major cases of U.S. language policy: Students’ Right to Their Own Language Resolution (1974), the King Ann Arbor “Black English” federal court case (1979), and the Oakland School District “Ebonics Decision" (1996-1997).  

    Assignments will include conducting linguistic and rhetorical analysis of AAL in literature, film, and popular culture (especially Rap music and Hip Hop culture).  Beyond the classroom, we will conduct participant-observations of AAL within predominately Black churches, campus student organizations, and other local African American speech communities.

     

    Section 002 (Monberg) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    Language, Literacy, and Culture

    This course introduces students to critical perspectives on how we think about literacy with a specific focus on underrepresented forms and legacies of literacy. We will explore how ideas about literacy have changed (or not changed) over time and how literacy has often been used to contain linguistic, cultural, and racial differences. We will consider the following questions as we move through the semester: How is literacy defined? How are these definitions used and mobilized and for what purposes? How are forms of literacy used, fostered, and sustained over time? How can we not only recognize diverse and emergent forms of literacy but also help them thrive in our classrooms and communities? What does it mean to study literacy? Where and how do we look for literacy in action? And, finally, what would it mean to (re)define literacy given the RCAH emphasis on stories and knowledge-making in multiple forms and places?

     

    RCAH395-Special Topic-Arts & Humanities

    Section 001 (Baibak) | Tu 3:00 p.m. - 3:50 p.m., Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Cultures of Creativity

    The Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, in collaboration with the College of Engineering, have developed a hybrid program to work collaboratively on community-based projects that require innovcation and creative solutions. they will be teaming up with Peckham Industries to work on a project that started in Spring 2016 and will continue into the fall semester. It will be a sustainability course that will take place both at Michigan State University and the Peckham farms. MSU students and Peckham team members will ahve the immersive and transformative experience of constructing a straw bale building/form, using earth materials gleaned from MSU farms, Peckham farms, and/or surrounding farms of Mid-Michigan. They will work with Doug Delind, and also have the opportunity to learn from one of MIchigan's leaders in the practice of straw bale construction, Deanne Bednar, of Oxford, Michigan (www.strawbalestudio.org).

     

    Section 002 (Shapira) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    The Mount and the City: Religion, Politics, and Architecture in Jerusalem

    The Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif is both a sacred site for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and a site of conflict. This course uses this site as a lens through which to examine the complex urban and architectural development of Jerusalem, itself important as the modern capital of the State of Israel, a focus of the Palestinian-Israeli national conflict, and an arena of international political concerns. It considers the question of how religious and political ideas shape space and the built environment. This course examines the city’s urban history, the political-religious perspectives represented there, and how these are expressed in the built environment, from competing claims derived from archaeological excavations to the way space shapes everyday life in the city. Using visual images and drawings, habits and rituals, literary sources, oral histories, and other texts, the course enables students to develop their own critical approaches toward the complexities of conflicts in which architecture and place play important roles.

     

    RCAH492-Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Esquith) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Immigrants and Refugees

    From the very first semester, as RCAH students you have been engaging serious moral and political issues.  In this senior seminar we will address one of the most contested issues we face today: the living conditions of immigrants and refugees globally as well as within the United States.

    • What are the living conditions of immigrants and refugees today?
    • What factors have caused these conditions?
    • How have immigrants and refugees coped with these conditions?
    • What can and should be done about this situation, and by whom? 

    These are the questions that will guide us in this seminar.  We will be reading Mary Pipher, The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community; Joseph Carens, The Ethics of Immigration; and selections from Peter Gatrell, The Making of the Modern Refugee; Howard W. French, China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa; and Susan F. Martin, Humanitarian Crises and Migration: Causes, Consequences, and Responses.

    In addition to reading about the lives of immigrants and refugees today, we will spend part of our time working with the families at the Lansing Refugee Development Center (RDC) to create a local dialogue forum on immigration and the lives of refugees.  RCAH has had a long relationship with the RDC, and our work this semester builds on this partnership.

    Spring 2017 Courses

     

    RCAH112-Writing Research Technologies

     

    Section 002 (Hamilton-Wray) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Black Female Cinema                        

    This course looks at the social, political, economic, and artistic implications of black female-centered cinema. Students become familiar with various feminist writings and film theories to investigate this cinema and to better understand the role it plays in society. Using the media literacy developed in the class, students undertake original research incorporating primary and secondary texts to create in-depth study of alternative cinemas. A series of shorter assignments takes students through the process of formulating research questions, finding appropriate sources in (and outside of) a large, research library, preparing research proposals and annotated bibliographies, and writing an analytical essay based on extensive research.  Students also develop skills in doing oral presentations, interviews, and creative presentations.

     

    Section 004 (Sheridan) | M W 12:40 p.m.- 2:30 p.m.

    The Production of Culture

    This class focuses on the ways that the analytical and creative work of the arts and humanities can help to solve real-world problems.  The premises of this course are: (1) that forms of cultural expression (such as stories, videos, performances, music, etc.) can be powerful tools of social change; and (2) that all of us are potentially producers of these forms.  Accordingly, students will begin by identifying a cultural problem — something they would like to see changed in the world. They will analyze the way the problem is embodied in popular culture (e.g., movies, music, websites). Finally, they will devise their own "cultural interventions": movies, music, websites, and other compositions aimed at addressing the cultural problem in question.

     

    Section 005 (Kaplowitz) | M W 10:20a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    The Personal is the Political: Social Movements in our Local Community

    In this section of RCAH 112 we will learn how to use research to deepen our understanding of pressing social issues in our local community. The term, “the personal is the political” was originally coined in the 1960s by the burgeoning feminist and student movements and it was meant both to inspire people to be politically active on the issues that affected their lives and to ensure that politicians paid attention to the issues of personal and local concern. The “personal is the political” highlights the connections between personal experience and larger social and political structures.

    In this class we are going to hear from local leaders of a variety of social and political movements to learn what personal lived experiences led to them to take broader social action.  We’ll hear from folks who are involved in #BlackLivesMatter movement, the LGBTQIA movement, refugee services, the racial opportunity gap and the human trafficking task force. We will explore issues like homelessness, and low-income housing.  Depending on student interest, we’ll study the Flint Water Crisis, food security issues, climate change and environmental sustainability issues. The topics covered will, in part, be driven by student interests.

    After examining a wide range of possible topics, each student will select an area for action research and will delve more deeply into a particular issue of personal interest.  We will spend the second part of the semester focused on social action research and each student will write an in-depth research paper based on your chosen social or political issue. 

     

    Section 006 (Yoder) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Researching and Writing about Ethical Issues

    While questions in bioethics are often considered to be very personal, they are also at the heart of many public controversies.  In this course we will use both public and scholarly reflection on bioethical issues to deepen our understanding of the practice of research and writing in the humanities.  We will use this material in order to increase our understanding of 1) what it means to do research in the humanities, 2) how to use writing as a means of inquiry, 3) how to evaluate and construct arguments, and 4) how to conduct and present a research project in the humanities.  Each student will produce a thesis-driven research paper on a relevant topic of their choice, a project utilizing an alternative format for presenting the results of their research, and a writing portfolio documenting both these final products and the processes used to produce them. 

     

    RCAH192-Proseminar

    Section 001 (Halpern) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Proseminar in Design for Social Good

    This course is an introduction to design, design thinking, and design research as well as an exploration of what it means to create something that has positive social impact. Many high profile design projects that attempt to do good, like One Laptop Per Child, fall short. Where did these well funded and well intended ideas go wrong? In this course, students will learn the basic principles of design (with a focus specifically, though on exclusively, on technology and interaction design) as well as strategies and methods for engaging with users drawn from user centered design, co-design, and reflective design practices. Throughout the course students will engage in critical thinking about the roles of designers and users, the social and ethical implications of technologies and designed objects, and the larger contexts in which these objects and users exist. Coursework will include a mixture of readings, design exercises, case studies, and a final group project in which students will examine their own college and building to find opportunities for socially motivated design. 

     

     

    Section 002 (Biggs) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    Introduction to Performance Studies-Methods, Theory and Analysis

    In this course, students will be introduced to the field of Performance Studies, a relatively new academic discipline that emerged from collaborations between artists and scholars in theatre and anthropology in the 1980s. As one of the founders of performance studies, Richard Schechner, noted, everything is not a performance, but just about everything can be read as a performance. Students will practice the art of interpreting and analyzing dramatic and non-dramatic texts, everyday events, and theatrical performances as an entry point for the study of culture, social roles, and identity. Course work will consist of assigned readings, in-class discussions, improvisational theatre workshops, and opportunities to explore local events and locations as a participant-observer or ethnographer. Student research sites may include sporting events, theatre and dance productions, political rallies, heritage festivals, religious institutions, museums, animal research and exhibition centers (zoos, parks, pet stores), and many more. The course culminates with in-class student performances about their experiences in the field as performance ethnographers. The combination of performance making projects and written assignments will strengthen students’ artistic and critical thinking skills as they investigate the relationship between performance works, performance events, and the performance of everyday life. No previous acting or performance experience required.

     

    Section 003 (Hamilton Wray) | Tu  Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Coming of Age in America

    This seminar introduces students to the field of Film Studies through the popular “coming-of-age” genre. The coming-of-age film genre deals with young people going through developmental stages of early youth to adolescence or adolescence to adulthood. Coming-of-age films are particularly valuable in looking at family structure, gender roles, generational conflict, values, and beliefs. In addition, these films aid in the discussion of the historical presence and contemporary issues of various racial, ethnic and other social identity groups in the United States.

     

    RCAH203-Transcultural Relations

    Section 001 (Miner) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Transcultural Relations of Food

    As you’ve probably heard before, ‘you are what you eat’.  In this course, we will use this adage as the basis to analyze and decode the role that food plays throughout various global histories.  Accordingly, we will study food as a cultural expression that links the world into an interconnected (although disparate) world-system. The course will include historical, cultural, and sociological inquiries into food and food’s larger meaning.  We will actively engage in cooking and eating, as well as thinking and writing about food. Food and the ways humans eat will be the impetus to understand the concept of ‘transculturation’ and global cultural interaction and change.

     

    Section 002 (Plough) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Transcultural Relations: The Globalization of Yoga

    After a brief overview of the originas and major schools of yoga, the course focuses on the introduction and spread of the practice and philiosophy outside of India. We will explore possible reasons for and the effects of the worldwide adoption of yoga on the practice itself, taking into consideration the commercialization (e.g., clothing, retreats, publications) of the tradition as well as its integration into western medicine (e.g., pain management, stress relief, improved mobility). Using asana (poses) as a starting point, we will look at the intended physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of specific asana. Among the questions we will address are: What commonalities exist between 'modern' and 'classical' yoga? How has yoga changed since its introduction to populations outside of India? How does the 'same' yoga differ based on where it is practiced? Is there an 'authentic' or 'pure' yoga?

     

    Section 003 (Esquith) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Transcultural Relations through the Ages

    We live at a time when different cultures are mixing, resisting, and absorbing each other rapidly. It is a process that has occurred in different ways, at different times, and in different places.  Four basic questions tend to recur. 

    • What happens when cultures and peoples conflict?
    • How have history, art, and culture defined the 'known world' and mediated these conflicts?
    • Are all cultures the same in value from an ethical point of view, or are there higher and lower cultures?
    • What can we learn about the strengths and weaknesses of our own culture(s) through the study of other cultures and encounters with other cultures?

    These are not new questions, but they remain deeply contested.  We will begin with one of the very first attempts to address them, Herodotus’ The Histories, which chronicles the war between the Persian empire and the ancient Greek city states led by Sparta.  Herodotus gives us a big picture of the world as he knew it, and we need this kind of wide-angle lens if we are to understand the process of transculturation. 

    But there is also the lived experience of transculturation, that is, what the Polish newspaper reporter Ryszard Kapuściński described as “encountering the Other.”  In his memoir Travels with Herodotus, he covered much of the same terrain that Herodotus did, but with an eye on the cultural conflicts and wars that shaped the 20th-century, not just Herodotus’s ancient world.

    To explore the moral interior of this encounter with the Other, we will turn to literature.  We will compare Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger set in Algeria during the French colonial period and a new novel, Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation set during the time of the Algerian Revolution in the 1950s and ‘60s.  Camus’ 1942 novel, considered one of the classic works of 20th-century moral philosophy, is told from the point of view of the main character, a French Algerian named Meursault, who kills an unnamed Algerian “Arab”.  Meursault is convicted and accepts his capital punishment with no remorse. Daoud’s novel just published last year is told from the point of view of the murdered man’s brother, Harun.  The two novels together illustrate how different the experience of encountering the Other can be, depending upon which side of the encounter one is on. Having explored the interior experience of colonial and revolutionary violence, we will conclude with two very different moral interpretations:  Pontecorvo’s famous film The Battle of Algiers and two short essays by Camus in which he weighs the relative merits of critics and defenders of the Algerian revolution.

     

     Section 004 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Transcultural Relations: African Leisure and Nationalism in the 20th Century

    This course examines histories of leisure to interrogate concepts of nationalism and citizenship. How were leaders attempting to harness leisure to create national communities, and how did people respond to these efforts? How did African sport and leisure get so intertwined with international politics that they became venues for protesting apartheid South Africa, fighting racial discrimination, and having African-derived or produced music and films becoming cultural lynchpins in societies across the globe? These questions will drive our examination of particular cases from African History, as we look at how debates over citizenship and nationalism have played out in different national and cultural settings. We will compare these cases across time and space to see how people have defined inclusion and exclusion within ethnic groups, national boundaries, and national citizenship. The course will look at cases across the continent, ranging from the early 20th century to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

     

    RCAH291-Arts Workshop

    Section 001 (Skeen) | M 3:00 p.m. - 6:50 p.m.

    Creative Workshop: In Pursuit of the Poem

    In this workshop we will examine the techniques that poets use to create what surprises, delights, and moves us about poetry, those elements we find as readers and those we create as writers.  We will consider the ways that poets use language, how fewer words can make a subject more powerful, how sound devices and structure are special tools for the poet’s use. How to write clearly, how to deepen the meaning of a poem through allusion and imagery, and how to find and explore our best subjects will be at the heart of our discussions.  We will read well and lesser-known poets, write poems weekly, and proceed through the semester in a workshop format. This is a workshop for those who have always wanted to write poetry but have been afraid to venture into the Poetry Wilderness as well as those who have already started down the trail.

     

    Section 002 (Claytor) | M W 8:00 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

    Fundamentals of Drawing

    Fundamental concepts of drawing. Gain an understanding of how to craft complex objects from simple shapes, create dynamic environments through the use of linear perspective, and achieve a better understanding of the human figure. Emphasis on observational, descriptive and analytical drawing. Practice of drawing skills using common drawing media.

     

    Section 003 (Delgado, G) | M W  10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Creative Workshop Possibilities with Paint

    In this creative workshop, you will explore the possibilities of paint through a variety of visual mediums.  You will experiment and practice painting in a variety of venues and examine the way painting interplays with context.  Painting experiences will help us explore topics and genres from the traditional – portraits and landscapes – to the theoretical, such as cultural studies and social justice issues. The objective for this class is to become familiar with painting techniques and art history while also developing an individualized painting practice that will enable you to translate ideas into visual narratives.  Watercolor and acrylic paints will be the primary mediums, though your artistic repertoire and exposure to different genres is a key objective. At the end of the semester, you will organize and exhibit your paintings in a group show on campus. No painting experience necessary and all skill levels are welcome. Come join the fun!

     

    Section 004 (Scales) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Digital Recording and Music Production

    This class involves the creation and recording of music through creative engagement with various music technologies including digital recording systems, sound synthesis software, and audio/video production software.  We will also examine the effects of new music technologies on the cultures of music making and music listening. Student will also learn about live sound recording and engineering, including the use of various kinds of microphones, microphone placements, and some of the basic principles of acoustics.

     

    Section 005 (Hunter-Morgan) | Tu 3:00 p.m. - 6:50 p.m.

    Book Arts

    Ever want to print your own poem or story the way it was done 100 years ago? To make your own book? To collaborate on a book? If so, join a writer, a printer, a bookbinder, and a book historian in a semester long workshop where you learn about both the books you read and the books you make. You'll get to spend some time in the Special Collections at the MSU Library looking at, and touching, books that are hundreds of years old at well as learning about the library's collection of contemporary artists' books. Hand set type in the art studio, work with visiting artists who might specialize in anything from papermaking to medieval book bindings, and, in the end, make your own books.  Each semester’s course will have a different thematic or structural focus.

     

    Section 006 (Biggs) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Performance Project

    The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Detroit riot. In July 1967, Detroit residents took to the streets. Martha and the Vandella’s Motown hit, “Dancing in the Street,” rang out as the rioters’ anthem as block after block went up in flames. The ’67 riots mark a critical turning point in the history of the city, the state of Michigan and the nation. In this intensive performance workshop, students will delve into the history of the city, as well as the catalysts and outcomes of the ’67 riots. Building off oral histories and historical documents, they will generate an original, interdisciplinary performance piece that not only tells the story of the uprising, but illuminates similarities and differences between the past and current conditions of the city, its residents, and the nation. Course work includes assigned readings, field trips to key historical sites, and creative workshops in theatre improvisation, acting, playwriting, directing, and choreography skills. Students will have the chance to act, sing, dance, compose poetry and song, write and perform scenes and monologues. The course culminates in a final performance of the work about Detroit in ‘67 and beyond for invited MSU community members and the public in the RCAH theatre.

     

    RCAH292A-Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Monberg) | Tu 12:40 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Serving versus Sustaining Communities

    This proseminar prepares students for civic engagement in the RCAH and beyond by exploring the differences between serving a community and sustaining one over time. The United States has a “distinct culture” of nonprofit and community-based organizations that depend on volunteerism (Stewart and Casey 2013). And while volunteerism has its place in community-based work, it often privileges a short-term commitment and a short-term understanding of communities. This course introduces students to a deeper understanding of how communities change over time.

    Students will work with Asian and/or Asian American communities on campus or in Greater Lansing to build an infrastructure for collecting stories of Asians/Asian Americans in the Midwest. As noted in the recent book, Asians Americans in Michigan, communities of Asian descent have settled in Michigan and grown over time but they are often invisible in the narratives about the Midwest. This course will enact methods for collecting, narrating, and circulating stories about Asian/Asian Americans in mid-Michigan while also working with these communities to further their own movements toward empowerment, greater visibility, and social justice. Ideally, the course will integrate spoken word, writing, and digital storytelling.

    Note: Students will be expected to spend time outside of regularly scheduled class time to work with community members on these storytelling projects.

     

    Section 002 (Delgado,V.) | W 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Great Lakes Water: Engaging in Sustainability and Equity

    This proseminar on engagement will use hands-on learning to motivate, excite, inspire and sensitize students to deeper reflection and civic engagement activities in the college. Through discussions on the nature of civic engagement, students will engage in discovery of their own community as well as new communities across campus, mid-Michigan and Detroit.  We will explore the critical engagement concepts of place, passion, imagination, peace and justice in structured dialogue and simulated role play on Great Lakes Water issues with groups that may include youth groups, refugees, people with disabilities, activists and artists in mid-Michigan. These dialogues will result in works of art, reflection and narrative that are meant to affect positive social change. This activity will provide focus for our work. But we’ll add in texts, multimedia resources and additional hands-on activities throughout to prepare us for higher-level thinking and involvement in engagement course work and community-based activism.

     

    RCAH292B-Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Delgado,G) | Tu  11:30 a.m. - 3:20 p.m.

    Prison Poetry ‘Zine Project

    This civic engagement course uses prison arts as a way to help create positive social change in our prison system and beyond. Through weekly visits to a prison, we will explore poetry with inmates and collaborate in creating and publishing a poetry ‘zine. We will investigate and gain an understanding of the power of poetry and its impact on the incarcerated by immersing ourselves in the works of poets who wrote while in prison, including Jimmy Baca Santiago and Etheridge Knight. We will plan a culminating event that allows the poems and ‘zine to be heard and shared outside the prison walls.

     

    Section 002 (Brooks) | Tu Th  3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Health and Wellness in Our Communities

    This course on engagement and reflection assists students with developing a deeper understanding of civic engagement and cultivates a fervent commitment to improving personal and community health and wellness. Students will be introduced to issues and challenges affecting the health and well-being of our communities. Using an interdisciplinary approach from the arts, humanities, and social sciences, this course explores the historical, physiological, psychological, spiritual, social, environmental, and occupational forces influencing our health behaviors and lifestyle choices. Topics explored consist of historical and cultural perspectives on health/wellness, psycho-social challenges to healthy living, environmental concerns, chronic diseases, alternative interventions and resources, and health policy studies. The goals of this course are to improve health literacy, draw attention to health disparities, and encourage greater participation in physical activity.

     

    Section 003 (Kaplowitz) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Intergroup Dialogue: Facilitating High School Students in Racial Dialogues

    This Civic Engagement course focuses on how we think and talk about race in the United States.  Students will deepen their understanding of the social construction of race in the United States and simultaneously learn techniques to facilitate critical dialogues across racial differences.  Students will spend 10 weeks co-facilitating dialogues about race in local high school classes.

    This RCAH civic engagement course will be co-facilitated by two professors (Donna Rich Kaplowitz and Jasmine Lee) of different racial identities. It seeks to attract a racially diverse student population who are open to exploring their own racial group memberships and how social identity relates to individual, interpersonal, and institutional forms of oppression and privilege.  Students should also have a keen interest (though no experience necessary) in facilitating dialogues about race with high school students.

    Students will spend the first six weeks of the semester working intensively in class to examine the social construction of race, different forms of racism, stereotypes, white privilege and allyhood.  They will simultaneously develop skills for facilitating dialogues with youth about race. The second half of the term will be spent in both our RCAH classroom AND in East Lansing High School classrooms co-facilitating intercultural dialogues on race.  Students will be placed as co-facilitators (preferably in teams of two or three different racial groups) in public school spaces and will facilitate near-peer racial dialogues. The course will culminate with a public reception of visual prompts related to racial understanding developed by the various high school dialogue groups.

    Students MUST reserve Saturday January 21st 2017 for a full day retreat.

     

    RCAH292C-Independent Engagement

    Section 001

    292C courses are unique, independent engagements of variable credit negotiated between students, community partners, and RCAH faculty. They assume that the student and the community have established a relationship of mutual respect, trust, and benefit. They also assume a high level of passion and experience. These courses focus heavily on the action and insight areas of the RCAH Civic Engagement model. Students select and work with a specific faculty of record and community partner  to develop and implement the syllabus and the engagement program for the course. For more information about the courses, pre-requisites and how to enroll, contact Vincent Delgado, Assistant Dean for Civic Engagement (delgado1@msu.edu).

     

    RCAH310-Childhood and Society

    Section 001 (Torrez) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    Activism and the Academy 

    This course will be offered alongside a Peace and Justice course offered by Dr. Kyle Whyte.

    This course will prepare students in the philosophies (theories), pedagogies (teaching methods) and practices from diverse literatures on scholar-activism. The course will begin with an analysis of the history of ideas—ancient and contemporary—on the role of scholars, especially intellectuals, in social movements. Special attention will be paid to debates about the role of intellectuals in labor and decolonization movements. The course will then shift to discuss specific philosophies of scholar-activism, including Indigenous research methodology, critical theory, feminist research methodology, participatory action research, critical legal theory, Black studies, [more examples]. These discussions will cover case studies of how these philosophies are embodied in advocacy and pedagogy. Both instructors have wide ranging experiences as scholar-activists and will develop case studies based on their own experiences. Students in the course will engage with the course content through reading, dialogue, role play, and engagement outside the classroom. Students will be expected take on their own project over the course of the semester in which they develop and critically evaluate an “action” that integrates scholarship and advocacy.

     

    RCAH340-Technology and Creativity

    Section 001 | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    Coming Soon!

     

    RCAH380-Third Year Tutorial

    Section 001 (Yoder) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Religion without God? – Topics in Religious Naturalism

    “Religious naturalism” is a term that emerged in the 1980s from a wide ranging conversation between theologians, scientists, and philosophers of religion. Though it is an umbrella term used to cover a range of positions, the intellectual terrain included in religious naturalism is roughly defined by two shared commitments. The first is a commitment to naturalism, to the premise that we should look to the natural world, rather than some supernatural realm to explain and give meaning to our experience. The second is the claim that this commitment to naturalism does not preclude religion, that there can be authentic religious responses to the world that do not depend on the existence of a supernatural realm.

     

    Section 002 (Hunter-Morgan) | M W 4:10 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

    Once Upon a Time: The Potency of Fairy Tales in our World

    “The incarnate mind, the tongue, and the tale are in our world coeval.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

    This course will explore the tradition of fairy tales, consider their importance in cultural history, and consider how they have evolved (or not) in contemporary work. We will think about what makes a fairy tale a fairy tale, and why we need, as Tolkien said, “to hold communion with other living things.” We’ll also discuss how fairy tales simultaneously help us understand what it means to be human and offer escape from what it means to be human. In addition to reading traditional tales, we’ll read contemporary or near contemporary re-tellings of old tales, and we will look to other genres. We’ll consider the role of fairy tales in film (Guillermo del Tor’s Pan’s Labyrinth, for example) and poetry (Anne Sexton).

    Tolkien distinguished between what he termed the Primary World and the Secondary World. W.H. Auden wrote of these worlds as well, asserting, “Every normal human being is interested in two kinds of worlds: the Primary, everyday, world which he knows through his senses, and a Secondary world or worlds which he not only can create in his imagination, but also cannot stop himself creating.” That quote, of course, establishes these worlds (Primary and Secondary) as binaries, but in this course we will explore how these worlds are inexorably intertwined. We will consider how fairly tales complicate and sometimes blur fixed binaries (nature/culture, beauty/monstrosity, mortality/immortality), and we will consider the importance of dwelling in a space where we can’t, as Auden said, stop ourselves from creating.

    Why do we love fairy tales? They enchant, yes. But they do more than that as well. Hans Christian Anderson translator Erik Christian Haugaard said, “I know of no fairy tale which upholds the tyrant, or takes the part of the strong against the weak. A fascist fairy tale is an absurdity.” Angela Carter called the spirit of the fairy tale “heroic optimism.” Tolkien claimed, “It was in fairy-stories that I first divined the potency of words, and the wonder of the thing, such as stone, and wood, and iron; tree and grass, house and fire; bread and wine.” That these tales are full of loss, jealousy, and suffering in addition to stones, wood, and iron, make them real to us. That they generally end with what Tolkien described as sudden and miraculous grace is an assertion of the triumph of desire over dread. During this course, we will divine the potency of these tales. 

     

    Section 003 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    3rd Year Tutorial: Decolonization

    What was colonialism? What does it mean to ‘decolonize?’ Was this an event or a process? Is it complete today, or is it an ongoing goal? Must we engage with the colonial frame, or should colonial periods be subsumed within greater narratives of history? How do questions of the indigenous and indigeneity play into efforts to decolonize spaces in the 21st century. This class will take look at 20th and 21st century processes of decolonization through lenses of history, literature, and art in the first part of the class, and engage in the creation of a scholarly work in the second part looking at an aspect of decolonization in particular times, places, and spaces.

     

    RCAH390-Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Torrez) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Reclaiming Language and Schools

    Many heritage language communities have endured colonization through practices of forced relocation, boarding schools, English-Only policies, or genocide in the pursuit of societal progress and economic stability. Individuals have countered oppression through assimilation or by hiding traditional sociolinguistic practices from dominant culture. Oftentimes, these acts of ‘survivance’ have left younger generations curious about their ancestors’ knowledge and buried knowledge systems. As communities continue to reclaim schools as spaces to teach younger generations ‘traditional’ ways, young people are creatively imagining practices that bridge traditions with new forms of cultural expression.

     

    Section 002 (Plough) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 p.m.

    Intercultural Communication

    This course provides an introduction to fundamental concepts of intercultural communication.  Examples of verbal and nonverbal exchanges in diverse international settings are discussed to build an understanding of varied ways of communicating and of the processes of intercultural communication. An awareness of communication behavior – including one’s own – and its consequences are increased through readings of relevant literature and through an examination of intercultural encounters.  Reflective tasks are used to view one’s own communication style from an external perspective.

     

    RCAH492-Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Monberg) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    The Art(s) of Public Memory: Collective Geographies of History in Literature, Film, and Other Stories

    If public memory both remembers the past and ensures that we will further that remembering into the future, then how do literature, film, and other forms of storytelling prompt us to both remember and further that remembering? By narrating multiple, diverse, and sometimes competing versions of the past, these storytelling forms often highlight a view of history as a form of knowledge that is carried, narrated, and performed in everyday spaces and places (including the university). In this seminar, we will ask, what histories are these storytelling forms remembering or retelling? What methods do these works use to juxtapose stories and counterstories of the past? How do these representations of the past complicate common understandings of time and place? In what ways do these stories position the reader/viewer not just as a passive recipient of these histories but also as an active agent of history, a person who can further the remembering?

     

    Section 002 (Keller) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Power of Photography

    It is said that a photograph is worth a thousand words. But which or whose words remain open questions, as meaning is never constant and is capacitated by boundless interpretations. Perhaps Roland Barthes said it best, “Such is the photograph: it cannot say what it lets us see” (Barthes 1981: 100). Contrary to the notion that pictures hold universal power, therefore, a photograph can be read and understood in a variety of ways, provoking multiple possible connotations that bear unequal weight. Mediated by individuals—creators and viewers—its message is unfixed, fluctuating through time, space, and social contexts.

    Originally hailed as a mechanical science, free from human bias, photography was foremost a dispassionate method with which to accurately record material appearances. Overwhelming faith in this perspective provided the photograph with authoritative power. Thanks to the critical work of numerous artists and writers in the twentieth century, however, we have come to learn that photographs do not record the real as much as they signify and construct it. Nevertheless, unlike any medium before it, the photograph continues to straddle the boundaries of art and document, fact and fiction. As such, it occupies an ambiguous and flexible, yet powerful, position in the world of visual information—informing much of what we know, value, and imagine.

    This seminar asks students to critically examine the power photography holds in our individual and collective lives. It begins with an overview of the history of the medium, including its technological and critical developments, delving deeper into social, ethical quandaries as the semester progresses. Although each student will work on an individual research project, over the course of the semester, the class will discuss common readings, visit the photographic collections at the MSU Museum and Kresge Art Museums on campus, and peer review work in a supportive environment.

     

    LB492-Senior Seminar

    Section 003 (Halpern) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    This senior seminar is open to both RCAH and Lyman Briggs students. During the first weeks of the course, students from the two colleges will form interdisciplinary groups. Over the course of the semester, they work together to develop a project that represents their combined academic interests. Their process will follow Dr. Halpern’s design-inspired work facilitating artist/scientist collaborations through playful engagement. Final projects may take the form of websites, artifacts (designed objects, paintings, sculptures), stories, plays, histories, or other ways of sharing ideas and knowledge. Students will reflect on the collaborative process through individual journaling and group writing and reflection activities. While working in these collaborative teams, students will read canonical works that reflect on the nature of art and science, and on the relationship between the two. They will be encouraged to use these writings to reflect on their process, and on how the work they are doing with their groups fits into the broader scheme of knowledge production in the arts, sciences, and humanities. The aims of the course are be to help students develop their ability to work in diverse groups; to better understand their own field(s) in relation to other disciplines, and to deeply reflect on the challenges of and reasons for working across disciplines.

    This section of LB 492 is open to RCAH students and can be used toward the RCAH 492 requirement. To get permission to enroll, please email Pam Newsted (newstedp@msu.edu).

  • 2015-16

    Fall 2015 Courses


    RCAH111- Writing Transcultural Contexts

    Section 001 (Aronoff) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Telling Stories:  Composing Knowledges in Transcultural Contexts

    In this section of RCAH 111, we will focus on the connection between culture and “storytelling,” broadly conceived.  That is, we will examine the ways in which culture shapes the ways we perceive the world around us, and how we organize those perceptions into oral and written narratives – be they what we conventionally would call “stories” like personal narratives, myths or novels, or other genres like scientific, academic or philosophical writing, each with their own generic rules for the “stories” they tell.  Drawing primarily on short stories and novels, we will be particularly interested in what happens when different “cultures,” or ways of knowing and writing, collide, clash or mix, in a process we will call “transculturation.” In what ways, we will ask, does “culture” provide us with narratives, patterns, genres, through which we “shape” our experience into something meaningful? In what ways do we deploy, bend, mix these “stories”? If culture might be defined as a shared system of meanings through which one interprets the world, in what ways might the classroom constitute “a culture,” and what kinds of “stories” are employed therein?  In what ways are cultural “ways of knowing” embodied in (or constituted by, or complicated through) different genres of writing? What do each of these ways of knowing/writing/storytelling reveal or enable us to see, and what might they leave out? In what ways can certain kinds of writing or storytelling be seen as the mixing of, or struggle between, multiple systems of meaning or cultures? Possible course texts include Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony and/or Art Spiegelman’s Maus.

     

    Section 002 (Sheridan) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Transculturation in Michigan

    This class will investigate narratives of transculturation in Michigan, including stories set in Detroit, Benton Harbor, the Upper Peninsula, and mid-Michigan.  These stories will help launch conversations about the challenges that emerge when diverse cultural groups come into contact. As a class, we will write about/against/in-response-to these narratives, producing a wide range of compositions, from analytical essays to multimedia projects.

     

    Section 003 (Jackson) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    Race, Rhetoric, and the Arts of Resistance

    In this section of RCAH 111, we will explore the role that rhetoric plays within popular struggles for racial, social, and economic justice. Our task this semester is three-fold: we will 1) explore the intersecting rhetorics of race, class, and gender; 2) examine the role that writing has played in  re-inscribing or resisting existing power relations in society; and 3) experiment with various modes of argumentation (from academic essays, dialogic journal writing, individual and group presentations, poetry, and visual art), writing in various genres or styles for multiple audiences and different rhetorical situations.

     

    Section 004 (Birdsall) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    Producing Culture: Individuals Making Communities

    This course will explore how we interpret contemporary culture (individually and collectively), how cultural ideas and ideals are communicated and disseminated, and how individuals form communities, and sometimes subcultures, based on their interpretations. We will investigate the distinction between “high” and “low” culture, in order to interrogate how the two terms are used in an ongoing debate about the meaning of contemporary culture in the United States—about, say, the way media interpret daily events, the quality of popular tastes, and how various kinds of media—including online social networks, advertising, film, music, TV, and literature—collide to make meaning in our daily lives. We will work together to explore how such subjects as new media, generational differences, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, education, style, storytelling, work, and writing collide to tell the story of contemporary American culture in its myriad individual and collective forms.

    Throughout, we will pay special attention to the ways in which reading (and writing) popular culture can help us to understand real-world problems. We will investigate the roles that various forms of cultural expression play in provoking and promoting social evolution, and the roles that we play in creating and consuming these forms. We will begin with deceptively simple questions: what is culture? How do individual stories come together to create a sense of culture, in both its mainstream and subcultural incarnations? What do these stories look like in their various forms? What role does the production and consumption of popular media play in developing a sense of self? A sense of community? What ethical stakes lie in the answers to these questions?

     

    Section 005 (Scales) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    Indigenous Music and Dance in a Transcultural Perspective

    For many North American indigenous groups, music and dance are central aspect of cultural life, playing an important role in religious ceremony, sacred and secular ritual events, artistic expression, and popular entertainment.  Students will learn about a number of the various musical traditions in Native North America through study of both historical and contemporary written texts and recorded performances, as well as through first hand musical participation.  Topics of study will include the relationship between music and other facets of social life, including work, religion, family, politics, and other artistic performance traditions (dance, theatre, film) as well as the use of music in demarcating tribal, regional, and intertribal identity.

     

    Section 006 (Livingston) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    The Art & Practice of Consent 

    Current consent campaigns on college campuses focus on sexual assault, or non-consent. But consent has much broader implications for how we develop relationships. Relationships are at the core of everything we do—how we treat each other, how we regard ourselves, how we act in community spaces. As you move through RCAH’s highly collaborative environment over time, you will work closely with community partners, visiting artists, professors, and your peers. Consent is a way to make sure these relationships are respectful, reciprocal, and accountable.

    What does it take to create consent culture? This course offers frameworks for understanding the art and practice of consent broadly, as part of anti-oppression work. Analyzing popular and scholarly discourse on consent, we will study how to practice consent in various kinds of relationships. We will read widely from: queer and feminist nonfiction, art, blogs, and zines; peer-to-peer sex education materials online; campus sexual assault and relationship violence programs, policies, and activism; the work of local community organizations; and understandings of informed consent in research. We will practice consent in low-stakes contexts—in your work with your writing group, which you will stay with throughout the semester. The result of our work on consent will be a portfolio of writing, some of which will be public writing projects we negotiate together.

     

    RCAH192-Proseminar

    Section 001 (Yoder) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    Private Faith and Public Life

    In the U.S. we seem to have a tenuous relationship with religion. On the one hand, officially the U.S. is a “secular” nation with no state religion and a constitution that guarantees the separation of church and state. On the other hand, in many ways we are a deeply religious nation. Surveys consistently suggest that a majority of citizens believe in God and religious institutions play important roles at the local and national level. We try to manage this tension by distinguishing between the public and private spheres of life, relegating religion to the latter, but this solution has been only partially successful as debates about matters such as the teaching intelligent design in public schools, public support for faith-based social services, and same-sex marriage demonstrate. The goal of this course is to explore the intersection of religious belief and public life.  We will explore the following sorts of questions: What does it mean to have a “secular” society? How do our religious beliefs shape how we respond to public issues? How should they? Does religious faith improve or harm our public lives? How can we talk respectfully and constructively about religion?

     

    Section 002 (Biggs) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    An Introduction to Performance Theory and Analysis

    In this course, students will be introduced to the field of Performance Studies, a relatively new academic discipline that emerged from collaborations between artists and academics in Theatre and Anthropology in the 1980s. As one of the founders of Performance Studies, Richard Schechner, noted, everything is not a performance, but just about everything can be read as a performance.  Students will practice the art of interpreting and analyzing dramatic and non-dramatic texts and theatrical performances as an entry point for the study of culture, social roles, and identity. 

     

    Section 003 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 2:40 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

    Proseminar—Malcolm X in Greater Lansing

    Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, moved to the Lansing area when he was about four years old with his parents. By the time he was fifteen, his father would be dead in mysterious circumstances, the family home had been burned down, his mother was committed to a mental institution, and he had dropped out of school. While much of the work that Malcolm is famous for happened outside of the Lansing area, his early years were formative and there is very little trace of his presence marked in the contemporary community. This class will explore the writings of and about Malcolm X to better understand African-American History as well as the local history of the African-American community and how it helped shape one of the most influential Americans of the mid-20th century. In addition to just delving into the history of Malcolm X, this class will think about public history and public memory and make a start to creating a digital/online compendium of sites where Malcolm X lived, worked, and frequented in the hope of providing a resource for the community and those interested in the life of times of Malcolm X in Lansing.

     

    RCAH202-The Presence of the Past

    Section 001 (Aerni-Flessner) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    The Presence of the Past—Global Slavery

    Starting with slavery in ancient times and working toward the present, this class looks at how various forms of involuntary servitude (conveniently all lumped together under the term “slavery”) have served as underpinnings for production of goods and services. We will look at the Atlantic World, but also the Indian Ocean World, and systems on the African continent to compare involuntary servitude across time and space. We will be looking at how these systems of involuntary labor differed and were similar—and debate whether they were all “slavery.” We will also examine how they contributed in ways large and small to the creation of the globalized world in which we live. The forces that led to the rise and fall of slavery have shaped our world in a wide variety of ways, and this course will help you interrogate the ways in which this is still important, and how debates over the legacy of slavery and reparations have been and continue to be contentious

     

    Section 002 (Bosse) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    African Music and the Performance of Memory

    This course explores the contemporary musical practices of a number of cultural groups living across the African continent, with special consideration for how music serves as a sonic testimony to the cultural history of a people.  We will learn how performance in any particular moment provides us with a way to perform individual memories as well as a shared history and resignify them with present-day concerns. Over the semester we will listen to, write about, talk about, read about, and perform the various genres in question.  By moving beyond the more conventional “learning about” to “learning from within,” it is my hope that each student can not only learn about particular African music genres, but also something about who he/she is as a learner, as a performer, and as a citizen of the world. This approach also mirrors the processes through which ethnomusicologists approach their work.  And so, in the process, students will also learn the intellectual habits of the ethnographic disciplines that they can add to their “intellectual tool kit” for use in any other learning contexts in which you may find themselves in. This course is open to everyone, no matter your level of music knowledge. One need not be a musician to participate and succeed in this course.  

     

    Section 003 (Biggs) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    The Presence of the Past - Performance, Crime and Punishment

    In this course, we investigate the development of contemporary crime theory and legal practices by asking critical questions about how crime and criminality are constructed, laws enacted, and punishment administered. The course emerges from the intersection of law and performance studies. As such, it is not a traditional political science class that might study the rise of the modern state or public policy. Nor is this a theatre class concerned solely with the socio-historical-legal context behind a play. Instead, we will do some of both.  We adopt this course of study based on the realization that law is not merely written, but is made manifest through expressive acts, on and through the body, just as other social practices are. It is my sincere hope that students will walk away from class understanding that there is an aesthetics to the law that includes performance conventions and theatricality, and, that artistic products often function as agents of the law, at times disseminating, complicating or disrupting popular ideas about it.

     

    Section 004 (Hamilton-Wray) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Histories and Lore from the Cradle of Humankind

    This course introduces students to the notion of the presence of the past and how it creates possibilities for an engaged ethical life now and in the future. The course is built on two assumptions: the first is that oral tradition plays a vital role in the creation and reproduction of the “hidden histories” of African peoples. The second assumption is characteristics of African oral tradition permeate the folklore, music, proverbs, cooking, humor, literature, and many other aspects of African, African diaspora and American society.  Hence, this course explores the oral history, imagined history, autobiographical history, and a fourth category that I call “trans-history,” that is history that connects the past with the future, in order to interrogate history’s connections to the present in various cultural, political and social expressions. Together, we’ll explore: What do the hidden histories of African peoples reveal about historical struggle and resistance in search of African liberation? How have and can these hidden histories be employed for positive social change? Through course material such as, epic tales, folktales, literature, film, visual art, and music produced by Africans and people of African descent, students will become more adept at making inquiry using a variety of primary and secondary sources.

     

    Section 005 (Esquith) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Mythic Heroes of War and the World Peace Game

    One way to grasp the presence of the past is through the dominant myths that we live by. What stories do we tell about the past and its development over time? How do these stories – whether they take the form of poetry, theater, film, novels, constitutions, or the everyday rituals of popular culture – structure and guide our lives?  In what sense are these stories present to us? In what sense are they myths we live by?

    The goal of the course is not to provide an exhaustive catalogue of myths, ancient or modern. Nor is it to search for a universal set of images or mythic archetypes. Our primary goal is to understand how certain myths about heroism have been carried forward, what other possible worlds they may open to us, and how they empower some people while disabling others. We will focus specifically on heroes of war.  We will focus initially on the Homeric heroes Achilles and Odysseus, and the main characters in Sophocles's Ajax.  As we read these texts, we will also consider ways in which these stories prefigure the stories of today's soldiers who suffer from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and moral injury.

    To help us understand these stories, past and present, we will combine our reading of the classical texts with two complementary activities involving our own RCAH civic engagement projects with community partners in the Greater Lansing area. RCAH has been working with Lansing Refugee Development Center and Peckham Industries to create World Peace Game projects with their students and employees. RCAH students in this section of RCAH 202 will spend time with these partners who have already begun to design peace games at their sites. The second complementary activity which is closely connected to the peace game activity, is artistic. Students will work with artist-in-residence Doug DeLind to build the structures and materials needed for the peace game. These may include small sculptural objects, fabric art, animated films, and other forms of visual art.

    In short, we will learn abour the presence of the past through our study of wartime heroes and through collaborative, creative projects with community partners.

     

    RCAH 281-Career Strategies

    Section 001 (Rudolph) | Tu 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Liberal Arts on the Job

    This course will help you prepare for a career that engages the arts and humanities on a daily basis. You’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses and how your passions can translate into careers. You’ll build your personal brand, job shadow, hear from arts and humanities graduates and professionals, and gain a better understanding about writing a resume, interviewing and articulating the RCAH degree to potential graduate schools, employers and partners. After completing this course, you will more fully understand the value and marketability of a Liberal Arts degree

     

    RCAH291-Arts Workshops

    Section 001 (Claytor) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Fundamentals of Drawing

    Fundamental concepts of drawing. Gain an understanding of how to craft complex objects from simple shapes, create dynamic environments through the use of linear perspective, and achieve a better understanding of the human figure. Emphasis on observational, descriptive and analytical drawing. Practice of drawing skills using common drawing media.

     

    Section 002 (Sheridan) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Advanced Media Production and Design

    This workshop will explore the social and aesthetic potentials of video- and print-based media. Content is tailored to students who already have a background in one or more areas of media production. Students will generate creative and socially meaningful projects, exploring fundamental principles of design in the process. We will also investigate strategies for critiquing the work of others. This class will provide excellent preparation for anyone who wishes to work in the RCAH Language and Media Center. Students who wish to enroll in this course should contact David Sheridan (sherid16@msu.edu).

     

    Section 003 (Bosse) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Ballroom Dance

    Partnership or couple dances (like the swing, salsa, foxtrot, waltz and tango) have played an important role in shaping American popular culture in the twentieth century.  In this workshop, students will draw upon this history as we learn how to perform and analyze a range of contemporary partnership dances and then move out into the community to better understand the creative, synchronic, social potential of dance for bringing community members together in different but valuable ways. 

     

    Section 004 (Scales) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    The Music of Southern Appalachia

    Appalachian communities have rich and deep musical traditions that have played a unique role in the musical, political, and social life of America.  In this class, students will engage with this tradition through the first hand participation in the music, performing “old-time” string band music, ballad singing and shape-note singing, and related genres.  We will also take some time to discuss some of the many social functions of the this music in American public life, including its influence on other contemporary musical genres (bluegrass, country, folk and protest music), its connection with American leftist politics in the 20thcentury, and its central role in the public imagination of “authentic” American identity.  Some background in music is recommended (but not required).

     

    RCAH292A-Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Delgado, V) | Tu 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Engagement Proseminar

    This proseminar on engagement will use hands-on learning to motivate, excite, inspire and sensitize students to deeper reflection and civic engagement activities in the college. Through discussions on the nature of civic engagement, students will engage in discovery of their own community as well as new communities across campus and mid-Michigan.  We will explore the critical engagement concepts of place, passion, imagination, peace and justice in structured dialogue with groups that may include youth groups, refugees, people with disabilities, activists and artists in mid-Michigan. These dialogues will result in works of art, reflection and narrative that are meant to effect positive social change. This activity will provide focus for our work. But we’ll add in texts, multimedia resources and additional hands-on activities throughout to prepare us for higher-level thinking and involvement in engagement course work and community-based activism.

     

    Section 002 (Brooks) | W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Holistic Citizenship: Living and Working in Engaged Communities

    This proseminar is an introduction to civic engagement and explores the concepts of cultural heritage and community, using an interdisciplinary approach. Employing theories and methodologies from the arts and humanities, as well as incorporating methods from the social and natural sciences, students will read and discuss an assortment of written and visual texts (artwork, writings, film, etc) to facilitate learning and to enhance critical thinking. In addition, students will complete experiential learning exercises that build relationships with civic organizations and work toward improving personal and community health/wellness. More specifically, this course will assist students with developing an understanding of the various types of civic engagement activities in relation to the RCAH model on civic engagement (insight, practice, action, passion). Students will be challenged to critically assess perceptions of community, equity, collaboration, and reflection. Then, students will be asked to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate existing and new ways of performing civic engagement that improves individuals, families, communities, and humanity.

     

    RCAH292B-Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Co-taught: Hamilton-Wray & Kaplowitz) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Race, Intercultural Dialogue and Civic Engagement

    This new Civic Engagement course focuses on how we think and talk about race and other intersecting social identities in the United States.  Students will deepen their understanding of the social construction of race in the United States and simultaneously learn techniques to engage in constructive conversations and critical dialogues across racial differences. 

    Team taught by two RCAH professors of different racial identities, this course seeks to attract a racially diverse student population who are open to exploring their own social group memberships and how social identity relates to individual, interpersonal, and institutional forms of oppression and privilege.  Students should also have a keen interest (but no experience required!) in facilitating conversations across different identity groups.

    Students will spend the first six weeks of the semester working intensively in class to examine stereotypes, question previously held beliefs, and understand the roots of racial privilege and oppression in the United States.  They will simultaneously develop skills for facilitating dialogues with others about race. The second half of the term will be spent in both our RCAH classroom AND in community co-facilitating intercultural dialogues on race.  Students will be placed as co-facilitators (preferably in teams of two different racial groups) in public school spaces and other extracurricular placements and will facilitate near-peer racial dialogues. The course will culminate with a public reception of visual prompts related to racial understanding developed by the various dialogue groups.

    NOTE: Students selecting this section must have at least one day a week available to facilitate dialogue between 3-5 pm.  Students MUST reserve Saturday September 12, 9-5 for a full day off-campus retreat for this class. 

     

    Section 002 (Newman) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Arts Now

    This course is designed to provide students with a current perspective and understanding of the nature of non-profit arts organizations and cultural service-providers. Individual students will be paired with a local arts organization, exposed to the organization’s day-to-day operations, and gain useful job skills and connections to professionals in the field by being a part of the arts organization/service workforce. Deeper investigations include the intricacies of organizational structure including mission statement, governance, budget and funding sources. The issues of political climate, trends in charitable giving, and arts advocacy will further student understanding of the complex influences affecting the survival of these important community non-profits and the benefits they provide. Through involvement with his/her Arts Community Partner, the student will gain insights into the intense commitment integral to managing a community arts organization. Students will closely examine the importance of the arts in multiple facets of human life – in education, community, and beyond. And, students will gain a personal perspective on the possible direction and future of the arts in the U.S. during the coming decade, as well as his/her own potential to make a difference in that outcome.

     

    Section 003 (Jackson) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    "We Real Cool:" Educational Interventions for Adolescent At-Risk Black Males

    In her poem “We Real Cool,” Gwendolyn Brooks dramatically expresses, with honest simplicity and painful clarity, the fate of the “cool.”  For Brooks, “cool” people express themselves by leaving school and entering a dark world, intensely made problematic by “sin” and “soon” dying.  This section of RCAH 292B invites students to explore these issues by looking hard at the intersection between coolness and literacy as enacted within classroom spaces.  Our work this semester is praxis-oriented: in addition to reading a diverse body of scholarship examining root causes for educational failure and limited life chances for adolescent African American males, we will conduct participant-observations of the My Brother’s Keeper Program (MBK) for at-risk Black males. This will site visits at the Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy, a K - 8th-grade Detroit Public School.

     

    RCAH292C-Independent Engagement

    Section 001

    Independent Engagement

    292C courses are unique, independent engagements of variable credit negotiated between students, community partners, and RCAH faculty. They assume that the student and the community have established a relationship of mutual respect, trust, and benefit. They also assume a high level of passion and experience. These courses focus heavily on the action and insight areas of the RCAH Civic Engagement model. Students select and work with a specific faculty of record and community partner to develop and implement the syllabus and the engagement program for the course. For more information about the courses, pre-requisites and how to enroll, contact Vincent Delgado, Assistant Dean for Civic Engagement (delgado1@msu.edu).

     

    RCAH310-Childhood and Society

    Section 001 (Torrez) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    Indigenous Ways of Learning

    Indigenous knowledge is as varied and diverse as Indigenous peoples, however the tie that binds Indigenous thought is the commitment to community, land, and language. In this course, we will discuss the various points that marginalized communities struggle to identify and affirm knowledge on their own terms. We will specifically examine how Indigenous communities bridge their own knowledge systems with colonial methods of schooling. While primarily focused on the Americas, this course will also include discussion of Maori kōhanga reo (language nests) as a pivotal educational model for Indigenous peoples.

     

    RCAH330-Nature and Culture

    Section 001 (Yoder) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    The Ethics of Being and Becoming Human

    In this course we will draw upon material from philosophy, literature, art, and history to explore multiple versions of the questions, “What does it mean to be human?”  Is there such a thing as a fixed human nature or is it something malleable that is in flux? How is technology affecting how we think about human nature? Are there moral limits to how we can create and enhance humans, and if so, what are they? The goal of the course is to explore such questions.

     

    Section 002 (Skeen) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Appalachian Literature and Culture

    The primary goal of this course is to explore the history of the Appalachian region through looking at documentary and popular film, scholarly and personal essays, and the work of poets and fiction writers from Appalachia.  As West Virginia is the only state completely in the Appalachians, we will focus our study on the literature and culture of that state and learn how it is both representative of and different from other areas of Appalachia. We will work to comprehend the richness of this region, past and present, and explore the themes of regional folklore and music, fine art and local craft, the power of religious and family tradition, and isolation and community.  For students who would like to spend a little time in Appalachia (for an additional cost of approximately $300) the course will include an excursion to Water Gap Retreat in Elkins, West Virginia from September 18-21, 2015 for a weekend of regional history and culture.

     

    RCAH380-Third Year Tutorial

    Section 001 (Aronoff) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    Imagining Other Worlds: The Literature and Neuroscience of Science-Fiction Worldbuilding

    This course will pick up on and examine more rigorously two themes touched on in my RCAH 340: Fictions of Science and Technology:  ideas of anthropology, culture and race explored through key texts of science fiction in the 20th and early 21st Centuries; and the neuroscience of the literary imagination.  (As such, the course would be an ideal follow-up for students who have taken my RCAH 340, or a “prequel” for those planning to take it in the future, but there is no prerequisite and students just beginning to explore issues in science fiction are welcome.)  The course will be divided roughly into two phases. First, we will examine the ways in which the “world building” techniques characteristic of much science fiction – creating coherent, detailed imaginary worlds (and even universes), with their own histories, languages, “cultures,” species – has both drawn upon, and participated in, anthropological understandings of the very concept of “culture” and “race” itself. We will examine concrete connections between the discipline of anthropology and science fiction, and ways science fiction writers have explored, developed, reinforced or challenged ideas of culture, language, race and gender. Assigned authors will include Ursula LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Neal Stephenson, Nalo Hopkinson, and others.  

    If the first half of the course focuses on how science fiction authors imagine new worlds, the second half turns to the way science has explored the ways in which we imagine those worlds, to examine developments at the intersection of neuroscience and aesthetics.  With increasingly sophisticated brain imaging technology, and with the rising prestige of evolutionary psychology, more scientists are asking what precisely is happening in the brain when we contemplate art, become immersed in a novel, or listen to music. What happens when a reader reacts emotionally to, or cares about, literary characters that they know are fictional?  What in the human brain – psychologically, physiologically – allows this to happen, and why have humans evolved with this capacity? This course will combine an investigation of the latest scientific research on these questions, along with works of science fiction which likewise probe the questions of what is the role of “imagination” and “art” in our definitions of the human.

     

    Section 002 (Loeb) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Women and Art

    Do today’s visual arts, from painting to performance art, baffle you, excite you, or leave you cold? Chances are they do all three, depending. Many of the approaches that artists use today have their roots in challenging artworks made by women artists in the 1970s. What did these artists do that led their work to have such a far-reaching impact? Do works created today continue to embody their spirit and insights?

    In this course, we will look at innovations and experimentation in such watershed works as the collaborative, site-specific, temporary installations in Womanhouse (Los Angeles, 1972), the collaborative, multi-media construction of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party (1974-79), and the development of Miriam Schapiro’s concept of femmage. Through these pieces, women artists decisively shifted how art was made and thought about.

    In the guided project that is the focus of a Third-Year Tutorial, you will then explore how contemporary artists relate to the core of new ideas opened up by these earlier artists: recovery of women artists of the past; development of alternative media; collaboration; interrogation of issues of the body, identity, power, and the media; shaping public space; community engagement; and re-evaluation of dominant aesthetic ideas. How have these emphases changed? How do today’s more globalized women artists relate to them and lead them in new directions?

    The guided project can be a research paper, a visual presentation, a study of a local arts venue, or another endeavor that you develop in consultation with me.

     

    RCAH390-Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Torrez) | M 8:00 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

    The Multilingual Classroom

    In this course, we will investigate issues of language attrition and revitalization. We will focus on how language is affected by educational policy, particularly through the emergence (and transformation) of bilingual education. Through seminar-style learning we will discuss the following questions: Are languages equal? Why should younger generations learn a heritage language in a globalized economy? Should resource-strapped educational systems expend funds to provide multilingual education? Should we separate students into homogenous linguistic groups? In addition to these questions, students will investigate how schools are working with heritage language communities to become active agents in maintaining language and protecting their community’s way of life.

    *Consider for ILO

     

    Section 002 (Plough) | Tu 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Intercultural Communication

    This course provides an introduction to fundamental concepts of intercultural communication.  Examples of verbal and nonverbal exchanges are discussed to build an understanding of the diverse ways of communicating and of the processes of intercultural communication. An awareness of communication behavior – including one’s own – and its consequences is increased through readings of relevant literature and through an examination of intercultural encounters.  Reflective tasks are used to view one’s own communication style from an external perspective.

     

    RCAH395-Special Topics-Arts & Humanities

    Section 002 (Baibak) | Tu 3:00 p.m. - 3:50 p.m., Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    This special topics course will deepen interdisciplinary scholarship developed between freshman RCAH and College of Engineering students during a summer 2014 study away in Detroit. Through readings, discussions, reflection, design labs and active and applied collaboration, students will work in teams to develop their own “cultures of creativity” in designing, testing and implementing technological solutions meant to address regional challenges. With assistance from the Ford Community Fund, the result will be robust, useful and something that no one has ever seen before. While we will review current organizational scholarship on the idea of interdisciplinary creativity and innovation through the process, we will also use an anthropological lens to look at how teams, including ours, work.

     

    RCAH492-Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Miner) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Beyond Capitalism: Senior Seminar in Radical Theory

    Can a world outside or beyond capitalism exist?  If it could, what would it look like? Moreover, is this anti-capitalist option one we should even explore?  In this senior seminar, we will investigate various theorists, activists, movements, and artists as they articulate, to borrow a phrase from the Zapatistas, ‘another possible world’.  Using Prof. Miner’s expertise in Indigenous, Third World, anti-colonial, and anarchist movements, we will pay particular attention to the ways in which these movements have attempted to form ‘the structure of the new society within the shell of the old,’ to use the language of the IWW.   As in other RCAH courses, creative and artistic exploration will be central to our working through these questions.



    Spring 2016 Courses


    RCAH112-Writing Research Technologies

    Section 001 (Aronoff) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Our America:  Cultures of American Modernism, 1919-1930

    The focus of this section of RCAH 112 is the idea of “American culture” as it is renegotiated and reimagined in the United States in the 1920s and 30s. More accurately, we might say we are investigating shifts in “American” “culture,” since, we will discover, both of these terms – what it means to be an “American” and what it means to “have culture” – undergo crucial and complex shifts in this period.  As many scholars have observed, Americans in the post-WWI era were intensively searching to define a specifically American cultural identity. On one hand, Americans experienced the pride and economic prosperity that came from their emergence from WWI as a world power, while also struggling with the social and philosophical questions about the very nature of modern industrial civilization the War brought with it.  At the same time, unprecedented waves of new immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe reached U.S. shores, and new social and political movements -- labor unions, socialism and communism, the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan and the upsurge in racial violence -- created a sense of social instability and rapid change. In response to what were perceived as new conditions, writers, artists, politicians, and social scientists sought new ways   -- from the Immigration Act of 1924 to Van Wyck Brooks' calls to find a "usable past” -- to define what was specifically "American" about America, to create new versions of American identity.

     

    But even as American writers and critics in the ‘20s attempted to redefine the content of a particularly “American” culture, the form of culture as a concept – what counted as “culture” –  was itself undergoing radical transformations. While in the 19th Century “culture” designated a universal hierarchy of artistic or intellectual achievement – Matthew Arnold's "the best that has been thought and said," or, within the field of ethnology, E.B. Tylor’s evolutionary stages of development – in the 1920s and 30s, alongside and in tension with these previous definitions, “culture” is broadly reconceived as an entire “way of life” that is relative, plural, and above all “whole,” “unified” and “meaningful.”

     

    This section, then, will examine debates over “American” culture, race, national identity and art in the modernist period.  Looking at various primary documents, with particular attention to the arts (modernist poetry, literature, jazz and other media), we will ask:  how do these texts imagine the relationship between “race,” “nation,” and “culture”? How do these constructions engage debates over immigration, assimilation and pluralism?  What is the relationship between racial and /or cultural identity and political identity (or citizenship)? What is the relationship between “culture,” art, and new modes technologies? Is industrialism and its methods the end of “culture” as “high art,” or the beginning of a new kind of “culture”?  How did new forms of artistic expression (broadly speaking, “modernist” art) respond to, challenge, or incorporate these new social conditions? We will then think about how these modernist debates reverberate in contemporary, 21st Century contexts, in questions of transnational migration, national identity, cultural “ownership” and authenticity, etc. The breadth of these questions will allow for a wide variety of approaches and specific interest:  like all sections of 112, we will be able to pursue the burning questions we raise by developing our skills as researchers and writers.

     

    Section 002 (Hamilton-Wray) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.                            

    Black Female Cinema      

    Many Black female cultural producers simultaneously engage in acts of affirmation and revision in their work. These artists create, as all artists do, to affirm their existence as human beings. However, Black female artists are often driven by a political need to revise deeply established controlling images in popular culture. They create to challenge and recode images that influence the policies and practices of various institutions in the everyday lives of Black girls and women.  This course specifically looks at the social, political, economic, and artistic implications of black female-centered cinema. Students will develop a background in black feminist theory and cultural studies film theory to investigate this cinema and to gain an understanding of the role of black female-centered cinema in society. Using the film literacy developed in the class, students will create an in-depth study of an alternative cinema.

     

    Section 003 (Monberg) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    Listening for Legacies as a Method for Engagement

    To engage with other ideas, people, and communities requires that we actively listen to the legacies that came before us. This listening happens recursively as we build relationships and remain accountable to the communities and collaborations that sustain us. This course explores listening as a method for research and a method for working with communities. Bringing these two processes together, the course will explore research on civic engagement: how it’s become increasingly common in undergraduate education, how we hope students and communities benefit from these collaborative projects, and how research might play a role in how projects emerge, evolve, and thrive.

    Throughout the semester, we will explore “listening for legacies” as a method that shapes the way we ask questions, the kinds of sources we consult, the methods we use to gather and tell stories about data, and how we circulate those stories and for what purposes. Student research projects will focus on some aspect of civic engagement with the intent of contributing to a larger project or conversation. The class is intended to prepare students to conduct traditional academic research and prepare argumentative papers and poster sessions based on that research. And because research is a highly collaborative activity, we will spend a significant amount of time in class discussing and responding to one another’s projects through various stages of the research process.

     

    Section 004 (Jackson) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    Black Popular Culture and Social Movements

    This section of RCAH 112, “Black Popular Culture and Social Movements,” will explore the function of culture in maintaining or resisting unjust structures of power.  We will critically examine course readings and a wide array of cultural artifacts – from Civil Rights rhetoric and Black Power aesthetics to Rap music and Hip Hop culture – for insight into the ways that oppressed groups produce meaning, desire, agency, and identity.  Additionally, we will move from consumers of Black popular culture to producers, as we will experiment with composing rhetorics and cultures of resistance with the aim of changing the world around us. 

     

    Section 005 (Yoder) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    Researching and Writing about Ethical Issues

    While questions in bioethics are often considered to be very personal, they are also at the heart of many public controversies.  In this course we will use both public and scholarly reflection on bioethical issues to deepen our understanding of the practice of research and writing in the humanities.  We will use this material in order to increase our understanding of 1) what it means to do research in the humanities, 2) how to use writing as a means of inquiry, 3) how to evaluate and construct arguments, and 4) how to conduct and present a research project in the humanities.  Each student will produce a thesis-driven research paper on a relevant topic of their choice, a project utilizing an alternative format for presenting the results of their research, and a writing portfolio documenting both these final products and the processes used to produce them. 

     

    RCAH192-Proseminar

    Section 001 (Halpern) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Design for Social Good

    This course is an introduction to product and interaction design as well as an exploration of what it means to create something that has positive social impact. Many high profile design projects that attempt to do good, like One Laptop per Child, fall short. Where did these well funded and well intended ideas go wrong? In this course, students will learn the basic principles of design (with a focus specifically, though not exclusively, on technology and interaction design) as well as strategies and methods for engaging with users drawn from user centered design, co-design, and reflective design practices. Throughout the course students will engage in critical thinking about the roles of designers and users, the social and ethical implications of technologies and designed objects, and the larger contexts in which these objects and users exist. Coursework will include a mixture of readings, design exercises, case studies, and a final group project in which students will work with a local organization or group to develop a design that will help those served by the organization.

     

    Section 002 (Hamilton-Wray) | Tu Th 1:00 p.m. - 2:20 p.m.

    Introduction to Film Studies: Coming of Age in America

    This seminar introduces students to the field of Film Studies through the popular “coming-of-age” genre. The coming-of-age film genre deals with young people going through developmental stages of early youth to adolescence or adolescence to adulthood. Coming-of-age films are particularly valuable in looking at family structure, gender roles, generational conflict, values, and beliefs. In addition, these films aid in the discussion of the historical presence and contemporary issues of various racial, ethnic and other social identity groups in the United States. Through literature, scholarly readings, film screenings and visiting artists, students will explore the genre’s history, content, form and ideology. Additionally, students will develop and employ skills to investigate why this medium is so frequently employed by artists, what the impact of these films are on their spectators, and how these films lay the groundwork for difficult public discourse.

     

    RCAH203-Transcultural Relations

    Section 001 (Bosse) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Caribbean Music and the Sound of Globalization

    It has been said that the Caribbean is the cradle of globalization. As such, Caribbean music provides a sonic testimony to the movement of peoples, goods, and communities that began in the colonial era and continues to this day.  Drawing upon traditions from the Spanish-, French-, and English-speaking Caribbean, students will connect contemporary musical performance to historical processes of colonization and globalization. As a phenomenon that is bound so deeply to identity of people and place, and yet travels through time and space independently of the people who make it, music provides an ideal sonic vantage point from which to study issues of transculturation. Throughout this semester, we will listen to, write about, talk about, read about, and perform the various genres in question. This course is open to everyone, no matter your level of music knowledge.  One need not be a musician to participate and succeed in this course.  

     

    Section 002 (Loeb) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Transculturation Through the Ages: The Global Modern

    This course looks at modernity through the eyes of visual artists who were confronting the new pace and demands of urban, industrialized life for the first time. How did artists represent this new world? What kinds of challenges and opportunities did they face? How could art stand up to a world dominated by commercial relations?

    These questions arose not only for artists living in Europe and the United States, but also for those in far-flung places increasingly changed by contact with modernity and its effects through trade, tourism, and colonization. As distances began to shrink, leading to more interactions among artists internationally, what kinds of exchanges occurred and how did these affect the directions that art took?

     

    Section 003 (Kaplowitz) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Racial Identity in the United States: Collision Course or Melting Pot?

    This section of RCAH 203 looks at transculturation from the perspective of racial and ethnic group identity in the United States.  We will explore how racial and ethnic groups’ cultural practices are manifested, shared, challenged, assimilated and appropriated. We will explore such questions as: What is culture? How do people “perform” culture? What are different aspects of racialized culture? Is there a culture of poverty, and how does it intersect with race and ethnicity? We will seek to understand how different races and ethnic groups’ cultural norms in the US impact one another, and how they sometimes clash with each other.  We will also explore the US dominant narrative of the “melting pot.” We will learn how to talk about race with one another. We will use film, literature, social media, news outlets, outside experts, popular culture, music and dialogue with one another to develop our understanding of racial and ethnic transculturation within the US.

     

    Section 004 (Esquith) | Tu Th 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Encountering the Other through Transcultural Change

    We live at a time when different cultures are mixing, resisting, and absorbing each other rapidly. It is a process that has occurred in different ways, at different times, and in different places.  However, as Fernando Ortiz has noted, four basic questions tend to recur. 

    • What happens when cultures and peoples conflict?
    • How have art and culture defined the 'known world' and mediated these conflicts?
    • Are all cultures the same in value from an ethical point of view, or are there higher and lower cultures?
    • What can we learn about the strengths and weaknesses of our own culture(s) through the study of other cultures and encounters with other cultures?

    To discuss these four questions, we will begin with Herodotus's History of the Persian Wars. Herodotus is often referred to as the first historian.  He is also an acute observer of the ways in which cultures encounter one another and the judgments that individuals make about cultures other than their own.  Then, in Travels with Herodotus by the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski we will see how a 20th century journalist and cultural critic retraces Herodotus’s steps in order to address these same four questions.

     

    RCAH291-Arts Workshop

    Section 001 (Baibak) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Reclamation Studio Project

    Reclamation Studio Project is a workshop based on gleaning, reuse, and transformation of found, second-hand, or inherited objects. The course is designed to help alter our perception of objects, so we can see them as an available resource for base materials: plastic, metal, wood, or fiber. We will dissect forms to discover their potential frameworks, cavities, openings, and abstract forms. We will look at connective materials, including bolt, wires, rivets, interlocking tabs, springs, hinges, and lashings. There will be experiments in surfacing objects (the great transformer), through sanding, abrading, eroding, denting, shredding, and re-dressing them in new skins.

    In this course, we will work with applied methods of creation, some existing and some yet to be discovered, that will help us investigate and design new forms. These methods will aid us in constructing objects that visually and physically enhance our daily passage. A few of the objects we’ll construct will be abstract, ornaments of pure aesthetics. The abstract becomes a way of exploring material relationships and potentialities without having to conceive a meaning. Other projects will shed light on the use of available resources to create practical objects. We will examine the utilitarian and abstract, and the importance of both. The class will read articles about reusing materials from “our great abundance.”

    Reclamation Studio’s goal is to help us to become more aware of available resources and to highlight our own responsibility as consumers.

     

    Section 002 (Scales) | M W 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Digital Music Production

    This class involves the creation and performance of music through creative engagement with various music technologies including digital recording systems, sound synthesis software, and audio/video production software.  The course will focus on developing skills working with in a number computer based music recording software programs as well as familiarizing ourselves with different kinds of microphones and microphone placements. We will study and practice all facets of music production, including recording, mixing, and mastering. We will also examine the effects of new music technologies on the cultures of music making and music listening.

     

    Section 003 (Herliczek) | M W  5:00 p.m. - 6:50 p.m.

    Photography as Activism

    In this class, students will study historical and contemporary examples of photography as a tool for social justice, and will learn the technical and creative skills necessary to create their own social documentary projects. We will research contemporary photographers and study their techniques in conceiving, funding, photographing, editing, publishing and marketing photography projects for social change. This is a beginning photography course. No previous experience will be assumed, but previous experience will be welcomed. It would be highly desirable to have a DSLR camera, but if that is not possible we can make arrangements for members to get access to one.

     

    Section 004 (Skeen) | Tu  3:00 p.m. - 6:50 p.m.

    Book Arts

    Ever want to print your own poem or story the way it was done 100 years ago? To make your own book? To collaborate on a book? If so, join a writer, a printer, a bookbinder, and a book historian in a semester long workshop where you learn about both the books you read and the books you make. You'll get to spend some time in the Special Collections at the MSU Library looking at, and touching, books that are hundreds of years old at well as learning about the library's collection of contemporary artists' books. Hand set type in the art studio, work with visiting artists who might specialize in anything from papermaking to medieval book bindings, and, in the end, make your own books.  Each semester’s course will have a different thematic or structural focus.

     

    Section 005 (Newman) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Dance as Human Experience

    Why do humans have an innate impulse to move, to dance? Through observation and exploration, students begin with a personal journey, from noticing ordinary movement to recognizing the extraordinary choices and possibilities that dance offers. Relationships to the broader context of history, culture, communication, social issues, and aesthetics are realized over the arc of experience. Students in this class can expect to move, to discover, to create, to write. They will learn to recognize dance/movement as an everyday tool by which humans experience and interpret life. No previous dance experience necessary.

     

    Section 006 (Miner) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Poster Workshop

    During this workshop, students will learn the basic language and technique of serigraphy, a printing process commonly known as the screenprint or silkscreen.  Over the course of the semester, we will cover many of the major poster artists, collectives, and movements, particularly those working throughout the Americas.  Running parallel to students’ own poster production will be their reading about and understanding the noteworthy poster history of the past fifty years. We will pay particular attentions to 1: ospaal, Cuba ‘59; 2: Atelier Populaire, France ‘68; 3. Movimiento Estudiantil, Mexico ‘68; 4: Chicano Poster Collectives, Aztlán ‘69; 5: Working-class and Labor Unions, usa post-‘30s; and 6: current poster practices today.  From this historical material, students will create posters that address social and political issues, while placing their own work within the radical poster tradition.

     

    RCAH292A-Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Monberg) | Tu 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Serving versus Sustaining Communities

    This proseminar prepares students for civic engagement in the RCAH and beyond by exploring the differences between serving a community and sustaining one over time. The United States has a “distinct culture” of nonprofit and community-based organizations that depend on volunteerism (Stewart and Casey 2013). And while volunteerism has its place in community-based work, it often privileges a short-term commitment and a short-term understanding of communities. But communities—and the social, racial, local, and global contexts in which they exist and operate—change over time, meaning that community-based organizations are continually challenged to reassess what work is possible and necessary at different points in time.

    This proseminar will introduce students to the RCAH approach to civic engagement by exploring the challenges of building and sustaining community-based institutions, movements, and partnerships and the role that students might play in these processes. We will explore debates on volunteerism and engagement, talk with community organizers and partners, and become more familiar with community partnerships that have been built with the RCAH. The aim of the course is to help students appreciate what drives community-based movements, how the context surrounding these movements shifts over time, and how the arts and humanities are central to “designing a more democratic, just, and sustainable world” (RCAH website).

     

    Section 002 (Delgado,V.) | W 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    This proseminar on engagement will use hands-on learning to motivate, excite, inspire and sensitize students to deeper reflection and civic engagement activities in the college. Through discussions on the nature of civic engagement, students will engage in discovery of their own community as well as new communities across campus and mid-Michigan.  We will explore the critical engagement concepts of place, passion, imagination, peace and justice in structured dialogue with groups that may include youth groups, refugees, people with disabilities, activists and artists in mid-Michigan. These dialogues will result in works of art, reflection and narrative that are meant to effect positive social change. This activity will provide focus for our work. But we’ll add in texts, multimedia resources and additional hands-on activities throughout to prepare us for higher-level thinking and involvement in engagement course work and community-based activism.

     

    RCAH292B-Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Torrez) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Nuestros Cuentos/Gadabaajimowinaanin/Our Stories

    In this course, we will partner with the Lansing School District and local Latino and Indigenous elders  to create and implement programming meant to bolster the Latino and Indigenous student voice. Highlighting the Latino and American Indian/First Nations experience in Michigan, RCAH, College Assistance Migrant Program,  and LSD students will collaboratively work to tell the story of Lansing's Latino and Indigenous communities, both past and present. Engaging with elementary students, we will assist in their learning about the importance of their own story and their impact in the community. This course will be linked with Prof. Miner’s RCAH 291 Creative Workshop. The engagement portion of this course is scheduled from 3:30-5:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays at Pattengill Middle School and Mt. Hope Elementary School. *Consider for ILO

     

    Section 002 (Jackson) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    "We Real Cool:" Educational Interventions for Adolescent At-Risk Black Males

    In her poem “We Real Cool,” Gwendolyn Brooks dramatically expresses, with honest simplicity and painful clarity, the fate of the “cool.”  For Brooks, “cool” people express themselves by leaving school and entering a dark world, intensely made problematic by “sin” and “soon” dying.  This section of RCAH 292B invites students to explore these issues by looking hard at the intersection between coolness and literacy as enacted within classroom spaces.  Our work this semester is praxis-oriented: in addition to reading a diverse body of scholarship examining root causes for educational failure and limited life chances for adolescent African American males, we will conduct participant-observations of the My Brother’s Keeper Program (MBK) for at-risk Black males. This will site visits at the Paul Robeson Malcolm X Academy, a K - 8th-grade Detroit Public School.

     

    Section 003 (Brooks) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Health and Wellness in Our Communities

    This course on engagement and reflection assists students with developing a deeper understanding of civic engagement and cultivates a fervent commitment to improving personal and community health and wellness. Students will be introduced to issues and challenges affecting the health and well-being of our communities. Using an interdisciplinary approach from the arts, humanities, and social sciences, this course explores the historical, physiological, psychological, spiritual, social, environmental, and occupational forces influencing our health behaviors and lifestyle choices. Topics explored consist of historical and cultural perspectives on health/wellness, psycho-social challenges to healthy living, environmental concerns, chronic diseases, alternative interventions and resources, and health policy studies. The goals of this course are to improve health literacy, drawn attention to health disparities, and encourage greater participation in physical activity.

     

    Section 004 (Delgado, G.) | Tu 11:30 a.m. - 3:20 p.m.

    Prison Poetry ‘Zine Project

    This civic engagement course uses prison arts as a way to help create positive social change in our prison system and beyond. Through weekly visits to a prison, we will explore poetry with inmates and collaborate in creating and publishing a poetry ‘zine. We will investigate and gain an understanding of the power of poetry and its impact on the incarcerated by immersing ourselves in the works of poets who wrote while in prison, including Jimmy Baca Santiago and Etheridge Knight. We will plan a culminating event that allows the poems and ‘zine to be heard and shared outside the prison walls.

     

    RCAH292C-Independent Engagement

    Section 001

    292C courses are unique, independent engagements of variable credit negotiated between students, community partners, and RCAH faculty. They assume that the student and the community have established a relationship of mutual respect, trust, and benefit. They also assume a high level of passion and experience. These courses focus heavily on the action and insight areas of the RCAH Civic Engagement model. Students select and work with a specific faculty of record and community partner  to develop and implement the syllabus and the engagement program for the course. For more information about the courses, pre-requisites and how to enroll, contact Vincent Delgado, Assistant Dean for Civic Engagement (delgado1@msu.edu).

     

    RCAH320-Art and Public Life

    Section 001 (Bosse) | Tu Th 2:40 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

    Whiteness and Performance 

    This course engages students in whiteness theory, a body of literature that makes explicit the values of white America, how they are made public and manifest, and how they have historically (and problematically) become synonymous with “American” or even universal values and practices. Students will analyze case studies drawn from popular culture, including music, dance, film, and television and will also reflect on their own unique relationship to the concept of whiteness. 

     

    RCAH340-Technology and Creativity

    Section 001 (Aronoff) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    Creativity and Technology:  Fictions of Science and Technology

    This course will examine the interplay between scientific philosophies, technology and literature.  We will explore this interplay in terms of both content and form: in other words, we will study the ways in which the “subject matter” of science and technology – the theories, discoveries, inventions of science – are explored within novels and short stories to probe their implications for our conceptions of society, the self, and art; we will also think about how scientific “ways of knowing” – rationality, empiricism, linear narrative – have been deployed and resisted to shape the genres of the realist novel, detective fiction, gothic tales and science fiction.  Finally, we will also think about how the technology of the book itself shapes the kinds of narratives that can be produced, and how new technologies – the internet, hypertext, etc. – might produce new kinds of narratives.

     

    RCAH380-Third Year Tutorial

    Section 001 (Yoder) | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    Religion without God? – Topics in Religious Naturalism

    “Religious naturalism” is a term that emerged in the 1980s from a wide ranging conversation between theologians, scientists, and philosophers of religion. Though it is an umbrella term used to cover a range of positions, the intellectual terrain included in religious naturalism is roughly defined by two shared commitments. The first is a commitment to naturalism, to the premise that we should look to the natural world, rather than some supernatural realm to explain and give meaning to our experience. The second is the claim that this commitment to naturalism does not preclude religion, that there can be authentic religious responses to the world that do not depend on the existence of a supernatural realm.

    In addition to exploring religious naturalism the course is designed to help students further develop their research and writing skills. We will spend the first part of the course reading and discussing a common set of materials. Out of these discussions students will develop ideas for their own independent research projects. We will select topics and readings for the second part of the course to support students in their research. Student will complete their research projects with guidance from the instructor and assistance from the rest of the group functioning as a community of scholars.

     

    Section 002 (Scott) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.

    Explorations in African American Literature

    This course will examine selected literary works by African American writers such as Richard Wright,  Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and Toni Morrison with a particular emphasis on the work of James Baldwin as it contributes to an ongoing conversation (and argument) around the representation of race, love, sex, power and politics in American life.   Recently, Baldwin has been widely quoted, especially since the verdicts in Ferguson and Staten Island, yet he is not widely read in school compared to other authors of equal stature. We will explore some of the reasons for this neglect and examine his legacy in relationship to other African American writers and the ways in which his critiques of race and sex may still speak to contemporary audiences.  Students will write informal short response papers to prepare for discussion and develop their own final research projects.

     

    RCAH390-Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Torrez) | M 8:00 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

    Reclaiming Language and Schools

    Many heritage language communities have endured colonization through practices of forced relocation, boarding schools, English-Only policies, or genocide in the pursuit of societal progress and economic stability. Individuals have countered oppression through assimilation or by hiding traditional sociolinguistic practices from dominant culture. Oftentimes, these acts of ‘survivance’ have left younger generations curious about their ancestors’ knowledge and buried knowledge systems. As communities continue to reclaim schools as spaces to teach younger generations ‘traditional’ ways, young people are creatively imagining practices that bridge traditions with new forms of cultural expression. 

    *Consider for ILO

     

    Section 002 (Plough) | Tu 10:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m.

    Intercultural Communication

    This course provides an introduction to fundamental concepts of intercultural communication.  Examples of verbal and nonverbal exchanges are discussed to build an understanding of the diverse ways of communicating and of the processes of intercultural communication. An awareness of communication behavior – including one’s own – and its consequences is increased through readings of relevant literature and through an examination of intercultural encounters.  Reflective tasks are used to view one’s own communication style from an external perspective.

     

    Section 003 (Haviland) | W 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Language, Culture and Power

    This class explores the relationship between language and culture, and the various approaches that have been used to describe and analyze it. The course includes a variety of topics that will both introduce and orient students to the structural, social and cultural intersections of language.  We will read some fundamental articles on language and address the ways in which language shapes cultural meanings. We will also examine the role of language in social life, including how language simultaneously reflects social roles and helps to create them. Finally, we will address some of the important consequences of language and power, including the role of language in producing social, racial and gender inequality.

     

    RCAH395-Special Topics in the Arts and Humanities

    Section 001 (Skeen) | Tu Th 10:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

    Harry Potter:  Why the Boy Who Lived Lives On

    Who is Harry Potter and why has he become the phenomenon he has?  What makes this story of a boy wizard so compelling to both children and adults?  What worlds do we construct/remember as adults that capture our childhood visions and fantasy worlds?  Why would we, too, like to be educated at Hogwarts? We’ll address such issues as ethics and morality; technology, magic and religion; feminism and friendship, to name a few.  We’ll also consider the literary elements of the Harry Potter saga, discuss the resonance his story has through history and philosophy, as well as in our own lives and times, and engage in some creative projects to explore our relationship to such mythic tales.

    “Books may be the only real magic.”

    --Alice Hoffman

     

    Section 002 (Delgado, G.)  | M W 12:40 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

    The Art of Walking

    This interdisciplinary arts course looks at walking as a medium for creativity. Through mindful walking, students will discover deeper questions and meaning from our surrounding landscapes by drawing, painting, photographing, writing, and mapping our walks. Throughout the course, we will explore the walking praxis of artists and thinkers including Rebecca Solnit, Mary Oliver, Thich Nhat Hanh, Barry Lopez, Edward Hirsh, and Gabriel Orozco.

     

    RCAH492-Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Sheridan) | Tu Th 12:40 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    RCAHspace: The Role of Space in Nurturing Community, Creativity, and Learning

    In designing Pixar's headquarters, Steve Jobs famously wanted to limit restrooms to a small number located in the center of the building.  This would force people to congregate in a central spot multiple times during the day. And when people congregate, they talk and share ideas, fueling the creative process.

    This anecdote hints at the power of space to nurture two things that the RCAH values: social connections and the creative process.  In fact, our own space is designed with these goals in mind. We have places like LookOut!, the LMC, Serenity, and many other communal spaces aimed at supporting creativity, community, and learning.  Cities, too, have such spaces. Nearby, Old Town, Lansing, for instance, has become a creative hub.

    This class will use a number of lenses to explore the role of space helping us achieve things that we value.  We will examine what scholars and workers have said about work spaces, educational spaces, and civic spaces. We will visit exemplary spaces around and beyond campus.  Exploratory questions include: What makes a space effective? Exciting? Enchanting?

    The RCAH will serve as a chief example throughout the course.  By this point, all of us have had many experiences in RCAH spaces.  What can we learn from these experiences? How can we study the way RCAH spaces are used, modified, resisted by students, faculty, and staff?  How can we transform RCAH spaces so that they more effectively support the things we value?

    These are not just idle questions.  Students in this course will be invited to contribute to proposals for transforming RCAHspace.

     

    Section 002 (Scales) | M W 3:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

    Who Owns Culture?: Cultural Property and Creativity in the Twenty-First Century

    In this course we will examine the legal, ethical, and cultural stakes related to current international conversations about intellectual property and cultural property and how these conversations will effect what Lawrence Lessig has called the “nature and future of creativity.”  In studying these issues we will ask such basic questions as: What is the relationship between shared cultural knowledge and individual creativity? Is it possible (or desirable) for a social group to “own” and “control” their cultural practices. Is there an inherent value for society in a “cultural commons,” and if so, how do we balance the ownership “rights” of individuals with those of larger communities?  These conversations are vital and immediate for RCAH students who are planning careers within the North American “creative economy.” As such, the most important outcome of this course will be the development of some very real and tangible possible policy recommendations, research papers, or creative works that confront these issues in meaningful and socially helpful ways.

  • 2014-15

    Fall 2014 Courses

    RCAH111: Writing in Transcultural Contexts

    Section 001 (Eric Aronoff)

    Telling Stories:  Composing Knowledge in Transcultural Contexts

    In this section of RCAH 111, we will focus on the connection between culture and “storytelling,” broadly conceived.  That is, we will examine the ways in which culture shapes the ways we perceive the world around us, and how we organize those perceptions into oral and written narratives – be they what we conventionally would call “stories” like personal narratives, myths or novels, or other genres like scientific, academic or philosophical writing, each with their own generic rules for the “stories” they tell.  Drawing primarily on essays, short stories, novels and graphic novels, we will be particularly interested in what happens when different “cultures,” or ways of knowing and writing, collide, clash or mix, in a process we will call “transculturation.” In what ways, we will ask, does “culture” provide us with narratives, patterns, genres – what we might call “stories” -- through which we “shape” our experience into something meaningful?  In what ways do we deploy, bend, mix these “stories”? In what ways are cultural “ways of knowing” embodied in (or constituted by, or complicated through) different genres of writing? What do each of these ways of knowing/writing/storytelling reveal or enable us to see, and what might they leave out? Readings may include Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus, among others. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (David Sheridan)

    Transculturation in Michigan

    This class will investigate narratives of transculturation in Michigan, including stories set in Detroit, Benton Harbor, the Upper Peninsula, and mid-Michigan. These stories will help launch conversations about the challenges that emerge when diverse cultural groups come into contact. As a class, we will write about/against/in-response-to these narratives, producing a wide range of compositions, from analytical essays to multimedia projects.

     

    Section 003 (Terese Monberg)

    Travel, Migration, & Exile

    This course explores what it means to travel, cross borders, migrate, be displaced or exiled. Readings and discussion will focus on the different reasons people are prompted to travel or migrate, allowing us to examine tensions between home and travel, migration and exile, local and global communities, place and memory. Writing projects will ask students to apply concepts to their own experiences and to parallel cases of tourism, travel, migration, displacement, or exile. Students will have numerous opportunities to conceive, draft, revise, and complete writing projects tailored to various audiences.

     

    Section 004 (Austin Jackson)

    Race, Rhetoric, and the Arts of Resistance

    We will explore the role of language and culture within popular struggles for racial, social, and economic justice. Our task this semester is three-fold: we will 1) explore the intersecting rhetorics of race, class, and gender; 2) examine the role that writing has played in re-inscribing or resisting existing power relations in society; and 3) experiment with various modes of argumentation (from academic essays, dialogic journal writing, individual and group presentations, poetry, and visual art), writing in various genres or styles for multiple audiences and different rhetorical situations.

     

    Section 005 (Katie Wittenauer)

    The Writing of Food: Identity, Culture, and Conversation

    Throughout this course, we will explore the dialogues surrounding food-centric issues on local, national, and international levels and examine our own understanding of the relationships between food, identity, and culture. Through examining the diverse perspectives in a wide range of genres, including documentary film, non-fiction, food blogs, cookbooks, and advertisements, and by reflecting on and analyzing these conversations through composing in academic, professional and public genres for a range of audiences, we will work toward participating in and understanding the impact of the food-centric writing, activities and conversations that surround us. 

     

    Section 006 (John Meyers)

    Music, Technology, and Culture

    Developments in technology have vastly changed how we listen to music over the past century, from player pianos and the birth of recording in the late 1800s to contemporary controversies over sampling, Auto-Tune, and MP3s. In this course, we will examine how critics, musicians, and listeners have responded to these changes through various kinds of writing. What were their reactions to these changes? What did they hope their writing would accomplish? Whom were they addressing? By responding to a wide range of cases, students will begin to understand how similar issues and themes have played out over a long history, far beyond the latest Youtube viral video. In our own writing assignments, the emphasis will be on constructing arguments about music, technology, and culture supported by appropriate evidence, always carefully considering the audience for whom we are writing. 

     

    RCAH192 Proseminar

    Section 001 (Scot Yoder)

    Private Faith and Public Life.

    In the U.S. we seem to have a tenuous relationship with religion. On the one hand, officially the U.S. is a “secular” nation with no state religion and a constitution that guarantees the separation of church and state. On the other hand, in many ways we are a deeply religious nation. Surveys consistently suggest that a majority of citizens believe in God and religious institutions play important roles at the local and national level. We try to manage this tension by distinguishing between the public and private spheres of life, relegating religion to the latter, but this solution has been only partially successful as debates about matters such as the teaching intelligent design in public schools, public support for faith-based social services, and same-sex marriage demonstrate. The goal of this course is to explore the intersection of religious belief and public life.  We will explore the following sorts of questions: What does it mean to have a “secular” society? How do our religious beliefs shape how we respond to public issues? How should they? Does religious faith improve or harm our public lives? How can we talk respectfully and constructively about religion?

     

    Section 002 (Lisa Biggs)

    Introduction to Performance Theory and Analysis

    Human beings use performances ranging from the artistic to the cultural to the everyday to affirm their sense of belonging, negotiate identity, transform conflicts, engage in politics, educate, entertain, and much more.  In this course, students will be introduced to the field of Performance Studies, in particular the art of interpreting and analyzing dramatic scripts, non-dramatic texts, and theatrical productions as an entry point for the study of culture, social roles and identity.  Central to our work will be an opportunity to dive deeply into the annual One Book/One Lansing community engagement text. Group discussions and assigned readings will be complemented by field trips to theatre, dance, and sporting events on campus, improvisation workshops, and opportunities to devise short performance pieces in class.

     

    Section 003 (Donna Rich Kaplowitz)

    Social Identity, Intercultural Dialogue and Social Justice

    This course examines how various social identity groups in the United States contribute to systems of privilege and oppression. Though the primary emphasis of this course will focus on race and ethnicity, attention will also be given to gender, religion, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation and other social identity markers. Throughout the semester, we will use engaging readings, TED talks, social media, in-class activities, films, campus resources, and guest speakers to foster student exploration of their own social group memberships and multiple identities.  Students will also consider how their group membership relates to individual, institutional and cultural forms of oppression and privilege socialization. Students will become familiar with various methodologies for developing understanding across different identity groups. Finally, students will examine their own spheres of influence, and discuss how to be an ally to other social identity groups. Come prepared to challenge previously held assumptions and engage in profound personal and intellectual growth.

     

    RCAH202 The Presence of the Past

    Section 001 (Donna Rich Kaplowitz)

    What Difference Can a Revolution Make? 

    The Impact of the Cuban Revolution, Past and Present

    RCAH 202 asks us to understand the presence of the past. In this class we will explore how political revolutions are perceived and what the impact of revolution means over time and across borders.  This class will use the Cuban Revolution as a case study to learn about the historical meaning and impact of revolutions.

    In 1959, 90 miles south of Florida, Fidel Castro and a small band of revolutionaries overthrew Cuba’s US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista. In this section of 202, we will examine how this historic event, now over half a century old, has continued to impact life on the island, and around the world to this day.

    This class will examine the political-historical roots of the Cuban revolution. We will study how the Cuban revolution profoundly impacted life on the island and around the world.  We will answer questions like: How has the Cuban revolution influenced US domestic policy, foreign policy and world politics? Why is the Cuban revolution still able to influence US and world politics? How did revolution in this tiny Caribbean nation send political tidal waves through Latin America, Africa and Asia? What do human rights mean in a post-Soviet communist country? We will look at how the failed Bay of Pigs invasion led directly to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and why that still matters, 50 years later.  We’ll examine poetry, print media, music, film and more and understand how the Cuban revolution’s historic commitment to the arts continues to shape today’s art movement in Cuba and the world.  We’ll also explore Cuba’s commitment to educational equity; the revolution’s attempt to address racial inequality; the evolution of the role of religion in public life on the island; how the revolution has responded to sexism and heterosexism over time; and much more! Be prepared to listen Cuba’s latest pop music, eat moros y cristianos, watch Cuban film, and challenge Cuban and US foreign policy! An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (Dylan Miner)

    The Presence of the Past through Comics and Documentary Films

    In this section, we will cover three distinct ways of ‘representing the past’: writing, comics, and documentary cinema.  Using comics and films as the primary sites of inquiry, this course will investigate how and why the past influences our contemporary cultural, political, and social practices.  Throughout, students will begin to see how the past remains important in our everyday activities and how we are active agents in constructing ‘history’ in the present. 

     

    Section 003 (John Aerni-Flessner)

    Slavery

    Going back to the Roman Empire and working toward the present, this class looks at how various forms of involuntary servitude (conveniently all lumped together under the term “slavery”) have served as underpinnings for production of goods and services. We will look at the Atlantic World, but also the Indian Ocean World, and systems on the African continent to compare involuntary servitude across time and space. We will be looking at how these systems of involuntary labor differed and were similar—and debate whether they were all “slavery.” We will also examine how they contributed in ways large and small to the creation of the globalized world in which we live. The forces that led to the rise and fall of slavery have shaped our world in a wide variety of ways, and this course will help you interrogate the ways in which this is still important, and how debates over the legacy of slavery and reparations have been and continue to be contentious.

     

    Section 004 (Joanna Bosse)

    African Music

    As a phenomenon that is bound so deeply to the identity of people and place--one that nevertheless travels through time and space independently of the people who make it--music provides a unique sonic vantage point from which to study the presence of the past. Taking African music as our focus, this course will explore the ways that contemporary African musical practice testifies to the currents of African history and presents listeners with a set of ethical challenges that have implications for our shared future. For over the last centuries, African music has been received with much curiosity, confusion, romanticization, and misinformation among western audiences, perhaps more so than any other type of music. This history informs the way we learn about African music today, in ways that the learners themselves may not even comprehend.

    This course will be highly interactive. Throughout the semester, we will listen to, write about, talk about, read about, and perform several musical genres from sub-Saharan Africa. We will also learn about important moments in African (and world) history, gain greater fluency in expressive forms, literacy in musical concepts, while developing a greater understanding of who we are as learners, creators, and citizens of the world.  One need not have formal training in music to succeed in this course. Those who do have musical training will find their skills challenged in new and exciting ways. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 005 (Lisa Biggs)

    Crimes, Rights and Punishments

    In this course, we investigate the development of contemporary crime theory and legal practices by asking critical questions how crime is constructed, law enacted, and punishment administered. This is not a legal studies or political science class. Instead, we approach the concepts of criminalization, punishment, justice and law enforcement using ethnographic, historical, and literary sources (plays, novels, short stories, poems etc). These materials, often written from a grassroots perspective, illuminate how U.S. public policies and institutions actually function. What behaviors are criminal(ized)?  How was justice and punishment understood and enacted? How have those practices persisted or changed over time? Where is innovation occurring today, and how might MSU students get involved?

     

    RCAH 281 Career Strategies

    Section 001 (Niki Rudolph)

    Liberal Arts on the Job

    This course will help you prepare for a career that engages the arts and humanities on a daily basis. You’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses and how your passions can translate into careers. You’ll build your personal brand, job shadow, hear from arts and humanities graduates and professionals, and gain a better understanding about writing a resume, interviewing and articulating the RCAH degree to potential graduate schools, employers and partners. After completing this course, you will more fully understand the value and marketability of a Liberal Arts degree.

     

    RCAH291 Arts Workshops

    Section 001 (Guillermo Delgado)

    Possibilities with Paint

    In this creative workshop, you will explore the possibilities of paint through a variety of visual mediums.  You will experiment and practice painting in a variety of venues and examine the way painting interplays with context.  Painting experiences will help us explore topics and genres from the traditional – portraits and landscapes – to the theoretical, such as cultural studies and social justice issues. The objective for this class is to become familiar with painting techniques and art history while also developing an individualized painting practice that will enable you to translate ideas into visual narratives.  Watercolor and acrylic paints will be the primary mediums, though your artistic repertoire and exposure to different genres is a key objective. At the end of the semester, you will organize and exhibit your paintings in a group show on campus. No painting experience necessary and all skill levels are welcome. Come join the fun!

     

    Section 002 (David Sheridan)

    Advanced Media Production and Design

    This workshop will explore the social and aesthetic potentials of print-, video-, and web-based media. Content is tailored to students who already have a background in one or more of these areas. Students will generate creative and socially meaningful projects in all three media formats and will explore fundamental principles of design in the process. We will also explore strategies for critiquing the work of others. This class will provide excellent preparation for anyone who wishes to work in the RCAH Language and Media Center. Students who wish to enroll in this section should contact David Sheridan (sherid16@msu.edu).

     

    Section 003 (Dylan Miner)

    Art, Ecology and Sustainability in the Great Lakes

    This art studio-workshop course is an interdisciplinary and artistic exploration of ecology and sustainability in the transborder Great Lakes region (US and Canada, including numerous sovereign Indigenous nations on both sides).  While Prof. Miner’s art uses printmaking and community collaboration at the core, this workshop will allow students to explore their own artistic interests in relationship to the ‘natural world’, while studying the ways that contemporary artists critically reflect upon ecology, sustainability, and the environment.  In addition to making art about, with, and in our local environments, final project will be a collaboration with Prof. Torrez’ RCAH 292B to produce a portfolio of screenprints. The portfolio will be based on how Lansing Latino youth see their ‘sense of place’ in the Great Lakes.

     

    Section 004 (Diane Newman)

    Dance as Human Experience

    Why do humans have an innate impulse to move, to dance? Through observation and exploration, students begin with a personal journey, from noticing ordinary movement to recognizing the extraordinary choices and possibilities that dance offers. Relationships to the broader context of history, culture, communication, social issues, and aesthetics are realized over the arc of experience. Students in this class can expect to move, to discover, to create, to write. They will learn to recognize dance/movement as an everyday tool by which humans experience and interpret life. No previous dance experience necessary.

     

    RCAH292A Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Vincent Delgado)

    Community Storytelling

    This proseminar on engagement will use hands-on learning to motivate, excite, inspire and sensitize students to deeper reflection and civic engagement activities in the college. Through discussions on the nature of civic engagement, students will engage in discovery of their own community as well as new communities across campus and mid-Michigan.  Specifically, we’ll be working with with particular communities, which may include, youth groups, refugees and artists in mid-Michigan to explore the critical engagement concepts of place, passion and imagination. These stories will be archived and disseminated as decided during our engagement with these communities. This activity will provide focus for our work. But we’ll add in texts, multimedia resources and additional hands-on activities to prepare us for higher-level thinking and involvement in engagement course work and community-based activism. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (Terese Monberg)

    Serving Versus Sustaining Communities

    This proseminar prepares students for civic engagement in the RCAH and beyond by exploring the differences between serving a community and sustaining one over time. As Karen McKnight Casey argues, the United States has a “distinct culture” of nonprofit and community-based organizations that depend on volunteerism. And while volunteerism has its place in community-based work, it often privileges a short-term commitment and a short-term understanding of communities. But communities—and the economic, social, racial, local, and global contexts in which they exist and operate—change over time, meaning that community-based organizations are continually challenged to reassess what work is possible and necessary at different points in time.

    This proseminar will introduce students to the RCAH approach to civic engagement by exploring the challenges of building and sustaining community-based institutions, movements, and partnerships and the role that students might play in these processes.

    We will listen to oral histories by community activists, explore debates on volunteerism and engagement, and work with local community organizers and partners to gain an understanding of the larger social context in which community partnerships are built and sustained. The aim of the course is to help students appreciate what drives community-based movements, how the context surrounding these movements shifts over time, and how communities adapt and assess what still needs to be done.

     

    RCAH292B Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Guillermo Delgado)

    Art @ Work

    For this civic engagement (and civic creativity) course, you will create art and participate in experiential dialogues with clients at Peckham, Inc., a nonprofit vocational rehabilitation organization that provides job training opportunities for persons with significant disabilities and other barriers to employment. There will be opportunities to explore and engage in the creative processes with the Peckham community and other RCAH students, faculty and visiting artists in the co-creation of a 40’X200’ art installation on a concrete wall. You will help organize, participate in, and lead art-making and writing workshops for clients at Peckham, and explore critical topics such as cultural identity processes through interactive personal histories. Ample time will be reserved for creating art and reflecting in the RCAH art studio.  You will work to refine community art-making skills and for creating an artistic personal map based on your civic engagement journey. No art skills necessary and all art skill levels are welcome. Come join the fun!

     

    Section 002 (Patricia Rogers)

    "It's Great to Be a Girl!" 

    This course contains both a civic engagement component that takes place in the community and an academic component in the classroom.  The class will partner with Mt. Hope School in Lansing to run an after-school program based on the initiative "It's Great to Be a Girl" (IGBG).  This civic engagement activity involves working with pre-adolescent (fifth-grade) girls to help build and foster self-esteem at a critical moment in their development.  Topics and activities will focus on issues such as body image, media, friendships, bullying, and career goals, among others.

    In the classroom, undergraduates will read and discuss scholarly articles centering on gender.  Many of the materials will delve into the same issues raised by our themes and topics at Cumberland; issues that confront all females (girls and women) in American society.  Through work with pre-adolescent girls as well as the academic readings and discussions, this class will help undergraduates understand their own experience in relation to society as demonstrated through gender roles and stereotypes.

     

    Section 003 (Candace Keller-Claytor)

    Photovoice

    Students in this course will work with community members on a Photovoice project. Photovoice is an innovative photo essay method that incorporates the process of documentary photography with the practices of empowerment education and civic democracy. It puts cameras in the hands of individuals often excluded from decision-making processes in order to capture their voices and visions about their lives, community concerns, and insights. By sharing their stories about these images, reflecting with others about the broader meanings of the photos they have taken, and displaying these photos and stories for the broader public and policy makers to view, Photovoice photographers are provided with a unique opportunity to document and communicate important aspects of their lives. Over the semester, students in this course will learn compositional and technical aspects of photography as means of visual expression and narrative, while studying the methods, history, and practices of Photovoice as a mode of civic engagement, as they plan and implement a Photovoice project working with members of the Lansing Refugee Development Center.

     

    Section 004 (Estrella Torrez)

    Nuestros Cuentos

    Currently, 1 in 5 public school system students is Latino. Meanwhile, recent national studies found that nearly half of all Latino students do not earn a high school diploma.  Lansing School District (LSD) reflects these trends. LSD Latino student demographics show that this population has strong English language proficiency, has lived in the area for multiple generations, and continually underperform in the classroom compared to other minority students. 

    In this course, we will partner with the Lansing School District to create and implement programming meant to bolster the Latino student voice. Highlighting the Latino experience in Michigan, RCAH and LSD students will collaboratively work to tell the story of Lansing Latinos, both past and present. Engaging with elementary students, we will assist in their learning about the importance of their own story and their impact in the community. This course will be linked with Prof. Miner’s RCAH 291 Creative Workshop and engage with issues of community and ‘ecology’. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    RCAH330 Nature and Culture

    Section 001 (Scot Yoder)

    The Ethics of Being and Becoming Human

    In this course we will draw upon material from philosophy, literature, art, and history to explore multiple versions of the questions, “What does it mean to be human?”  Is there such a thing as a fixed human nature or is it something malleable that is in flux? How is technology affecting how we think about human nature? Are there moral limits to how we can create and enhance humans, and if so, what are they? The goal of the course is to explore such questions.

    Note:  Portions of this course will be taught in conjunction with Aronoff’s RCAH 340: Technology and Creativity.

     

    RCAH340 Technology and Creativity

    Section 001 (Eric Aronoff)

    Technology and Creativity: Fictions of Science and Technology

    This course will examine the interplay between scientific philosophies, technology and literature.  We will explore this interplay in terms of both content and form: in other words, we will study the ways in which the “subject matter” of science and technology – the theories, discoveries, inventions of science – are explored within novels and short stories to probe their implications for our conceptions of society, the self, and art; we will also think about how scientific “ways of knowing” – rationality, empiricism, linear narrative – have been deployed and resisted to shape the genres of the realist novel, detective fiction, gothic tales and science fiction.  Finally, we will also think about how the technology of the book itself shapes the kinds of narratives that can be produced, and how new technologies – the internet, hypertext, etc. – might produce new kinds of narratives. Texts might include: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake; Ray Bradbury,  The Martian Chronicles; William Gibson,  Neuromancer; Mary Shelley,  Frankenstein; Neal Stephenson,  The Diamond Age; H.G. Wells,  The War of the Worlds.

    This course will be closely coordinated with Prof. Scot Yoder’s RCAH 330: Nature and Culture course on Human Enhancement.  While most class sessions will meet separately (and students register for only one of the two courses), the two classes will also meet frequently to discuss issues and texts of common concern.

     

    RCAH380 Third Year Tutorial

    Section 001 (Carolyn Loeb)

    Women and Art

    Do today’s visual arts, from painting to performance art, baffle you, excite you, or leave you cold? Chances are they do all three, depending. Many of the approaches that artists use today have their roots in challenging artworks made by women artists in the 1970s. What did these artists do that led their work to have such a far-reaching impact? Do works created today continue to embody their spirit and insights?

    In this course, we will look at innovations and experimentation in such watershed works as the collaborative, site-specific, temporary installations in Womanhouse (Los Angeles, 1972), the collaborative, multi-media construction of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party (1974-79), and the development of Miriam Schapiro’s concept of femmage. Through these pieces, women artists decisively shifted how art was made and thought about.

    In the guided project that is the focus of a Third-Year Tutorial, you will then explore how contemporary artists relate to the core of new ideas opened up by these earlier artists: recovery of women artists of the past; development of alternative media; collaboration; interrogation of issues of the body, identity, power, and the media; shaping public space; community engagement; and re-evaluation of dominant aesthetic ideas. How have these emphases changed? How do today’s more globalized women artists relate to them and lead them in new directions?

    The guided project can be a research paper, a visual presentation, a study of a local arts venue, or another endeavor developed by students in consultation with me. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (Joanna Bosse)

    Social Power and Popular Music

    This course will engage students in a critical exploration of the ways that social values, and in particular, social power, are encoded in popular music, with our work centered on the role of class, gender, and race.  The centerpiece of the course will be the independent project that may take any form, including (but not limited to) a scholarly paper; a performance or other type of artistic work; a blog or other form of music criticism/journalism; video or other multi-media form; etc.

     

    RCAH390 Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Estrella Torrez)

    Education in a Multilingual Community

    In this course, we will investigate issues of language attrition and revitalization. We will focus on how language is affected by educational policy, particularly through the emergence (and transformation) of bilingual education. Through seminar-style learning we will discuss the following questions: Are languages equal? Why should younger generations learn a heritage language in a globalized economy? Should resource-strapped educational systems expend funds to provide multilingual education? Should we separate students into homogenous linguistic groups? In addition to these questions, students will investigate how schools are working with heritage language communities to become active agents in maintaining language and protecting their community’s way of life. An Integrated Language Optionmay be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (India Plough)

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research is a general survey course of sociolinguistics and sociolinguistic research methodologies. Combining lecture and seminar formats, the course introduces students to language variation, pragmatics, and language socialization. The relationships between language and attitudes, identities, and social networks are also explored. Readings of studies on world languages focus on a critical examination of the relationship between sociolinguistic phenomena and research methodology as well as the extent to which verbal behavior varies across languages and cultures. In-class activities are used to explicate sociolinguistic concepts. Throughout the course, research validity is emphasized in preparation for the class project in which students work in groups to conduct an empirical sociolinguistic research study. This requires students to 1) formulate a meaningful research question; 2) identify sources of data to answer the question; 3) determine a suitable method of data collection; 4) collect, analyze, and interpret the data; and 5) report results. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 003 (Austin Jackson)

    Black Talk: African American Language, Literacy, and Culture

    The African American community constitutes a distinct speech community, with its own organizational and sociolinguistic norms of interaction (Smitherman 1996).  African American Language (AAL, also called Ebonics or Black English) is an Africanized form of English forged in the crisis of U.S. slavery, racial segregation, and the Black struggle for freedom and equality.  In this course, we’ll explore the social, educational, and political implications of AAL in the 21st century.  Using the work of major scholars in sociolinguistics, literacy studies, and 1) examine AAL semantics, syntax, phonology, and morphology, 2) identify underlying historical and socio-economic forces responsible for shaping AAL, and 3) explore the impact of AAL within Black speech communities and U.S. and global popular culture.  

    We will examine language attitudes towards AAL, especially representations and misrepresentations of AAL within media and the Internet, and consider how such portrayals influence efforts to incorporate AAL within language and literacy instruction for Black children.  Additionally, we will give considerable attention to three major cases of U.S. language policy: Students’ Right to Their Own Language Resolution (1974), the King Ann Arbor “Black English” federal court case (1979), and the Oakland School District “Ebonics Decision" (1996-1997).  

    Assignments will include conducting linguistic and rhetorical analysis of AAL in literature, film, and popular culture (especially Rap music and Hip Hop culture).  Beyond the classroom, we will conduct participant-observations of AAL within predominately Black churches, campus student organizations, and other local African American speech communities.

     

    RCAH395 Special Topics-Arts & Humanities

    Section 001 (Vincent Delgado)

    Cultures of Creativity in Action

    This special topics course will deepen interdisciplinary scholarship developed between freshman RCAH and College of Engineering students during a summer 2014 study away in Detroit. Through readings, discussions, reflection, design labs and active and applied collaboration, students will work in teams to develop their own “cultures of creativity” in designing, testing and implementing technological solutions meant to address regional challenges. With assistance from the Ford Community Fund, the result will be robust, useful and something that no one has ever seen before. While we will review current organizational scholarship on the idea of interdisciplinary creativity and innovation through the process, we will also use an anthropological lens to look at how teams, including ours, work.

     

    Section 002 (Laura DeLind)

    Food Sovereignties: What do they mean & how will we know them when we eat them?

    Food connects human beings to their bodies, histories, aesthetics, ideologies, natural and built environments, and economic, sociocultural, and political systems. As a connector, it provides a lens through which we can explore our relationships to one another to non-human life forms and to the earth itself.  What we know (and don’t know) about our food and our food system has life-sustaining and life-threatening implications.

    “Food sovereignty” is a term that has grown increasingly popular within today’s food movement.  Its fundamental principles – food as a basic right, agrarian reform, fair trade, the elimination of corporate domination, social justice, democratic control, and harmony with nature – have been adopted in whole or in part by many farmers, laborers, consumers and corporate traders. But what does all this actually look like and taste like?

    This course critically explores the concept of “sovereignty” as it applies to the contemporary food system. We begin by discussing its historic roots, political rhetoric, and legal protections as a foundation for recognizing issues of power and domination. “Who has sovereignty, individuals or collectives?”  “Who gets to say who is sovereign?” “What are different forms of sovereignty and do they conflict?”

    Next we explore different “cases” that bring food sovereignties into greater personal and contemporary focus. We consider a) labor rights (e.g., Coalition of Immokalee Workers), b) indigenous peoples’ rights (place-based knowledges), c) consumer rights (e.g., GMOs), d) domestic and international fair trade (e.g., terroir), and e) human rights (e.g., Gates Foundation).

    Students are responsible for leading class discussions, for several short essays and a final research paper. 

    NOTE: This course can be used as a Nature and Culture Pathway course. It also is being offered as (and concurrent with) PHL 353, Core Themes in P/J Studies; Instructor: Kyle Powys Whyte kwhyte@msu.edu. It serves as a core course for the P&J Studies specialization.

     

    RCAH492 Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Anita Skeen)

    Geographies, Journey and Maps: Where we are Going, Where we have Been

    “To ask for a map is to say, ‘Tell me a story,’” writes Peter Turchi.  In this seminar we will consider various geographies that we inhabit/have inhabited and various journeys that we and other writers have undertaken.  We will examine and create maps, both literal and metaphorical, that tell important stories about who we are as individuals and as a culture. We will look at the writer as cartographer and how through exploration (premeditated searching or undisciplined rambling) and presentation (creating a document meant to communicate with and have an effect on others) we lead both writer and reader on a journey into worlds both real and imagined.

     

     

    Spring 2015 Courses

    RCAH112 Writing Research Technologies

    Section 001 (Eric Aronoff)

    Our America

    The focus of this section of RCAH 112 is the idea of “American culture” as it is renegotiated and reimagined in the United States in the 1920s and 30s. More accurately, we might say we are investigating shifts in “American” “culture,” since, we will discover, both of these terms – what it means to be an “American” and what it means to “have culture” – undergo crucial and complex shifts in this period.  As many scholars have observed, Americans in the post-WWI era were intensively searching to define a specifically American cultural identity. But even as American writers and critics in the ‘20s attempted to redefine the content of a particularly “American” culture, the form of culture as a concept – what counted as “culture” –  was itself undergoing radical transformations, particularly from within American anthropology, a discipline that one might argue was being invented in the period around new ideas of "culture" and pluralism.

    This section, then, will examine debates over “American” culture, race, national identity and art in the modernist period.  Looking at various primary documents, with particular attention to the arts (modernist poetry, literature, jazz and other media), we will ask:  how do these texts imagine the relationship between “race,” “nation,” and “culture”? How do these constructions engage debates over immigration, assimilation and pluralism? What is the relationship between “culture,” art, and new modes of technology?  How did new forms of artistic expression (broadly speaking, “modernist” art) respond to, challenge, or incorporate these new social conditions? We will then think about how these modernist debates reverberate in contemporary, 21st Century contexts, in questions of transnational migration, national identity, cultural “ownership” and authenticity, etc. The breadth of these questions will allow for a wide variety of approaches and specific interest:  like all sections of 112, we will be able to pursue the burning questions we raise by developing our skills as researchers and writers.

     

    Section 002 (Scot Yoder)

    Researching and Writing about Ethical Issues

    While ethical questions are often considered to be very personal, they are also at the heart of many public controversies ranging from reproductive rights to gun control.  In this course we will use both public and scholarly reflection on ethical issues to deepen our understanding of the practice of research and writing in the humanities. We will use this material in order to increase our understanding of 1) what it means to do research in the humanities, 2) how to use writing as a means of inquiry, 3) how to evaluate and construct arguments, and 4) how to conduct and present a research project in the humanities.  Each student will produce a thesis-driven research paper on a relevant topic of their choice, a project utilizing an alternative format for presenting the results of their research, and a writing portfolio documenting both these final products and the processes used to produce them. 

     

    Section 004 (Tama Hamilton-Wray)

    Black Female Cinema          

    This course looks at the social, political, economic, and artistic implications of black female-centered cinema. We will use various film theories to investigate this cinema and to gain an understanding of the role of black female-centered cinema in society. Using the film literacy developed in the class, students will create an in-depth study of an alternative cinema.

     

    Section 005 (Mark Balawender)

    Shifting Conceptions of Social Violence

    Violence is commonly understood as a direct, intentional and physical phenomenon. We’ve been at war for the past 12 years, frequently hear about mass shootings, and are mesmerized by terrorist acts in the US. Millions were absorbed by coverage of the Boston marathon bombing. However, in the week following, much less attention was paid to the collapse of a building that housed clothing factories in Bangladesh which killed over 800 workers. Understood at once by increasingly angry Bangladeshis as the result of competitive economic practices, one might ask whether that accident was also a kind of violence and perhaps more morally troubling than acts of terrorism because of the sheer number of people its causes implicate. Poor working conditions, low safety standards and lack of worker autonomy are systematically caused by the way we produce the stuff we need. Factories in that collapsed building produced clothes for brands like The Children’s Place, Benneton and JC Penny. So, rather than being a world apart from us, it’s likely that one of us (or someone we know) has worn clothes produced there.

    This class will develop your research writing and presentation skills by exploring some of the forms violence takes in a modern globalized society.  We will look at some of the ways scholars have tried to broaden the concept of violence to include structural and symbolic understandings and use these expanded conceptions as the basis of our own research projects. You will investigate a case study of your own choosing and learn how to develop and present your investigation in the form of an academic research paper and a poster. Emphasis will be placed on the practice of “writing in order to think.” This will include weekly writing assignments that investigate the readings of the course, and a series of “deliverables” that, together, will take you through the steps of completing an academic research project.

     

    Section 006 (Austin Jackson)

    Black Popular Culture and Social Movements

    This section explores the function of culture in maintaining or resisting unjust power relations in society. As positionality is always an important part of critical inquiry, our work this semester will begin with self-reflection and exploration. We will consider how subjective knowledge or personal experiences impact the ways that individuals and groups “read” or interpret race, class, and difference in society. We will then turn to critical social theory (especially Marxism, Black Feminism, and Critical Race Theory) for close readings of various socio-cultural “texts” -- from civil rights/Black power aesthetics to Rap music and Hip Hop culture -- for insight into the ways that “the voices on the margins” resist forces of domination. From this perspective, we will construct critical research projects that consider popular culture and New Media technologies as important means of communal problem solving within contemporary movements for racial, social, and economic justice.

     

    RCAH192 Proseminar

    Section 001 (Terese Monberg)

    Globalization and Local Life: Workers, Families, and Communities of Resistance

    Globalization is often thought of as an economic phenomenon, but what are the cultural dimensions of globalization? How have the movements and flows of globalization reshaped notions of work and family, forms of public life, culture, and the arts? Arjun Appadurai argues that globalization “produces problems that manifest themselves in intensely local forms but have contexts that are anything but local.” This course examines how globalization processes impact local life. Juxtaposing globalization at the turn of the 20th century with present forms of globalization, we will look for similar and divergent patterns of (uneven) economic development, resulting migrations, and how people have redefined notions of work, family, community, transnational identity, and social justice. We will take an interdisciplinary and sometimes collaborative approach, drawing from understandings of globalization from history, sociology, literature, and film. The course will encourage students to investigate how globalization processes impact childhood and society, art and public life, conceptions of nature and culture, and the possibilities and responsibilities of technological and creative production.

     

    Section 002 (Steve Baibak)

    Reclamation Studio, It’s a Safe Place to Talk Trash

    Reclamation Studio, it’s a safe place to talk trash, is a course based on gleaning, reuse, and transformation of found, second hand, or inherited objects. The course is designed to help students alter their perception of objects, so they can see them as base materials: plastic, metal, wood, or fiber. We will dissect forms to discover their potential frame works, cavities, openings, and abstract forms. We will look at connective materials, bolts, wires, rivets, interlocking tabs, springs, hinges, and lashings. There will be experiments on surfacing objects, (the great transformer), sanding, abrading, eroding, denting, and shredding. 

    In the course we will create some utilitarian objects, tools, instruments, or things aid to help them in their daily passage, also we will construct abstract ornaments of pure aesthetic. The abstract becomes a way of exploring material relationships and potentialities without having to conceive a meaning. We will talk about the differences between the utilitarian and abstract, and the importance of both.

    The students will be exposed to writings, and consume films about our great abundance. The class will also visit and will sometimes be held at MSU Surplus; the hub of MSU’s recycling, and a great resource for materials.

    Reclamation Studio’s goal is to help us to become more resourceful and to highlight our own responsibility as consumers.

     

    Section 003 (Eric Aronoff)

    Comics and Culture

    Ten years ago, comic books could be found only in spin racks in the local convenience store, in specialty comic shops, and maybe in the “humor” section of the bookstore.  Today a whole section of Barnes & Noble is given over to “graphic novels,” and each month the section gets larger. This course will examine the comic book and the graphic novel both in terms of form, history and cultural significance within the U.S., and across cultures.  We will begin examining how comics “work” – how comics combine visual art and the written word to create an art form with its own “grammar,” and its own kind of narrative forms. We then will examine the history of the comic book in U.S. culture, focusing on “superhero” comics from the Golden Age to the present, to ask how comics reflect and shape the values, anxieties, and myths of these periods.  We will also examine the range of comic forms and genres that have emerged in the last several decades beyond the superhero comic: personal memoir and historical trauma (Maus, Persepolis), autobiographical comics (American Born Chinese, work of Ryan Claytor and others), comic journalism (Joe Sacco and others), etc. We will also examine comics in cultures other than the U.S., such as Mexican photonovellas, Japanese Manga, and others.

     

    RCAH203 Transcultural Relations

    Section 001 (Dylan Miner)

    The Transcultural Relations of Food

    As you’ve probably heard before, ‘you are what you eat’.  In this course, we will use this adage as the basis to analyze and decode the role that food plays throughout global histories.  Accordingly, we will study food as a cultural expression that links the world into a common and interconnected world-system. The course will include historical, cultural, and sociological inquiries into food and food’s larger meaning.  We will actively engage in cooking and eating, as well as thinking and writing about food. Food and the ways humans eat will be the impetus to understand ‘transculturation’ and global cultural change.

     

    Section 002 (Patricia Rogers)

    Transcultural Relations through the Narrative

    Roland Barthes wrote in 1966, "narrative is present in every age, in every place, in every society; it begins with the very history of mankind ... Narrative is international, transhistorical, transcultural:  it is simply there, like life itself."

    RCAH 203 asks us to explore a (very) broad concept, namely "transcultural relations," or relations (and relationships) that intersect or intermingle with multiple cultures.  The process of defining and understanding transcultural relations, in turn, raises other very broad concepts and/or questions. For example, how and why do various and multiple cultures interact with one another?  And what form does this contact take? Or, we could ask what separates one culture from another? This raises the question of differences between cultures (that can make transcultural relations necessary) and similarities (that can make transcultural relations possible).  In order to attempt to understand this broad concept of transcultural relations, our section of RCAH 203 will focus on the phenomenon of the narrative.

     

    Section 003 (Candace Keller-Claytor)

    Art and Cultural Exchange among Africa, Europe, and the Americas

    For centuries, Africa has engaged in cultural exchange with Europe and the Americas via trade, diplomacy, war, and human migration, affecting the cultural productions, practices, and belief systems of each continent. Expedited by recent technological advances in telecommunications and transportation, such interactions raise critical questions:

    • What are the social and environmental repercussions of such exchanges?
    • How have those impacted and been represented in visual arts?
    • What is the role of individuals, namely artists and their patrons, in these processes?
    • What significance do these past and present relations hold for our collective futures?

    To help us think about these issues and become more aware of our interdependent relationship with Africa today, we will consider key moments in transcultural encounters from pre-colonial times to the present, including early forms of tourist art production, the spread of Islam and Christianity, and the proliferation of photography on the continent; connections between the spiritual beliefs and artworks in Africa and those, such as Vodun and Rastafarianism, in the Americas and Caribbean. Furthermore, we will explore the powerful influence that African art has had on European modernism and international contemporary art.

     

    Section 004 (John Aerni-Flessner)

    Sports, Leisure, Nationalism, and Citizenship in 20th Century Africa

    This course examines histories of sport and leisure to interrogate concepts of nationalism and citizenship. How were leaders attempting to harness sport and leisure to create national communities, and how did people respond to these efforts? How did African sport and leisure get so intertwined with international politics that they became venues for protesting apartheid South Africa, fighting racial discrimination, and having African-derived or produced music and films becoming cultural lynchpins in societies across the globe? These questions will drive our examination of particular cases from African History, as we look at how debates over citizenship and nationalism have played out in different national and cultural settings. We will compare these cases across time and space to see how people have defined inclusion and exclusion within ethnic groups, national boundaries, and national citizenship. 20th place for this type of examination as colonial rule gave way to independent nation-states, and debates over these issues reached deeply into societies—some of which had to fight colonial powers simply to gain the right to have this conversation. Other, more peaceful transitions, still afforded people a chance to debate these issues thoroughly with the coming creation of new countries. Still later, mega sporting events, like the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and the issue of athletes switching citizenship to better cash in on Olympic or international soccer opportunities gives us great latitude to see arguments about citizenship from a diversity of perspectives.

     

    RCAH291 Arts Workshops

    Section 001 (John Meyers)

    Brazilian Percussion

    In Brazil, percussion music serves a variety of important functions, including famous parades like Rio’s Carnaval, street dances, and political marches. In this workshop, students will learn to perform several genres of Brazilian percussion music (such as samba and samba-reggae) while also learning about how these genres function in social settings in Brazil and around the world. No previous musical or percussion experience is necessary because, as in Brazil, we will be playing music that is meant to be played, sung, and danced to by the entire community.

     

    Section 002 (Guillermo Delgado)

    Call and Response: Painting Inspired by Poetry

    Dive into the world of parallel processes through this seminar on painting and poetry. Throughout art history, great works of literature have inspired artists, and the parallel processes of creativity have important connections for both art forms.  In this course, you will explore poems by poets that include Sherman Alexie, Martín Espada, Basho, Octavio Páz, Sonia Sanchez, Sandra Cisneros, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Kay Ryan, among others. Your goal as an artist will be to develop and create a painting language that translates the essence of poems into a series of paintings.  Watercolor and acrylic paints will be the primary visual mediums. At the end of the course, you’ll work collaboratively with your classmates to create an art installation comprised of paintings and excerpts of text from the poems you created in class. No painting or poetry experience necessary and all skill levels are welcome. Come join the fun!

     

    Section 003 (Jeremy Herliczek)

    Social Documentary Photography

    In this class, students will study the history of photography as a tool for social justice, learning the technical and creative skills necessary to create their own social documentary projects. We will research contemporary photographers and study their techniques in conceiving, funding, photographing, editing, publishing and marketing photography projects for social change. No previous experience will be assumed, but previous experience will be welcomed. It would be highly desirable to have a DSL camera, but if that is not possible we can make arrangements for members to get access to one.

     

    Section 004 (Anita Skeen)

    Book Arts

    Ever want to print your own poem or story the way it was done 100 years ago? To make your own book? To collaborate on a book? If so, join a writer, a printer, a bookbinder, and a book historian in a semester long workshop where you learn about both the books you read and the books you make. You'll get to spend some time in the Special Collections at the MSU Library looking at, and touching, books that are hundreds of years old at well as learning about the library's collection of contemporary artists' books. Hand set type in the art studio, work with visiting artists who might specialize in anything from papermaking to Medieval book bindings, and, in the end, make your own books.

     

    Section 005 (Lisa Biggs)

    Theatre for Social Change

    In this course on creating original, interdisciplinary, theatrical performance, students will be exposed to a variety of grassroots U.S. and international strategies for devising new work, with a particular focus upon the practice of Theatre for Social Change.

     

    Section 006 (Doug DeLind)

    Adventuring with Clay

    In this creative workshop we will work with clay and investigate the ways clay has been used by different peoples in different times.  From the 26,000 year old Venus of Dolni to Will Vinton's California Raisins Claymation we will mirror the historic and contemporary use of clay in the things we make. We will also apply for grants/competitions for art in public places and create life-sized alter ego figures made from clay and found objects.  I have worked in clay for 40 years and while I have a lot to pass on, I still have much to learn and I am looking forward to seeing your new approaches to clay.

     

    RCAH292A Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Vincent Delgado)

    Community Storytelling

    This proseminar on engagement will use hands-on learning to motivate, excite, inspire and sensitize students to deeper reflection and civic engagement activities in the college. Through discussions on the nature of civic engagement, students will engage in discovery of their own community as well as new communities across campus and mid-Michigan.  Specifically, we’ll be working with particular communities, which may include youth groups, refugees and artists in mid-Michigan to explore the critical engagement concepts of place, passion and imagination. These stories will be archived and disseminated as decided during our engagement with these communities. This activity will provide focus for our work. We’ll add in texts, multimedia resources and additional hands-on activities to prepare us for higher-level thinking and involvement in engagement course work and community-based activism. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (Stephen Esquith)

    Big Ideas for All Ages

    This introduction to civic engagement in the RCAH centers on the importance of big ideas for all ages.  These ideas include bravery, fairness, community, and beauty, among others. The course has three components.  We will read the work of two important historical figures that have shaped our understanding of civic engagement as an integral part of education: Jane Addams and Myles Horton.   We will review the model of civic engagement that the RCAH has adopted in light of the work of these writers and activists. The RCAH model of engagement stresses the importance of critical self-reflection, practical engagement with communities other than our own, an active commitment to social justice, and passionate enjoyment and friendship-building through engagement.   Finally, we will experience civic engagement by participating in two of the programs at the Edgewood Village Community Center in East Lansing. RCAH students will have the choice of working with younger students in an after-school reading program or with adults in a late afternoon arts and literature program. The discussions in our classroom and at Edgewood will be organized as learning circles in which each participant’s voice and experience is valued. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    RCAH292B Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Diane Newman)

    Arts Now!

    This course is designed to provide students with a current perspective and understanding of the nature of non-profit arts organizations and cultural service-providers. Individual students will be paired with a local arts organization, exposed to the organization’s day-to-day operations, and gain useful job skills and connections to professionals in the field by being a part of the arts organization/service workforce. Deeper investigations include the intricacies of organizational structure including mission statement, governance, budget and funding sources. The issues of political climate, trends in charitable giving, and arts advocacy will further student understanding of the complex influences affecting the survival of these important community non-profits and the benefits they provide. Through involvement with his/her Arts Community Partner, the student will gain insights into the intense commitment integral to managing a community arts organization. Students will closely examine the importance of the arts in multiple facets of human life – in education, community, and beyond. And, students will gain a personal perspective on the possible direction and future of the arts in the U.S. during the coming decade, as well as his/her own potential to make a difference in that outcome.

     

    Section 002 (Tama Hamilton-Wray)

    Narrative Portraits

    In Spring 2013, the Art@Work project was unveiled at Peckham Industries of Lansing. This project represents a 3-year collaboration between RCAH and Peckham where RCAH students have engaged with Peckham team members, a diverse population of refugees and people with mental or physical disabilities, to produce the art portraits of the 40 x 200 feet public art installation. This civic engagement course “Narrative Portraits” seeks to build on the Art@Work project through an exploration of how stories empower us to improve our lives at home, school, work and in our communities. Students will collaboratively create narrative portraits in written and spoken word with Peckham team members. Each Tuesday’s class will be dedicated to developing engagement and collaborative writing skills, in addition to planning for and reflecting on the engagement process. While Thursday’s class will be dedicated to RCAH students building narrative portraits beside their Peckham partners.

     

    RCAH310 Childhood and Society

    Section 001 (Estrella Torrez)

    Engaging with Children and Young People

    The RCAH curriculum underscores the importance of reciprocal education, which encourages students to engage in the co-production of knowledge with community partners.  In doing so, many students are interested in working with children and youth. This course prepares students to work with children from diverse communities in the co-production of knowledge. Prior to working with communities, however, RCAH students must consider the complex societal issues directly impacting the lives of their young collaborators. Accordingly, this course will focus on ways to engage children, the impacts of applying terms such as ‘at-risk’ to communities, and how to maintain a symbiotic and collaborative relationship. Finally, we will discuss possible assessment models to evaluate community impact.

     

    RCAH320 Art and Public Life

    Section 001 (Carolyn Loeb)

    The Right to the City: Who Shapes Urban Space?

    How are the diverse spaces in cities – for housing, for commerce, for civic functions, for recreation, etc. – shaped by class, race/ethnic, and gender relations? How do the forms that urban space takes in turn construct these relations and confirm or break down concepts of difference? This course draws on writings by architectural historians, landscape historians, art historians, designers, anthropologists, geographers, urban historians, and scholars of ethnic studies, cultural studies, and African-American studies to look at these questions. The urban touchstones for the course are Lansing and Detroit, but readings and discussions will range widely over cities throughout the US and across the globe.

    Topics will include:

    • Theories of spatial dynamics in relation to difference
    • Mapping urban relationships
    • Constructions of difference: suburbs, ghettos, barrios, gated communities
    • The roles of public policy and private developers
    • Public space
    • Streets, yards, gardens, parks
    • Environmental racism and environmental justice
    • The role of artists: alternatives spaces, gentrification, street art
    • The impact of globalization

     

    The semester’s work will culminate in projects that take one city or town as a case study through which to examine patterns of spatial relations historically and materially through the lenses developed in the course. Research results will be presented in visual/graphic form, supported by texts. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (Guillermo Delgado)

    Connect your Creativity with Activism

    In this course, we’ll explore the role and define the responsibilities of the engaged artist. We’ll learn from the creation of our own projects and the pedagogies of established community arts projects and organizations in the Greater Lansing area. Let the words of Lilla Watson, Australian Aboriginal Elder and art activist guide you through this course and work: “If you've come here to help me, you're wasting your time. But if you've come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

     

    RCAH380 Third Year Tutorial

    Section 001 (John Aerni-Flessner)

    Decolonization

    What was colonialism? What does it mean to ‘decolonize?’ Was this an event or a process? Is it complete today, or is it an ongoing goal? Must we engage with the colonial frame, or should colonial periods be subsumed within greater narratives of history? This class will examine 20th century processes of decolonization through lenses of history, literature, and art in the first part of the class, and engage in the creation of a scholarly work in the second part looking at an aspect of decolonization in a particular place or places.

     

    Section 002 (Lisa Biggs)

    Race, Gender, and Crime

    This course investigates the performance of crime and law enforcement in the late 20th century/early 21st century during era of mass incarceration.  It has a particular focus on U.S. responses to criminally offensive behavior under the frameworks of the War on Poverty, War on Drugs, and the War on Terror.  Narratives by people confined in U.S. prisons, jails, immigration facilities, military and juvenile detention centers anchor our studies, providing insights not only into who and what has been criminalized, but how performance has been employed as a means to enact justice, provide security, and control offenders. Students will conduct independent research on a topic of their choosing related to the course material.

     

    RCAH390 Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Estrella Torrez)

    Reclaiming Language and Schools

    Many heritage language communities have endured colonization through practices of forced relocation, boarding schools, English-Only policies, or genocide in the pursuit of societal progress and economic stability. Individuals have countered oppression through assimilation or by hiding traditional sociolinguistic practices from dominant culture. Oftentimes, these acts of ‘survivance’ have left younger generations curious about their ancestors’ knowledge and buried knowledge systems. As communities continue to reclaim schools as spaces to teach younger generations ‘traditional’ ways, young people are creatively imagining practices that bridge traditions with new forms of cultural expression.

     

    Section 002 (India Plough)

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research is a general survey course of sociolinguistics and sociolinguistic research methodologies. Combining lecture and seminar formats, the course introduces students to language variation, pragmatics, and language socialization. The relationships between language and attitudes, identities, and social networks are also explored. Readings of studies on world languages focus on a critical examination of the relationship between sociolinguistic phenomena and research methodology as well as the extent to which verbal behavior varies across languages and cultures. In-class activities are used to explicate sociolinguistic concepts. Throughout the course, research validity is emphasized in preparation for the class project in which students work in groups to conduct an empirical sociolinguistic research study. This requires students to 1) formulate a meaningful research question; 2) identify sources of data to answer the question; 3) determine a suitable method of data collection; 4) collect, analyze, and interpret the data; and 5) report results. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 003 (Austin Jackson)

    Black Talk: African American Language, Literacy, and Culture

    The African American community constitutes a distinct speech community, with its own organizational and sociolinguistic norms of interaction (Smitherman 1996).  African American Language (AAL, also called Ebonics or Black English) is an Africanized form of English forged in the crisis of U.S. slavery, racial segregation, and the Black struggle for freedom and equality.  In this course, we’ll explore the social, educational, and political implications of AAL in the 21st century.  Using the work of major scholars in sociolinguistics, literacy studies, and 1) examine AAL semantics, syntax, phonology, and morphology, 2) identify underlying historical and socio-economic forces responsible for shaping AAL, and 3) explore the impact of AAL within Black speech communities and U.S. and global popular culture.  

    We will examine language attitudes towards AAL, especially representations and misrepresentations of AAL within media and the Internet, and consider how such portrayals influence efforts to incorporate AAL within language and literacy instruction for Black children.  Additionally, we will give considerable attention to three major cases of U.S. language policy: Students’ Right to Their Own Language Resolution (1974), the King Ann Arbor “Black English” federal court case (1979), and the Oakland School District “Ebonics Decision" (1996-1997).  

    Assignments will include conducting linguistic and rhetorical analysis of AAL in literature, film, and popular culture (especially Rap music and Hip Hop culture).  Beyond the classroom, we will conduct participant-observations of AAL within predominately Black churches, campus student organizations, and other local African American speech communities.

     

    RCAH492 Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Dylan Miner)

    Beyond Capitalism: Senior Seminar in Radical Theory

    Can a world outside or beyond capitalism exist?  If it could, what would it look like? Moreover, is this anti-capitalist option one we should even explore?  In this senior seminar, we will investigate various theorists, activists, movements, and artists as they articulate, to borrow a phrase from the Zapatistas, ‘another possible world’.  Using Prof. Miner’s expertise in Indigenous, Third World, anti-colonial, and anarchist movements, we will pay particular attention to the ways in which these movements have attempted to form ‘the structure of the new society within the shell of the old,’ to use the language of the IWW.   As in other RCAH courses, creative and artistic exploration will be central to our working through these questions.

     

    Section 002 (Scot Yoder)

    Professional Ethics in the Arts and Humanities

    This course will focus on what it means to be a morally responsible professional.  We will begin by looking at professional ethics generally, move to ethical issues that students have encountered in RCAH courses and experiences, and finally to ethical issues that arise in the professions that RCAH students have often pursued.  Students will develop final projects related to their anticipated career choices. 

     

  • 2013-14

    Fall 2013 Courses

    RCAH111: Writing in Transcultural Contexts

    Section 001 (Eric Aronoff)

    Telling Stories:  Composing Knowledge in Transcultural Contexts

    In this section of RCAH 111, we will focus on the connection between culture and “storytelling,” broadly conceived.  That is, we will examine the ways in which culture shapes the ways we perceive the world around us, and how we organize those perceptions into oral and written narratives – be they what we conventionally would call “stories” like personal narratives, myths or novels, or other genres like scientific, academic or philosophical writing, each with their own generic rules for the “stories” they tell.  Drawing primarily on essays, short stories, novels and graphic novels, we will be particularly interested in what happens when different “cultures,” or ways of knowing and writing, collide, clash or mix, in a process we will call “transculturation.” In what ways, we will ask, does “culture” provide us with narratives, patterns, genres – what we might call “stories” -- through which we “shape” our experience into something meaningful?  In what ways do we deploy, bend, mix these “stories”? In what ways are cultural “ways of knowing” embodied in (or constituted by, or complicated through) different genres of writing? What do each of these ways of knowing/writing/storytelling reveal or enable us to see, and what might they leave out? Readings may include Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus, among others.

     

    Section 002 (David Sheridan)

    Transculturation in Michigan

    This class will investigate narratives of transculturation in Michigan, including stories set in Detroit, Benton Harbor, the Upper Peninsula, and mid-Michigan. These stories will help launch conversations about the challenges that emerge when diverse cultural groups come into contact. As a class, we will write about/against/in-response-to these narratives, producing a wide range of compositions, from analytical essays to multimedia projects.

     

    Section 003 (Terese Monberg)

    Travel, Migration, & Exile

    This course explores what it means to travel, cross borders, migrate, be displaced or exiled. Readings and discussion will focus on the different reasons people are prompted to travel or migrate, allowing us to examine tensions between home and travel, migration and exile, local and global communities, place and memory. Writing projects will ask students to apply concepts to their own experiences and to parallel cases of tourism, travel, migration, displacement, or exile. Students will have numerous opportunities to conceive, draft, revise, and complete writing projects tailored to various audiences.

     

    Section 004 (Austin Jackson)

    Race, Rhetoric, and the Arts of Resistance

    We will explore the role of language and culture within popular struggles for racial, social, and economic justice. Our task this semester is three-fold: we will 1) explore the intersecting rhetorics of race, class, and gender; 2) examine the role that writing has played in re-inscribing or resisting existing power relations in society; and 3) experiment with various modes of argumentation (from academic essays, dialogic journal writing, individual and group presentations, poetry, and visual art), writing in various genres or styles for multiple audiences and different rhetorical situations.

     

    Section 005 (Katie Wittenauer)

    The Writing of Food: Identity, Culture, and Conversation

    Throughout this course, we will explore the dialogues surrounding food-centric issues on local, national, and international levels and examine our own understanding of the relationships between food, identity, and culture. Through examining the diverse perspectives in a wide range of genres, including documentary film, non-fiction, food blogs, cookbooks, and advertisements, and by reflecting on and analyzing these conversations through composing in academic, professional and public genres for a range of audiences, we will work toward participating in and understanding the impact of the food-centric writing, activities and conversations that surround us. 

     

    Section 006 (John Meyers)

    Music, Technology, and Culture

    Developments in technology have vastly changed how we listen to music over the past century, from player pianos and the birth of recording in the late 1800s to contemporary controversies over sampling, Auto-Tune, and MP3s. In this course, we will examine how critics, musicians, and listeners have responded to these changes through various kinds of writing. What were their reactions to these changes? What did they hope their writing would accomplish? Whom were they addressing? By responding to a wide range of cases, students will begin to understand how similar issues and themes have played out over a long history, far beyond the latest Youtube viral video. In our own writing assignments, the emphasis will be on constructing arguments about music, technology, and culture supported by appropriate evidence, always carefully considering the audience for whom we are writing. 

     

    RCAH192 Proseminar

    Section 001 (Scot Yoder)

    Private Faith and Public Life.

    In the U.S. we seem to have a tenuous relationship with religion. On the one hand, officially the U.S. is a “secular” nation with no state religion and a constitution that guarantees the separation of church and state. On the other hand, in many ways we are a deeply religious nation. Surveys consistently suggest that a majority of citizens believe in God and religious institutions play important roles at the local and national level. We try to manage this tension by distinguishing between the public and private spheres of life, relegating religion to the latter, but this solution has been only partially successful as debates about matters such as the teaching intelligent design in public schools, public support for faith-based social services, and same-sex marriage demonstrate. The goal of this course is to explore the intersection of religious belief and public life.  We will explore the following sorts of questions: What does it mean to have a “secular” society? How do our religious beliefs shape how we respond to public issues? How should they? Does religious faith improve or harm our public lives? How can we talk respectfully and constructively about religion?

     

    Section 002 (Lisa Biggs)

    Introduction to Performance Theory and Analysis

    Human beings use performances ranging from the artistic to the cultural to the everyday to affirm their sense of belonging, negotiate identity, transform conflicts, engage in politics, educate, entertain, and much more.  In this course, students will be introduced to the field of Performance Studies, in particular the art of interpreting and analyzing dramatic scripts, non-dramatic texts, and theatrical productions as an entry point for the study of culture, social roles and identity.  Central to our work will be an opportunity to dive deeply into the annual One Book/One Lansing community engagement text. Group discussions and assigned readings will be complemented by field trips to theatre, dance, and sporting events on campus, improvisation workshops, and opportunities to devise short performance pieces in class.

     

    Section 003 (Donna Rich Kaplowitz)

    Social Identity, Intercultural Dialogue and Social Justice

    This course examines how various social identity groups in the United States contribute to systems of privilege and oppression. Though the primary emphasis of this course will focus on race and ethnicity, attention will also be given to gender, religion, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation and other social identity markers. Throughout the semester, we will use engaging readings, TED talks, social media, in-class activities, films, campus resources, and guest speakers to foster student exploration of their own social group memberships and multiple identities.  Students will also consider how their group membership relates to individual, institutional and cultural forms of oppression and privilege socialization. Students will become familiar with various methodologies for developing understanding across different identity groups. Finally, students will examine their own spheres of influence, and discuss how to be an ally to other social identity groups. Come prepared to challenge previously held assumptions and engage in profound personal and intellectual growth.

     

    RCAH202 The Presence of the Past

    Section 001 (Donna Rich Kaplowitz)

    What Difference Can a Revolution Make? 

    The Impact of the Cuban Revolution, Past and Present

    RCAH 202 asks us to understand the presence of the past. In this class we will explore how political revolutions are perceived and what the impact of revolution means over time and across borders.  This class will use the Cuban Revolution as a case study to learn about the historical meaning and impact of revolutions.

    In 1959, 90 miles south of Florida, Fidel Castro and a small band of revolutionaries overthrew Cuba’s US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista. In this section of 202, we will examine how this historic event, now over half a century old, has continued to impact life on the island, and around the world to this day.

    This class will examine the political-historical roots of the Cuban revolution. We will study how the Cuban revolution profoundly impacted life on the island and around the world.  We will answer questions like: How has the Cuban revolution influenced US domestic policy, foreign policy and world politics? Why is the Cuban revolution still able to influence US and world politics? How did revolution in this tiny Caribbean nation send political tidal waves through Latin America, Africa and Asia? What do human rights mean in a post-Soviet communist country? We will look at how the failed Bay of Pigs invasion led directly to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and why that still matters, 50 years later.  We’ll examine poetry, print media, music, film and more and understand how the Cuban revolution’s historic commitment to the arts continues to shape today’s art movement in Cuba and the world.  We’ll also explore Cuba’s commitment to educational equity; the revolution’s attempt to address racial inequality; the evolution of the role of religion in public life on the island; how the revolution has responded to sexism and heterosexism over time; and much more! Be prepared to listen Cuba’s latest pop music, eat moros y cristianos, watch Cuban film, and challenge Cuban and US foreign policy!

     

    Section 002 (Dylan Miner)

    The Presence of the Past through Comics and Documentary Films

    In this section, we will cover three distinct ways of ‘representing the past’: writing, comics, and documentary cinema.  Using comics and films as the primary sites of inquiry, this course will investigate how and why the past influences our contemporary cultural, political, and social practices.  Throughout, students will begin to see how the past remains important in our everyday activities and how we are active agents in constructing ‘history’ in the present. 

     

    Section 003 (John Aerni-Flessner)

    Slavery

    Going back to the Roman Empire and working toward the present, this class looks at how various forms of involuntary servitude (conveniently all lumped together under the term “slavery”) have served as underpinnings for production of goods and services. We will look at the Atlantic World, but also the Indian Ocean World, and systems on the African continent to compare involuntary servitude across time and space. We will be looking at how these systems of involuntary labor differed and were similar—and debate whether they were all “slavery.” We will also examine how they contributed in ways large and small to the creation of the globalized world in which we live. The forces that led to the rise and fall of slavery have shaped our world in a wide variety of ways, and this course will help you interrogate the ways in which this is still important, and how debates over the legacy of slavery and reparations have been and continue to be contentious.

     

    Section 004 (Joanna Bosse)

    African Music

    As a phenomenon that is bound so deeply to the identity of people and place--one that nevertheless travels through time and space independently of the people who make it--music provides a unique sonic vantage point from which to study the presence of the past. Taking African music as our focus, this course will explore the ways that contemporary African musical practice testifies to the currents of African history and presents listeners with a set of ethical challenges that have implications for our shared future. For over the last centuries, African music has been received with much curiosity, confusion, romanticization, and misinformation among western audiences, perhaps more so than any other type of music. This history informs the way we learn about African music today, in ways that the learners themselves may not even comprehend.

    This course will be highly interactive. Throughout the semester, we will listen to, write about, talk about, read about, and perform several musical genres from sub-Saharan Africa. We will also learn about important moments in African (and world) history, gain greater fluency in expressive forms, literacy in musical concepts, while developing a greater understanding of who we are as learners, creators, and citizens of the world.  One need not have formal training in music to succeed in this course. Those who do have musical training will find their skills challenged in new and exciting ways.

     

    Section 005 (Lisa Biggs)

    Crimes, Rights and Punishments

    In this course, we investigate the development of contemporary crime theory and legal practices by asking critical questions how crime is constructed, law enacted, and punishment administered. This is not a legal studies or political science class. Instead, we approach the concepts of criminalization, punishment, justice and law enforcement using ethnographic, historical, and literary sources (plays, novels, short stories, poems etc). These materials, often written from a grassroots perspective, illuminate how U.S. public policies and institutions actually function. What behaviors are criminal(ized)?  How was justice and punishment understood and enacted? How have those practices persisted or changed over time? Where is innovation occurring today, and how might MSU students get involved?

     

    RCAH 281 Career Strategies

    Section 001 (Niki Rudolph)

    Liberal Arts on the Job

    This course will help you prepare for a career that engages the arts and humanities on a daily basis. You’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses and how your passions can translate into careers. You’ll build your personal brand, job shadow, hear from arts and humanities graduates and professionals, and gain a better understanding about writing a resume, interviewing and articulating the RCAH degree to potential graduate schools, employers and partners. After completing this course, you will more fully understand the value and marketability of a Liberal Arts degree.

     

    RCAH291 Arts Workshops

    Section 001 (Guillermo Delgado)

    Possibilities with Paint

    In this creative workshop, you will explore the possibilities of paint through a variety of visual mediums.  You will experiment and practice painting in a variety of venues and examine the way painting interplays with context.  Painting experiences will help us explore topics and genres from the traditional – portraits and landscapes – to the theoretical, such as cultural studies and social justice issues. The objective for this class is to become familiar with painting techniques and art history while also developing an individualized painting practice that will enable you to translate ideas into visual narratives.  Watercolor and acrylic paints will be the primary mediums, though your artistic repertoire and exposure to different genres is a key objective. At the end of the semester, you will organize and exhibit your paintings in a group show on campus. No painting experience necessary and all skill levels are welcome. Come join the fun!

     

    Section 002 (David Sheridan)

    Advanced Media Production and Design

    This workshop will explore the social and aesthetic potentials of print-, video-, and web-based media. Content is tailored to students who already have a background in one or more of these areas. Students will generate creative and socially meaningful projects in all three media formats and will explore fundamental principles of design in the process. We will also explore strategies for critiquing the work of others. This class will provide excellent preparation for anyone who wishes to work in the RCAH Language and Media Center. Students who wish to enroll in this section should contact David Sheridan (sherid16@msu.edu).

     

    Section 003 (Dylan Miner)

    Art, Ecology and Sustainability in the Great Lakes

    This art studio-workshop course is an interdisciplinary and artistic exploration of ecology and sustainability in the transborder Great Lakes region (US and Canada, including numerous sovereign Indigenous nations on both sides).  While Prof. Miner’s art uses printmaking and community collaboration at the core, this workshop will allow students to explore their own artistic interests in relationship to the ‘natural world’, while studying the ways that contemporary artists critically reflect upon ecology, sustainability, and the environment.  In addition to making art about, with, and in our local environments, final project will be a collaboration with Prof. Torrez’ RCAH 292B to produce a portfolio of screenprints. The portfolio will be based on how Lansing Latino youth see their ‘sense of place’ in the Great Lakes.

     

    Section 004 (Diane Newman)

    Dance as Human Experience

    Why do humans have an innate impulse to move, to dance? Through observation and exploration, students begin with a personal journey, from noticing ordinary movement to recognizing the extraordinary choices and possibilities that dance offers. Relationships to the broader context of history, culture, communication, social issues, and aesthetics are realized over the arc of experience. Students in this class can expect to move, to discover, to create, to write. They will learn to recognize dance/movement as an everyday tool by which humans experience and interpret life. No previous dance experience necessary.

     

    RCAH292A Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Vincent Delgado)

    Community Storytelling

    This proseminar on engagement will use hands-on learning to motivate, excite, inspire and sensitize students to deeper reflection and civic engagement activities in the college. Through discussions on the nature of civic engagement, students will engage in discovery of their own community as well as new communities across campus and mid-Michigan.  Specifically, we’ll be working with with particular communities, which may include, youth groups, refugees and artists in mid-Michigan to explore the critical engagement concepts of place, passion and imagination. These stories will be archived and disseminated as decided during our engagement with these communities. This activity will provide focus for our work. But we’ll add in texts, multimedia resources and additional hands-on activities to prepare us for higher-level thinking and involvement in engagement course work and community-based activism. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (Terese Monberg)

    Serving Versus Sustaining Communities

    This proseminar prepares students for civic engagement in the RCAH and beyond by exploring the differences between serving a community and sustaining one over time. As Karen McKnight Casey argues, the United States has a “distinct culture” of nonprofit and community-based organizations that depend on volunteerism. And while volunteerism has its place in community-based work, it often privileges a short-term commitment and a short-term understanding of communities. But communities—and the economic, social, racial, local, and global contexts in which they exist and operate—change over time, meaning that community-based organizations are continually challenged to reassess what work is possible and necessary at different points in time.

    This proseminar will introduce students to the RCAH approach to civic engagement by exploring the challenges of building and sustaining community-based institutions, movements, and partnerships and the role that students might play in these processes.

    We will listen to oral histories by community activists, explore debates on volunteerism and engagement, and work with local community organizers and partners to gain an understanding of the larger social context in which community partnerships are built and sustained. The aim of the course is to help students appreciate what drives community-based movements, how the context surrounding these movements shifts over time, and how communities adapt and assess what still needs to be done.

     

    RCAH292B Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Guillermo Delgado)

    Art @ Work

    For this civic engagement (and civic creativity) course, you will create art and participate in experiential dialogues with clients at Peckham, Inc., a nonprofit vocational rehabilitation organization that provides job training opportunities for persons with significant disabilities and other barriers to employment. There will be opportunities to explore and engage in the creative processes with the Peckham community and other RCAH students, faculty and visiting artists in the co-creation of a 40’X200’ art installation on a concrete wall. You will help organize, participate in, and lead art-making and writing workshops for clients at Peckham, and explore critical topics such as cultural identity processes through interactive personal histories. Ample time will be reserved for creating art and reflecting in the RCAH art studio.  You will work to refine community art-making skills and for creating an artistic personal map based on your civic engagement journey. No art skills necessary and all art skill levels are welcome. Come join the fun!

     

    Section 002 (Patricia Rogers)

    "It's Great to Be a Girl!" 

    This course contains both a civic engagement component that takes place in the community and an academic component in the classroom.  The class will partner with Mt. Hope School in Lansing to run an after-school program based on the initiative "It's Great to Be a Girl" (IGBG).  This civic engagement activity involves working with pre-adolescent (fifth-grade) girls to help build and foster self-esteem at a critical moment in their development.  Topics and activities will focus on issues such as body image, media, friendships, bullying, and career goals, among others.

    In the classroom, undergraduates will read and discuss scholarly articles centering on gender.  Many of the materials will delve into the same issues raised by our themes and topics at Cumberland; issues that confront all females (girls and women) in American society.  Through work with pre-adolescent girls as well as the academic readings and discussions, this class will help undergraduates understand their own experience in relation to society as demonstrated through gender roles and stereotypes.

     

    Section 003 (Candace Keller-Claytor)

    Photovoice

    Students in this course will work with community members on a Photovoice project. Photovoice is an innovative photo essay method that incorporates the process of documentary photography with the practices of empowerment education and civic democracy. It puts cameras in the hands of individuals often excluded from decision-making processes in order to capture their voices and visions about their lives, community concerns, and insights. By sharing their stories about these images, reflecting with others about the broader meanings of the photos they have taken, and displaying these photos and stories for the broader public and policy makers to view, Photovoice photographers are provided with a unique opportunity to document and communicate important aspects of their lives. Over the semester, students in this course will learn compositional and technical aspects of photography as means of visual expression and narrative, while studying the methods, history, and practices of Photovoice as a mode of civic engagement, as they plan and implement a Photovoice project working with members of the Lansing Refugee Development Center.

     

    Section 004 (Estrella Torrez)

    Nuestros Cuentos

    Currently, 1 in 5 public school system students is Latino. Meanwhile, recent national studies found that nearly half of all Latino students do not earn a high school diploma.  Lansing School District (LSD) reflects these trends. LSD Latino student demographics show that this population has strong English language proficiency, has lived in the area for multiple generations, and continually underperform in the classroom compared to other minority students. 

    In this course, we will partner with the Lansing School District to create and implement programming meant to bolster the Latino student voice. Highlighting the Latino experience in Michigan, RCAH and LSD students will collaboratively work to tell the story of Lansing Latinos, both past and present. Engaging with elementary students, we will assist in their learning about the importance of their own story and their impact in the community. This course will be linked with Prof. Miner’s RCAH 291 Creative Workshop and engage with issues of community and ‘ecology’. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    RCAH330 Nature and Culture

    Section 001 (Scot Yoder)

    The Ethics of Being and Becoming Human

    In this course we will draw upon material from philosophy, literature, art, and history to explore multiple versions of the questions, “What does it mean to be human?”  Is there such a thing as a fixed human nature or is it something malleable that is in flux? How is technology affecting how we think about human nature? Are there moral limits to how we can create and enhance humans, and if so, what are they? The goal of the course is to explore such questions.

    Note:  Portions of this course will be taught in conjunction with Aronoff’s RCAH 340: Technology and Creativity.

     

    RCAH340 Technology and Creativity

    Section 001 (Eric Aronoff)

    Technology and Creativity: Fictions of Science and Technology

    This course will examine the interplay between scientific philosophies, technology and literature.  We will explore this interplay in terms of both content and form: in other words, we will study the ways in which the “subject matter” of science and technology – the theories, discoveries, inventions of science – are explored within novels and short stories to probe their implications for our conceptions of society, the self, and art; we will also think about how scientific “ways of knowing” – rationality, empiricism, linear narrative – have been deployed and resisted to shape the genres of the realist novel, detective fiction, gothic tales and science fiction.  Finally, we will also think about how the technology of the book itself shapes the kinds of narratives that can be produced, and how new technologies – the internet, hypertext, etc. – might produce new kinds of narratives. Texts might include: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake; Ray Bradbury,  The Martian Chronicles; William Gibson,  Neuromancer; Mary Shelley,  Frankenstein; Neal Stephenson,  The Diamond Age; H.G. Wells,  The War of the Worlds.

    This course will be closely coordinated with Prof. Scot Yoder’s RCAH 330: Nature and Culture course on Human Enhancement.  While most class sessions will meet separately (and students register for only one of the two courses), the two classes will also meet frequently to discuss issues and texts of common concern.

     

    RCAH380 Third Year Tutorial

    Section 001 (Carolyn Loeb)

    Women and Art

    Do today’s visual arts, from painting to performance art, baffle you, excite you, or leave you cold? Chances are they do all three, depending. Many of the approaches that artists use today have their roots in challenging artworks made by women artists in the 1970s. What did these artists do that led their work to have such a far-reaching impact? Do works created today continue to embody their spirit and insights?

    In this course, we will look at innovations and experimentation in such watershed works as the collaborative, site-specific, temporary installations in Womanhouse (Los Angeles, 1972), the collaborative, multi-media construction of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party (1974-79), and the development of Miriam Schapiro’s concept of femmage. Through these pieces, women artists decisively shifted how art was made and thought about.

    In the guided project that is the focus of a Third-Year Tutorial, you will then explore how contemporary artists relate to the core of new ideas opened up by these earlier artists: recovery of women artists of the past; development of alternative media; collaboration; interrogation of issues of the body, identity, power, and the media; shaping public space; community engagement; and re-evaluation of dominant aesthetic ideas. How have these emphases changed? How do today’s more globalized women artists relate to them and lead them in new directions?

    The guided project can be a research paper, a visual presentation, a study of a local arts venue, or another endeavor developed by students in consultation with me. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (Joanna Bosse)

    Social Power and Popular Music

    This course will engage students in a critical exploration of the ways that social values, and in particular, social power, are encoded in popular music, with our work centered on the role of class, gender, and race.  The centerpiece of the course will be the independent project that may take any form, including (but not limited to) a scholarly paper; a performance or other type of artistic work; a blog or other form of music criticism/journalism; video or other multi-media form; etc.

     

    RCAH390 Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Estrella Torrez)

    Education in a Multilingual Community

    In this course, we will investigate issues of language attrition and revitalization. We will focus on how language is affected by educational policy, particularly through the emergence (and transformation) of bilingual education. Through seminar-style learning we will discuss the following questions: Are languages equal? Why should younger generations learn a heritage language in a globalized economy? Should resource-strapped educational systems expend funds to provide multilingual education? Should we separate students into homogenous linguistic groups? In addition to these questions, students will investigate how schools are working with heritage language communities to become active agents in maintaining language and protecting their community’s way of life. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (India Plough)

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research is a general survey course of sociolinguistics and sociolinguistic research methodologies. Combining lecture and seminar formats, the course introduces students to language variation, pragmatics, and language socialization. The relationships between language and attitudes, identities, and social networks are also explored. Readings of studies on world languages focus on a critical examination of the relationship between sociolinguistic phenomena and research methodology as well as the extent to which verbal behavior varies across languages and cultures. In-class activities are used to explicate sociolinguistic concepts. Throughout the course, research validity is emphasized in preparation for the class project in which students work in groups to conduct an empirical sociolinguistic research study. This requires students to 1) formulate a meaningful research question; 2) identify sources of data to answer the question; 3) determine a suitable method of data collection; 4) collect, analyze, and interpret the data; and 5) report results. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 003 (Austin Jackson)

    Black Talk: African American Language, Literacy, and Culture

    The African American community constitutes a distinct speech community, with its own organizational and sociolinguistic norms of interaction (Smitherman 1996).  African American Language (AAL, also called Ebonics or Black English) is an Africanized form of English forged in the crisis of U.S. slavery, racial segregation, and the Black struggle for freedom and equality.  In this course, we’ll explore the social, educational, and political implications of AAL in the 21st century.  Using the work of major scholars in sociolinguistics, literacy studies, and 1) examine AAL semantics, syntax, phonology, and morphology, 2) identify underlying historical and socio-economic forces responsible for shaping AAL, and 3) explore the impact of AAL within Black speech communities and U.S. and global popular culture.  

    We will examine language attitudes towards AAL, especially representations and misrepresentations of AAL within media and the Internet, and consider how such portrayals influence efforts to incorporate AAL within language and literacy instruction for Black children.  Additionally, we will give considerable attention to three major cases of U.S. language policy: Students’ Right to Their Own Language Resolution (1974), the King Ann Arbor “Black English” federal court case (1979), and the Oakland School District “Ebonics Decision" (1996-1997).  

    Assignments will include conducting linguistic and rhetorical analysis of AAL in literature, film, and popular culture (especially Rap music and Hip Hop culture).  Beyond the classroom, we will conduct participant-observations of AAL within predominately Black churches, campus student organizations, and other local African American speech communities.

     

    RCAH395 Special Topics-Arts & Humanities

    Section 001 (Vincent Delgado)

    Cultures of Creativity in Action

    This special topics course will deepen interdisciplinary scholarship developed between freshman RCAH and College of Engineering students during a summer 2014 study away in Detroit. Through readings, discussions, reflection, design labs and active and applied collaboration, students will work in teams to develop their own “cultures of creativity” in designing, testing and implementing technological solutions meant to address regional challenges. With assistance from the Ford Community Fund, the result will be robust, useful and something that no one has ever seen before. While we will review current organizational scholarship on the idea of interdisciplinary creativity and innovation through the process, we will also use an anthropological lens to look at how teams, including ours, work.

     

    Section 002 (Laura DeLind)

    Food Sovereignties: What do they mean & how will we know them when we eat them?

    Food connects human beings to their bodies, histories, aesthetics, ideologies, natural and built environments, and economic, sociocultural, and political systems. As a connector, it provides a lens through which we can explore our relationships to one another to non-human life forms and to the earth itself.  What we know (and don’t know) about our food and our food system has life-sustaining and life-threatening implications.

    “Food sovereignty” is a term that has grown increasingly popular within today’s food movement.  Its fundamental principles – food as a basic right, agrarian reform, fair trade, the elimination of corporate domination, social justice, democratic control, and harmony with nature – have been adopted in whole or in part by many farmers, laborers, consumers and corporate traders. But what does all this actually look like and taste like?

    This course critically explores the concept of “sovereignty” as it applies to the contemporary food system. We begin by discussing its historic roots, political rhetoric, and legal protections as a foundation for recognizing issues of power and domination. “Who has sovereignty, individuals or collectives?”  “Who gets to say who is sovereign?” “What are different forms of sovereignty and do they conflict?”

    Next we explore different “cases” that bring food sovereignties into greater personal and contemporary focus. We consider a) labor rights (e.g., Coalition of Immokalee Workers), b) indigenous peoples’ rights (place-based knowledges), c) consumer rights (e.g., GMOs), d) domestic and international fair trade (e.g., terroir), and e) human rights (e.g., Gates Foundation).

    Students are responsible for leading class discussions, for several short essays and a final research paper. 

    NOTE: This course can be used as a Nature and Culture Pathway course. It also is being offered as (and concurrent with) PHL 353, Core Themes in P/J Studies; Instructor: Kyle Powys Whyte kwhyte@msu.edu. It serves as a core course for the P&J Studies specialization.

     

    RCAH492 Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Anita Skeen)

    Geographies, Journey and Maps: Where we are Going, Where we have Been

    “To ask for a map is to say, ‘Tell me a story,’” writes Peter Turchi.  In this seminar we will consider various geographies that we inhabit/have inhabited and various journeys that we and other writers have undertaken.  We will examine and create maps, both literal and metaphorical, that tell important stories about who we are as individuals and as a culture. We will look at the writer as cartographer and how through exploration (premeditated searching or undisciplined rambling) and presentation (creating a document meant to communicate with and have an effect on others) we lead both writer and reader on a journey into worlds both real and imagined.

     

     

     

    Spring 2014 Courses

     

    RCAH112 Writing Research Technologies

    Section 001 (Eric Aronoff)

    Our America

    The focus of this section of RCAH 112 is the idea of “American culture” as it is renegotiated and reimagined in the United States in the 1920s and 30s. More accurately, we might say we are investigating shifts in “American” “culture,” since, we will discover, both of these terms – what it means to be an “American” and what it means to “have culture” – undergo crucial and complex shifts in this period.  As many scholars have observed, Americans in the post-WWI era were intensively searching to define a specifically American cultural identity. But even as American writers and critics in the ‘20s attempted to redefine the content of a particularly “American” culture, the form of culture as a concept – what counted as “culture” –  was itself undergoing radical transformations, particularly from within American anthropology, a discipline that one might argue was being invented in the period around new ideas of "culture" and pluralism.

    This section, then, will examine debates over “American” culture, race, national identity and art in the modernist period.  Looking at various primary documents, with particular attention to the arts (modernist poetry, literature, jazz and other media), we will ask:  how do these texts imagine the relationship between “race,” “nation,” and “culture”? How do these constructions engage debates over immigration, assimilation and pluralism? What is the relationship between “culture,” art, and new modes of technology?  How did new forms of artistic expression (broadly speaking, “modernist” art) respond to, challenge, or incorporate these new social conditions? We will then think about how these modernist debates reverberate in contemporary, 21st Century contexts, in questions of transnational migration, national identity, cultural “ownership” and authenticity, etc. The breadth of these questions will allow for a wide variety of approaches and specific interest:  like all sections of 112, we will be able to pursue the burning questions we raise by developing our skills as researchers and writers.

     

    Section 002 (Scot Yoder)

    Researching and Writing about Ethical Issues

    While ethical questions are often considered to be very personal, they are also at the heart of many public controversies ranging from reproductive rights to gun control.  In this course we will use both public and scholarly reflection on ethical issues to deepen our understanding of the practice of research and writing in the humanities. We will use this material in order to increase our understanding of 1) what it means to do research in the humanities, 2) how to use writing as a means of inquiry, 3) how to evaluate and construct arguments, and 4) how to conduct and present a research project in the humanities.  Each student will produce a thesis-driven research paper on a relevant topic of their choice, a project utilizing an alternative format for presenting the results of their research, and a writing portfolio documenting both these final products and the processes used to produce them. 

     

    Section 004 (Tama Hamilton-Wray)

    Black Female Cinema          

    This course looks at the social, political, economic, and artistic implications of black female-centered cinema. We will use various film theories to investigate this cinema and to gain an understanding of the role of black female-centered cinema in society. Using the film literacy developed in the class, students will create an in-depth study of an alternative cinema.

     

    Section 005 (Mark Balawender)

    Shifting Conceptions of Social Violence

    Violence is commonly understood as a direct, intentional and physical phenomenon. We’ve been at war for the past 12 years, frequently hear about mass shootings, and are mesmerized by terrorist acts in the US. Millions were absorbed by coverage of the Boston marathon bombing. However, in the week following, much less attention was paid to the collapse of a building that housed clothing factories in Bangladesh which killed over 800 workers. Understood at once by increasingly angry Bangladeshis as the result of competitive economic practices, one might ask whether that accident was also a kind of violence and perhaps more morally troubling than acts of terrorism because of the sheer number of people its causes implicate. Poor working conditions, low safety standards and lack of worker autonomy are systematically caused by the way we produce the stuff we need. Factories in that collapsed building produced clothes for brands like The Children’s Place, Benneton and JC Penny. So, rather than being a world apart from us, it’s likely that one of us (or someone we know) has worn clothes produced there.

    This class will develop your research writing and presentation skills by exploring some of the forms violence takes in a modern globalized society.  We will look at some of the ways scholars have tried to broaden the concept of violence to include structural and symbolic understandings and use these expanded conceptions as the basis of our own research projects. You will investigate a case study of your own choosing and learn how to develop and present your investigation in the form of an academic research paper and a poster. Emphasis will be placed on the practice of “writing in order to think.” This will include weekly writing assignments that investigate the readings of the course, and a series of “deliverables” that, together, will take you through the steps of completing an academic research project.

     

    Section 006 (Austin Jackson)

    Black Popular Culture and Social Movements

    This section explores the function of culture in maintaining or resisting unjust power relations in society. As positionality is always an important part of critical inquiry, our work this semester will begin with self-reflection and exploration. We will consider how subjective knowledge or personal experiences impact the ways that individuals and groups “read” or interpret race, class, and difference in society. We will then turn to critical social theory (especially Marxism, Black Feminism, and Critical Race Theory) for close readings of various socio-cultural “texts” -- from civil rights/Black power aesthetics to Rap music and Hip Hop culture -- for insight into the ways that “the voices on the margins” resist forces of domination. From this perspective, we will construct critical research projects that consider popular culture and New Media technologies as important means of communal problem solving within contemporary movements for racial, social, and economic justice.

     

    RCAH192 Proseminar

    Section 001 (Terese Monberg)

    Globalization and Local Life: Workers, Families, and Communities of Resistance

    Globalization is often thought of as an economic phenomenon, but what are the cultural dimensions of globalization? How have the movements and flows of globalization reshaped notions of work and family, forms of public life, culture, and the arts? Arjun Appadurai argues that globalization “produces problems that manifest themselves in intensely local forms but have contexts that are anything but local.” This course examines how globalization processes impact local life. Juxtaposing globalization at the turn of the 20th century with present forms of globalization, we will look for similar and divergent patterns of (uneven) economic development, resulting migrations, and how people have redefined notions of work, family, community, transnational identity, and social justice. We will take an interdisciplinary and sometimes collaborative approach, drawing from understandings of globalization from history, sociology, literature, and film. The course will encourage students to investigate how globalization processes impact childhood and society, art and public life, conceptions of nature and culture, and the possibilities and responsibilities of technological and creative production.

     

    Section 002 (Steve Baibak)

    Reclamation Studio, It’s a Safe Place to Talk Trash

    Reclamation Studio, it’s a safe place to talk trash, is a course based on gleaning, reuse, and transformation of found, second hand, or inherited objects. The course is designed to help students alter their perception of objects, so they can see them as base materials: plastic, metal, wood, or fiber. We will dissect forms to discover their potential frame works, cavities, openings, and abstract forms. We will look at connective materials, bolts, wires, rivets, interlocking tabs, springs, hinges, and lashings. There will be experiments on surfacing objects, (the great transformer), sanding, abrading, eroding, denting, and shredding. 

    In the course we will create some utilitarian objects, tools, instruments, or things aid to help them in their daily passage, also we will construct abstract ornaments of pure aesthetic. The abstract becomes a way of exploring material relationships and potentialities without having to conceive a meaning. We will talk about the differences between the utilitarian and abstract, and the importance of both.

    The students will be exposed to writings, and consume films about our great abundance. The class will also visit and will sometimes be held at MSU Surplus; the hub of MSU’s recycling, and a great resource for materials.

    Reclamation Studio’s goal is to help us to become more resourceful and to highlight our own responsibility as consumers.

     

    Section 003 (Eric Aronoff)

    Comics and Culture

    Ten years ago, comic books could be found only in spin racks in the local convenience store, in specialty comic shops, and maybe in the “humor” section of the bookstore.  Today a whole section of Barnes & Noble is given over to “graphic novels,” and each month the section gets larger. This course will examine the comic book and the graphic novel both in terms of form, history and cultural significance within the U.S., and across cultures.  We will begin examining how comics “work” – how comics combine visual art and the written word to create an art form with its own “grammar,” and its own kind of narrative forms. We then will examine the history of the comic book in U.S. culture, focusing on “superhero” comics from the Golden Age to the present, to ask how comics reflect and shape the values, anxieties, and myths of these periods.  We will also examine the range of comic forms and genres that have emerged in the last several decades beyond the superhero comic: personal memoir and historical trauma (Maus, Persepolis), autobiographical comics (American Born Chinese, work of Ryan Claytor and others), comic journalism (Joe Sacco and others), etc. We will also examine comics in cultures other than the U.S., such as Mexican photonovellas, Japanese Manga, and others.

     

    RCAH203 Transcultural Relations

    Section 001 (Dylan Miner)

    The Transcultural Relations of Food

    As you’ve probably heard before, ‘you are what you eat’.  In this course, we will use this adage as the basis to analyze and decode the role that food plays throughout global histories.  Accordingly, we will study food as a cultural expression that links the world into a common and interconnected world-system. The course will include historical, cultural, and sociological inquiries into food and food’s larger meaning.  We will actively engage in cooking and eating, as well as thinking and writing about food. Food and the ways humans eat will be the impetus to understand ‘transculturation’ and global cultural change.

     

    Section 002 (Patricia Rogers)

    Transcultural Relations through the Narrative

    Roland Barthes wrote in 1966, "narrative is present in every age, in every place, in every society; it begins with the very history of mankind ... Narrative is international, transhistorical, transcultural:  it is simply there, like life itself."

    RCAH 203 asks us to explore a (very) broad concept, namely "transcultural relations," or relations (and relationships) that intersect or intermingle with multiple cultures.  The process of defining and understanding transcultural relations, in turn, raises other very broad concepts and/or questions. For example, how and why do various and multiple cultures interact with one another?  And what form does this contact take? Or, we could ask what separates one culture from another? This raises the question of differences between cultures (that can make transcultural relations necessary) and similarities (that can make transcultural relations possible).  In order to attempt to understand this broad concept of transcultural relations, our section of RCAH 203 will focus on the phenomenon of the narrative.

     

    Section 003 (Candace Keller-Claytor)

    Art and Cultural Exchange among Africa, Europe, and the Americas

    For centuries, Africa has engaged in cultural exchange with Europe and the Americas via trade, diplomacy, war, and human migration, affecting the cultural productions, practices, and belief systems of each continent. Expedited by recent technological advances in telecommunications and transportation, such interactions raise critical questions:

    • What are the social and environmental repercussions of such exchanges?
    • How have those impacted and been represented in visual arts?
    • What is the role of individuals, namely artists and their patrons, in these processes?
    • What significance do these past and present relations hold for our collective futures?

    To help us think about these issues and become more aware of our interdependent relationship with Africa today, we will consider key moments in transcultural encounters from pre-colonial times to the present, including early forms of tourist art production, the spread of Islam and Christianity, and the proliferation of photography on the continent; connections between the spiritual beliefs and artworks in Africa and those, such as Vodun and Rastafarianism, in the Americas and Caribbean. Furthermore, we will explore the powerful influence that African art has had on European modernism and international contemporary art.

     

    Section 004 (John Aerni-Flessner)

    Sports, Leisure, Nationalism, and Citizenship in 20th Century Africa

    This course examines histories of sport and leisure to interrogate concepts of nationalism and citizenship. How were leaders attempting to harness sport and leisure to create national communities, and how did people respond to these efforts? How did African sport and leisure get so intertwined with international politics that they became venues for protesting apartheid South Africa, fighting racial discrimination, and having African-derived or produced music and films becoming cultural lynchpins in societies across the globe? These questions will drive our examination of particular cases from African History, as we look at how debates over citizenship and nationalism have played out in different national and cultural settings. We will compare these cases across time and space to see how people have defined inclusion and exclusion within ethnic groups, national boundaries, and national citizenship. 20th place for this type of examination as colonial rule gave way to independent nation-states, and debates over these issues reached deeply into societies—some of which had to fight colonial powers simply to gain the right to have this conversation. Other, more peaceful transitions, still afforded people a chance to debate these issues thoroughly with the coming creation of new countries. Still later, mega sporting events, like the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and the issue of athletes switching citizenship to better cash in on Olympic or international soccer opportunities gives us great latitude to see arguments about citizenship from a diversity of perspectives.

     

    RCAH291 Arts Workshops

    Section 001 (John Meyers)

    Brazilian Percussion

    In Brazil, percussion music serves a variety of important functions, including famous parades like Rio’s Carnaval, street dances, and political marches. In this workshop, students will learn to perform several genres of Brazilian percussion music (such as samba and samba-reggae) while also learning about how these genres function in social settings in Brazil and around the world. No previous musical or percussion experience is necessary because, as in Brazil, we will be playing music that is meant to be played, sung, and danced to by the entire community.

     

    Section 002 (Guillermo Delgado)

    Call and Response: Painting Inspired by Poetry

    Dive into the world of parallel processes through this seminar on painting and poetry. Throughout art history, great works of literature have inspired artists, and the parallel processes of creativity have important connections for both art forms.  In this course, you will explore poems by poets that include Sherman Alexie, Martín Espada, Basho, Octavio Páz, Sonia Sanchez, Sandra Cisneros, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Kay Ryan, among others. Your goal as an artist will be to develop and create a painting language that translates the essence of poems into a series of paintings.  Watercolor and acrylic paints will be the primary visual mediums. At the end of the course, you’ll work collaboratively with your classmates to create an art installation comprised of paintings and excerpts of text from the poems you created in class. No painting or poetry experience necessary and all skill levels are welcome. Come join the fun!

     

    Section 003 (Jeremy Herliczek)

    Social Documentary Photography

    In this class, students will study the history of photography as a tool for social justice, learning the technical and creative skills necessary to create their own social documentary projects. We will research contemporary photographers and study their techniques in conceiving, funding, photographing, editing, publishing and marketing photography projects for social change. No previous experience will be assumed, but previous experience will be welcomed. It would be highly desirable to have a DSL camera, but if that is not possible we can make arrangements for members to get access to one.

     

    Section 004 (Anita Skeen)

    Book Arts

    Ever want to print your own poem or story the way it was done 100 years ago? To make your own book? To collaborate on a book? If so, join a writer, a printer, a bookbinder, and a book historian in a semester long workshop where you learn about both the books you read and the books you make. You'll get to spend some time in the Special Collections at the MSU Library looking at, and touching, books that are hundreds of years old at well as learning about the library's collection of contemporary artists' books. Hand set type in the art studio, work with visiting artists who might specialize in anything from papermaking to Medieval book bindings, and, in the end, make your own books.

     

    Section 005 (Lisa Biggs)

    Theatre for Social Change

    In this course on creating original, interdisciplinary, theatrical performance, students will be exposed to a variety of grassroots U.S. and international strategies for devising new work, with a particular focus upon the practice of Theatre for Social Change.

     

    Section 006 (Doug DeLind)

    Adventuring with Clay

    In this creative workshop we will work with clay and investigate the ways clay has been used by different peoples in different times.  From the 26,000 year old Venus of Dolni to Will Vinton's California Raisins Claymation we will mirror the historic and contemporary use of clay in the things we make. We will also apply for grants/competitions for art in public places and create life-sized alter ego figures made from clay and found objects.  I have worked in clay for 40 years and while I have a lot to pass on, I still have much to learn and I am looking forward to seeing your new approaches to clay.

     

    RCAH292A Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Vincent Delgado)

    Community Storytelling

    This proseminar on engagement will use hands-on learning to motivate, excite, inspire and sensitize students to deeper reflection and civic engagement activities in the college. Through discussions on the nature of civic engagement, students will engage in discovery of their own community as well as new communities across campus and mid-Michigan.  Specifically, we’ll be working with particular communities, which may include youth groups, refugees and artists in mid-Michigan to explore the critical engagement concepts of place, passion and imagination. These stories will be archived and disseminated as decided during our engagement with these communities. This activity will provide focus for our work. We’ll add in texts, multimedia resources and additional hands-on activities to prepare us for higher-level thinking and involvement in engagement course work and community-based activism. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (Stephen Esquith)

    Big Ideas for All Ages

    This introduction to civic engagement in the RCAH centers on the importance of big ideas for all ages.  These ideas include bravery, fairness, community, and beauty, among others. The course has three components.  We will read the work of two important historical figures that have shaped our understanding of civic engagement as an integral part of education: Jane Addams and Myles Horton.   We will review the model of civic engagement that the RCAH has adopted in light of the work of these writers and activists. The RCAH model of engagement stresses the importance of critical self-reflection, practical engagement with communities other than our own, an active commitment to social justice, and passionate enjoyment and friendship-building through engagement.   Finally, we will experience civic engagement by participating in two of the programs at the Edgewood Village Community Center in East Lansing. RCAH students will have the choice of working with younger students in an after-school reading program or with adults in a late afternoon arts and literature program. The discussions in our classroom and at Edgewood will be organized as learning circles in which each participant’s voice and experience is valued. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    RCAH292B Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Diane Newman)

    Arts Now!

    This course is designed to provide students with a current perspective and understanding of the nature of non-profit arts organizations and cultural service-providers. Individual students will be paired with a local arts organization, exposed to the organization’s day-to-day operations, and gain useful job skills and connections to professionals in the field by being a part of the arts organization/service workforce. Deeper investigations include the intricacies of organizational structure including mission statement, governance, budget and funding sources. The issues of political climate, trends in charitable giving, and arts advocacy will further student understanding of the complex influences affecting the survival of these important community non-profits and the benefits they provide. Through involvement with his/her Arts Community Partner, the student will gain insights into the intense commitment integral to managing a community arts organization. Students will closely examine the importance of the arts in multiple facets of human life – in education, community, and beyond. And, students will gain a personal perspective on the possible direction and future of the arts in the U.S. during the coming decade, as well as his/her own potential to make a difference in that outcome.

     

    Section 002 (Tama Hamilton-Wray)

    Narrative Portraits

    In Spring 2013, the Art@Work project was unveiled at Peckham Industries of Lansing. This project represents a 3-year collaboration between RCAH and Peckham where RCAH students have engaged with Peckham team members, a diverse population of refugees and people with mental or physical disabilities, to produce the art portraits of the 40 x 200 feet public art installation. This civic engagement course “Narrative Portraits” seeks to build on the Art@Work project through an exploration of how stories empower us to improve our lives at home, school, work and in our communities. Students will collaboratively create narrative portraits in written and spoken word with Peckham team members. Each Tuesday’s class will be dedicated to developing engagement and collaborative writing skills, in addition to planning for and reflecting on the engagement process. While Thursday’s class will be dedicated to RCAH students building narrative portraits beside their Peckham partners.

     

    RCAH310 Childhood and Society

    Section 001 (Estrella Torrez)

    Engaging with Children and Young People

    The RCAH curriculum underscores the importance of reciprocal education, which encourages students to engage in the co-production of knowledge with community partners.  In doing so, many students are interested in working with children and youth. This course prepares students to work with children from diverse communities in the co-production of knowledge. Prior to working with communities, however, RCAH students must consider the complex societal issues directly impacting the lives of their young collaborators. Accordingly, this course will focus on ways to engage children, the impacts of applying terms such as ‘at-risk’ to communities, and how to maintain a symbiotic and collaborative relationship. Finally, we will discuss possible assessment models to evaluate community impact.

     

    RCAH320 Art and Public Life

    Section 001 (Carolyn Loeb)

    The Right to the City: Who Shapes Urban Space?

    How are the diverse spaces in cities – for housing, for commerce, for civic functions, for recreation, etc. – shaped by class, race/ethnic, and gender relations? How do the forms that urban space takes in turn construct these relations and confirm or break down concepts of difference? This course draws on writings by architectural historians, landscape historians, art historians, designers, anthropologists, geographers, urban historians, and scholars of ethnic studies, cultural studies, and African-American studies to look at these questions. The urban touchstones for the course are Lansing and Detroit, but readings and discussions will range widely over cities throughout the US and across the globe.

    Topics will include:

    • Theories of spatial dynamics in relation to difference
    • Mapping urban relationships
    • Constructions of difference: suburbs, ghettos, barrios, gated communities
    • The roles of public policy and private developers
    • Public space
    • Streets, yards, gardens, parks
    • Environmental racism and environmental justice
    • The role of artists: alternatives spaces, gentrification, street art
    • The impact of globalization

     

    The semester’s work will culminate in projects that take one city or town as a case study through which to examine patterns of spatial relations historically and materially through the lenses developed in the course. Research results will be presented in visual/graphic form, supported by texts. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 002 (Guillermo Delgado)

    Connect your Creativity with Activism

    In this course, we’ll explore the role and define the responsibilities of the engaged artist. We’ll learn from the creation of our own projects and the pedagogies of established community arts projects and organizations in the Greater Lansing area. Let the words of Lilla Watson, Australian Aboriginal Elder and art activist guide you through this course and work: “If you've come here to help me, you're wasting your time. But if you've come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

     

    RCAH380 Third Year Tutorial

    Section 001 (John Aerni-Flessner)

    Decolonization

    What was colonialism? What does it mean to ‘decolonize?’ Was this an event or a process? Is it complete today, or is it an ongoing goal? Must we engage with the colonial frame, or should colonial periods be subsumed within greater narratives of history? This class will examine 20th century processes of decolonization through lenses of history, literature, and art in the first part of the class, and engage in the creation of a scholarly work in the second part looking at an aspect of decolonization in a particular place or places.

     

    Section 002 (Lisa Biggs)

    Race, Gender, and Crime

    This course investigates the performance of crime and law enforcement in the late 20th century/early 21st century during era of mass incarceration.  It has a particular focus on U.S. responses to criminally offensive behavior under the frameworks of the War on Poverty, War on Drugs, and the War on Terror.  Narratives by people confined in U.S. prisons, jails, immigration facilities, military and juvenile detention centers anchor our studies, providing insights not only into who and what has been criminalized, but how performance has been employed as a means to enact justice, provide security, and control offenders. Students will conduct independent research on a topic of their choosing related to the course material.

     

    RCAH390 Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Estrella Torrez)

    Reclaiming Language and Schools

    Many heritage language communities have endured colonization through practices of forced relocation, boarding schools, English-Only policies, or genocide in the pursuit of societal progress and economic stability. Individuals have countered oppression through assimilation or by hiding traditional sociolinguistic practices from dominant culture. Oftentimes, these acts of ‘survivance’ have left younger generations curious about their ancestors’ knowledge and buried knowledge systems. As communities continue to reclaim schools as spaces to teach younger generations ‘traditional’ ways, young people are creatively imagining practices that bridge traditions with new forms of cultural expression.

     

    Section 002 (India Plough)

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research is a general survey course of sociolinguistics and sociolinguistic research methodologies. Combining lecture and seminar formats, the course introduces students to language variation, pragmatics, and language socialization. The relationships between language and attitudes, identities, and social networks are also explored. Readings of studies on world languages focus on a critical examination of the relationship between sociolinguistic phenomena and research methodology as well as the extent to which verbal behavior varies across languages and cultures. In-class activities are used to explicate sociolinguistic concepts. Throughout the course, research validity is emphasized in preparation for the class project in which students work in groups to conduct an empirical sociolinguistic research study. This requires students to 1) formulate a meaningful research question; 2) identify sources of data to answer the question; 3) determine a suitable method of data collection; 4) collect, analyze, and interpret the data; and 5) report results. An Integrated Language Option may be available for this course.

     

    Section 003 (Austin Jackson)

    Black Talk: African American Language, Literacy, and Culture

    The African American community constitutes a distinct speech community, with its own organizational and sociolinguistic norms of interaction (Smitherman 1996).  African American Language (AAL, also called Ebonics or Black English) is an Africanized form of English forged in the crisis of U.S. slavery, racial segregation, and the Black struggle for freedom and equality.  In this course, we’ll explore the social, educational, and political implications of AAL in the 21st century.  Using the work of major scholars in sociolinguistics, literacy studies, and 1) examine AAL semantics, syntax, phonology, and morphology, 2) identify underlying historical and socio-economic forces responsible for shaping AAL, and 3) explore the impact of AAL within Black speech communities and U.S. and global popular culture.  

    We will examine language attitudes towards AAL, especially representations and misrepresentations of AAL within media and the Internet, and consider how such portrayals influence efforts to incorporate AAL within language and literacy instruction for Black children.  Additionally, we will give considerable attention to three major cases of U.S. language policy: Students’ Right to Their Own Language Resolution (1974), the King Ann Arbor “Black English” federal court case (1979), and the Oakland School District “Ebonics Decision" (1996-1997).  

    Assignments will include conducting linguistic and rhetorical analysis of AAL in literature, film, and popular culture (especially Rap music and Hip Hop culture).  Beyond the classroom, we will conduct participant-observations of AAL within predominately Black churches, campus student organizations, and other local African American speech communities.

     

    RCAH492 Senior Seminar

    Section 001 (Dylan Miner)

    Beyond Capitalism: Senior Seminar in Radical Theory

    Can a world outside or beyond capitalism exist?  If it could, what would it look like? Moreover, is this anti-capitalist option one we should even explore?  In this senior seminar, we will investigate various theorists, activists, movements, and artists as they articulate, to borrow a phrase from the Zapatistas, ‘another possible world’.  Using Prof. Miner’s expertise in Indigenous, Third World, anti-colonial, and anarchist movements, we will pay particular attention to the ways in which these movements have attempted to form ‘the structure of the new society within the shell of the old,’ to use the language of the IWW.   As in other RCAH courses, creative and artistic exploration will be central to our working through these questions.

     

    Section 002 (Scot Yoder)

    Professional Ethics in the Arts and Humanities

    This course will focus on what it means to be a morally responsible professional.  We will begin by looking at professional ethics generally, move to ethical issues that students have encountered in RCAH courses and experiences, and finally to ethical issues that arise in the professions that RCAH students have often pursued.  Students will develop final projects related to their anticipated career choices. 

     

  • 2012-13

    Fall 2012 Courses

    RCAH 111: Writing Transcultural Contexts

    Section 001 (Dave Sheridan)

    Transculturation in Michigan 

    Discussions of "transculturation" often focus on interactions between cultural groups that are distant from us in time and space — interactions between groups that existed long ago and far away.  This class explores the way transculturation happens right here in Michigan. We'll examine stories set in Detroit, Benton Harbor, the Upper Peninsula, and other Michigan locales. These stories will help launch conversations about the challenges that emerge when diverse cultural groups come into contact.  As a class, we will write about/against/in-response-to these narratives, producing a wide range of compositions, from analytical essays to multimedia projects.

    Section 002 (Eric Aronoff)

    Telling Stories: Composing Knowledges in Transcultural Contexts

    We will focus on the connection between culture and “storytelling,” broadly conceived. That is, we will examine the ways in which culture shapes the ways we perceive the world around us, and how we organize those perceptions into oral and written narratives – be they what we conventionally would call “stories” like personal narratives, myths or novels, or other genres like scientific, academic or philosophical writing, each with their own generic rules for the “stories” they tell. Drawing primarily on short stories, novels and film, we will be particularly interested in what happens when different “cultures,” or ways of knowing and writing, collide, clash or mix, in a process we will call “transculturation.”

    Section 003 (Terese Monberg)

    Travel, Migration, & Exile

    This course explores competing definitions of “travel writing” by juxtaposing transcultural narratives of tourism with narratives of exile. Readings and discussion will focus on the different reasons people are prompted to travel, allowing us to examine transcultural connections between home and travel, migration and exile, local and global communities, place and memory. Writing projects will ask students to apply concepts to their own experiences and to parallel cases of tourism or exile. This course promises to challenge your notions of both “travel” and “writing.” Students will have numerous

    opportunities to conceive, draft, revise, and complete writing projects tailored to various audiences.

    Section 004 (Tama Hamilton-Wray)

    Romancing the Motherland

    In this course, we will explore the concept of diaspora, specifically as it applies to people of African descent, but also as it applies to other diasporas, ie. Chinese, Irish, Indian and Jewish. We will explore how diasporas are formed and transform. In addition, through various genres of writing we will look at how diaspora is perceived, lived, and researched.

    Section 005 (Austin Jackson)

    Race, Rhetoric, and the Arts of Resistance

    We will explore the role of language and culture within popular struggles for racial, social, and economic justice. Our task this semester is three-fold: we will 1) explore the intersecting rhetorics of race, class, and gender in society; 2) examine the ways in which writing has been used as a tool of resistance, protest, and social transformation; and 3) experiment with various modes of argumentation (composing academic essays, dialogic journal writing, individual and group presentations, poetry, and visual art), writing in various genres or styles for multiple audiences and different rhetorical situations.

     

    RCAH 192: First-Year Seminar (D)

    Section 001 (Ann White)

    Introduction to Performance Theory and Analysis 

    In this course, students will engage with a variety of dramatic and performance styles, genres, and venues to enhance their understanding of the dynamics of mode, content, embodiment, space/place, and spectatorship. In addition to more conventional materials such as published plays and documented performances, students will attend a series of diverse theatrical, cultural and everyday performance events. These may include plays, performance art, parades, interactive installations, food events, festivals, and sporting events.

    Section 002 (Dylan Miner)

    Art and Activism

    For decades, artists and activists have used their own artistic practice to spark active social transformation.  In this seminar, students will look at the specter of systematic change during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with a concentration on contemporary artistic practices.  Focusing on the ways that artists work in evocative and agitational ways, this seminar will give students introductory access to the radical world of activist art. By focusing on collaborative practices, the seminar will move away from the naïve notion that the artist is an independent and solitary being.  Foregrounded in avant-garde and activist practices throughout the world, the seminar will pay particular attention on collectives/collaborations throughout the greater Midwest. Throughut the semester, we will Skype in artists from throughout North America and the world.

    Section 003 (Chris Scales)

    The Anthropology of Music

    Students of this class will learn about the basic musical elements of several musical traditions from around the world. Emphasis will be on developing listening skills for understanding different musical systems as well as studying the unique and specific sociocultural contexts of each musical tradition. Students will also be introduced to a number of theoretical models employed by anthropologists and ethnomusicologists in understanding these various musical traditions. In surveying various musical traditions we will learn not only where a particular music comes from, but we will also try to ask WHY a particular music sounds as it does. In doing so we approach music making as a specific behavior grounded cultural practice, seeking to uncover and explain the possible links between musical aesthetics (artistic practice) and social ethics (cultural practice).

    Section 004 (Deidre Dawson)

    The History and Practice of Letter-Writing from Cicero to Cyberspace

    Personal communication through written symbols has been around nearly as long as writing itself. From the ancient world up until today, there have been manuals to advise people about the proper etiquette of written communication, and the rhetorical strategies needed to convey a message effectively. The protocol and artistry of letter-writing convey much about the cultural, historical and social context of a given era.

    In this course we will study samples of letters, letter-writing manuals and epistolary novels from different time periods, and discuss what they reveal about the values and mores of their time. We will explore how writing tools and technology have influenced personal communication, and discuss the various facets of digital correspondence as compared to printed or handwritten correspondence. The class will visit the Special Collections of the library and the University Archives, and students will have the opportunity to work on a project involving actual correspondences.

    We will also spend a portion of each class period writing letters!

    Section 005 (Scot Yoder)

    Private Faith and Public Life 

    In the U.S. we seem to have a tenuous relationship with religion. On the one hand, officially the U.S. is a “secular” nation with no state religion and a constitution that guarantees the separation of church and state. On the other hand, in many ways we are a deeply religious nation. Surveys consistently suggest that a majority of citizens believe in God and religious institutions play important roles at the local and national level. We try to manage this tension by distinguishing between the public and private spheres of life, relegating religion to the latter, but this solution has been only partially successful as debates about matters such as the teaching intelligent design in public schools and public support for faith-based social services demonstrate.

    The goal of this course is to explore the intersection of religious belief and public life.   We will explore the following sorts of questions: What does it mean to have a “secular” society?  How do our religious beliefs shape how we respond to public issues? How should they? Does religious faith improve or harm our public lives? How can we talk constructively about religion?

     

    RCAH 201: Transcultural Relations

    Section 001 (Patti Rogers)

    Transcultural Relations as Seen through the Narrative

    RCAH 201 asks us to investigate the concept of transcultural relations, which represents a very broad topic in itself and which rests on a number of very broad premises.  For example, at its most basic, the notion of transcultural relations suggests contact (whether hostile or friendly) between societies or peoples that view themselves as separate or distinct.

    Thus, we could begin a study of transcultural relations by asking what separates these societies (or cultures)?  Are they really different from one another? If so, how? And, how might distinct societies influence one another through contact?  Clearly this is an incomplete list of very broad questions.

    In order to answer such questions, we could begin by describing and defining individual cultures.  Most societies do this continually and unthinkingly. Often a given society can see itself as distinct and separate, because it views other peoples as outsiders and/or different -- they speak unfamiliar languages, practice strange customs, hold exotic beliefs.  In short, they are the other, they are them not us. In the act of defining the "cultural other," a society begins to describe itself by identifying what it is not, in other words it defines itself against its cultural other(s). As such, the cultural other can play a significant and intimate role in the host society that it comes into contact with.

    In order to investigate these concepts and questions, we will use another very broad subject matter, namely the "narrative."  Most societies make sense of their worlds through narratives of one form or another. While particular types of narratives might be common across cultures, the actual stories they relate vary greatly from one society to the next.  Therefore, if we can understand the narratives that a given society tells itself, that it particularly favors or likes, possibly we can begin to define and describe that culture, and why it sees itself as distinct and different from its cultural other.  In this course we will begin with a study of the "narrative" itself; then we will look at both specific narrative genres (or types) and actual narratives.

    Section 002 (Dylan Miner)

    This course will attempt to decipher world history by investigating the similarities, differences, disjunctures, and ruptures between and amongst various peoples across multiple temporal zones.  Our focus will be on the diverse societies in the Western hemisphere (commonly known as the Americas), particularly focusing on cultural studies and the political implications of human cultural practices.  Although not the primary focus, we will pay attention to food as a marker of transculturation.

    Section 003 (Steve Esquith)

    Encountering the Other through Transcultural Change

    We live at a time when different cultures are mixing, resisting, and absorbing each other rapidly. It is a process that has occurred in different ways, at different times, and in different places.  However, as Fernando Ortiz has noted, four basic questions tend to recur. 

    What happens when cultures and peoples conflict?

    How have art and culture defined the 'known world' and mediated these conflicts?

    Are all cultures the same in value from an ethical point of view, or are there higher and lower cultures?

    What can we learn about the strengths and weaknesses of our own culture(s) through the study of other cultures and encounters with other cultures?

    This section of RCAH 201 is about these four recurring questions, and we will use three different moments in the process of transcultural change through the ages to explore them. We will move from contemporary India in an age of globalization, back to ancient Greece and the rise of the Persian empire, and then forward again to the world of Renaissance Venice, a hub of Mediterranean trade.  In these very different contexts, our eyes will be on the same four questions in order to discuss the ways in which cultures encounter one another and change.

    To discuss these four questions in the context of contemporary India, we will study the book that all MSU entering students are reading, Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.  Our guide through the ancient world will be Herodotus's History of the Persian Wars and its sequel Travels with Herodotus by the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski. Finally, in conjunction with the annual Stratford Shakespeare Festival Theatre workshop in the RCAH, we will read The Merchant of Venice and view the 2004 Michael Radford film adaptation of this play.

    Section 004 (Joanna Bosse)

    Caribbean Music and the Sound of Transculturation

    It has been said that the Caribbean is the cradle of globalization.  If this is the case, then Caribbean music provides a sonic testimony to the movement of peoples, goods, and communities that began in the colonial era and continues to this day.  Drawing upon traditions from the Spanish-, French-, and English-speaking Caribbean, students will contextualize contemporary musical performance within larger Caribbean social life as well as to the historical processes of colonization and globalization.

    Through performance of music and dance, analytical listening exercises, and engagement with important writings (including contemporary journalism and scholarly works), students will learn about the important theoretical models for understanding expressive culture and develop their skills for musical understanding.  One need not have formal training in music to succeed in this course. Those who do have musical training will find their skills challenged in new and exciting ways.

    Section 005 (Candace Keller)

    Art and Cultural Exchange among Africa, Europe, and the Americas

    This course invites students to consider the significance of transculturation in the development of our collective histories, world relations, and daily lives. Although this primary focus remains the same, each section of the course approaches the topic from unique perspectives, studying specific artistic creations, historical events, and geographical locations as case studies. Our class centers on artistic and cultural exchange among Africa, Europe, and the Americas via trade, diplomacy, war, and human migration, affecting the cultural productions, practices, and belief systems of each continent. Expedited by recent technological advances in telecommunications and transportation, such interactions raise critical questions:

    What are the social and environmental repercussions of such exchanges?

    How have those impacted and been represented in visual arts?

    What is the role of individuals, namely artists and their patrons, in these processes?

    What significance do these past and present relations hold for our collective futures?

    To help us think about these issues and become more aware of our interdependent relationship with Africa today, we will consider key moments in transcultural encounters from pre-colonial times to the present, including early forms of tourist art production, the spread of Islam and Christianity, and the proliferation of photography on the continent; connections between the spiritual beliefs and artworks in Africa and those, such as Vodun and Rastafarianism, in the Americas and Caribbean. Furthermore, we will explore the powerful influence that African art has had on European modernism and international contemporary art. As we consider the incorporation of African material culture within U.S. popular culture, such as boutique and department store fashions, cinematic productions, such as Star Wars, television programs, and coffee shops, we will also appreciate the affecting power that Hollywood and the American music industry has held in Africa and around the world. Finally, through self-reflection, we will begin to conceptualize our own position within this great transnational exchange, more commonly termed “globalization.”

    RCAH 281: Career Strategies

    Section 001 (Niki Rudolph)

    This course will help you to think through who you are and how that relates to what you’ll be doing when you graduate from the RCAH.  You’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses and how your passions can translate into careers. You’ll job shadow, hear from arts and humanities graduates, and gain a better understanding about writing a resume, interviewing and articulating the RCAH degree to potential graduate schools, employers and partners. After completing this course, you will more fully understand the value and marketability of a Liberal Arts degree.

    RCAH 291 Creative Workshops

    Section 001 (Mark Sullivan)

    Digital Photography - Techniques, History, and Practice 

    This workshop will focus on creating, viewing and responding to photographic works, from the present and the past, by the members and by others.  We will look at a selection of writings about photography, and will look at a wide range of techniques, styles, and orientations toward photography. No previous experience will be assumed, but previous experience, even a great deal, will be welcomed. It would be highly desirable to have a DSL camera, but if that is not possible, we can make arrangements for members to get access to one.  Each student will create a portfolio of works as part of the class, and will learn to use basic image editing software and post-processing software.

    Section 002 (Guillermo Delgado)

    Community Arts: Art at Work Project

    “Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous.” - Bill Moyers.  This creative workshop will engage in the development of a major public art installation at Peckham, Inc. on Lansing’s northwest side. Students will explore the art-making processes required to collaborate with Peckham’s vocational rehabilitation community and other RCAH students, faculty and visiting artists in the co-creation of a work of art on a very large 40’X200’ concrete wall.  Students will lead by example and mentor Peckham team members (factory workers) to contribute to the ‘Art at Work’ project. All skill levels in art welcome, but taking creative risks and having good collaboration skills are essential to succeed in this class. This is a living project that will be constantly evolving, full of problem-solving opportunities and the participation of all kinds of folks including refugees and people with physical and mental disabilities. Themes in the project will be identity, storytelling, creativity, arts-infused learning, public art, and community. Students will spend the first session of the week refining their creative and collaborative skills in the RCAH art studio and the second session of the week collaborating and creating art with Peckham team members in the organization’s cafeteria and art studio.

    Section 003 (Carolyn Loeb)

    The Worlds of Puppetry 

    Human surrogates or independent (and often naughty!) spirits? Puppets may be both. This class is about the multiplicity of forms, identities, and meanings that puppets embody. We’ll look at examples from many different cultures. We’ll explore the making of puppets and the stories they tell, and we’ll create our own.

    Two special events are scheduled as part of this course: A trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts to attend a performance of Rapunzel, with life-size puppets, by the Kansas City-based Paul Mesner Puppet Company; following that, Mesner will visit the RCAH for a week to work with us.

    We’ll also see the touring stage production of War Horse at MSU’s Wharton Center. A founder of the Handspring Puppet Company, which created the play’s stupendous puppets, will visit to tell us about her world of puppets. And we may meet one of the smaller animals from the production, too!

    Section 004 (Anita Skeen/Laura Delind)

    Hearing Voices: The Art and Application of Story and Storytelling

    This creative workshop is designed to explore the nature and the value of story as 1) a form of human expression, 2) an artistic tradition, and 3) a tool for neighborhood development. We will focus specifically on Urbandale, an economically-challenged neighborhood on Lansing’s Eastside. Students will work from interviews with Urbandale residents, past and present.  Interviews, compiled by students in DeLind’s RCAH 292A class, SS’12, will record the history of this neighborhood as well as the memories and experiences of many of its inhabitants. In the workshop we will re-story vacant lots, give voice to people who have been silent and allow residents and non-residents alike to “see” Urbandale as a unique and storied place.

    The workshop will require that students learn to tell their own stories as well as how to listen to, extract meaning from, and re-present the stories of others. We will study such forms as the dramatic monologue, the ten-minute play, the poem cycle, and the collage as ways of revealing character, voice, dramatic tension, time and place.   The final project, in collaboration with Urbandale residents, will be the creation and performance of a public piece (a play or dramatic reading) that honors the storytellers and the tradition of storytelling. 

    In the 6 weeks of January and early February, students will work to bring the text to the stage.  Parts will be cast, 10 rehearsals will be held, a stage will be constructed, and preparations will be made for 2 performances of the material, one in the RCAH Theater on February 1st and the other in the Eastside community on February 8th.  The performances will be professionally videotaped and distributed to Urbandale residents, arts organizations, and community partners throughout the state.

    If you are signing up for RCAH 291 (section 004) in the fall with Professor Skeen and Professor Delind, please note that you will also sign up for a one-credit independent study in the spring.

    (More information on the spring project will be forthcoming.)

     

    RCAH 292A Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Vincent Delgado)

    This proseminar on engagement will use hands-on learning to motivate, excite, inspire and sensitize students to deeper reflection and civic engagement activities in the college.Through discussions on the nature of civic engagement, students will engage in discovery of their own community as well as new communities across campus and mid-Michigan.  Specifically, we’ll be working with communities – from youth groups to refugee groups to artist hangouts – on the eastside of Lansing to explore sense of place through the sharing of stories that capture the identity of the region’s backbone: Michigan Avenue.

    These stories will be archived and disseminated through “The Ave”, a new project that combines narrative, democratic facilitation, wayfinding and technology to turn Greater Lansing’s Michigan/Grand River Avenue Corridor into a citizen-built celebration of local creativity and identity. The Ave is transforming the region’s main thoroughfare into a new form of wayfinding, storytelling and place-making using large, attractive signage, unique “Quick Response” (QR) codes, voice over internet protocol technology, mobile applications and the world wide web.

    This activity will provide focus for our work. But we’ll add in texts, multimedia resources and additional hands-on activities to prepare us for higher-level thinking and involvement in engagement course work and community-based activism.

    Section 002 (Steve Esquith)

    This introduction to civic engagement in the RCAH has three components.  First, we will read the work of three important historical figures who have shaped our understanding of civic engagement as an integral part of education.  We will read Jane Addams' famous memoir, Twenty Years at Hull House, written in the early 20th century about her efforts to create a distinctive settlement house program in a working class immigrant neighborhood in Chicago that would educate and empower the local residents.  Then, we will read another memoir, The Long Haul by Myles Horton, which chronicles the creation of the Highlander Folk School in rural Tennessee, a crucial educational center for union organizers and civil rights activists in the early and middle part of the 20th century.  Then, we will read from the work of Paulo Freire, the famous Brazilian educator whose book Pedagogy of the Oppressed has had such an important impact on schooling in poor countries and among educators throughout the world.

    Second, we will review the model of civic engagement that the RCAH has adopted in light of these three classic texts.  The RCAH model of engagement stresses the importance of critical self-reflection, practical engagement with communities other than our own, an active commitment to social justice, and passionate enjoyment and friendship-building through engagement.   What does the model borrow from these classic texts? In what ways does it diverge from them or build upon them? What does research tell us about civic engagement that is structured in this way? Finally, we will learn firsthand something about several of the RCAH community partners where education and engagement intersect.  These will include local public school programs and after-school community centers in the Greater Lansing area.

    Section 003 (Vincent Delgado)

    This proseminar on engagement will use hands-on learning to motivate, excite, inspire and sensitize students to deeper reflection and civic engagement activities in the college. Through discussions on the nature of civic engagement, students will engage in discovery of their own community as well as new communities across campus and mid-Michigan. Specifically, we’ll be working with communities – from youth groups to refugee groups to artist hangouts – on the eastside of Lansing to explore sense of place through the sharing of stories that capture the identity of the region’s backbone: Michigan Avenue. These stories will be archived and disseminated through “The Ave”, a new project that combines narrative, democratic facilitation, wayfinding and technology to turn Greater Lansing’s Michigan/Grand River Avenue Corridor into a citizen-built celebration of local creativity and identity. The Ave is transforming the region’s main thoroughfare into a new form of wayfinding, storytelling and place-making using large, attractive signage, unique “Quick Response” (QR) codes, voice over internet protocol technology, mobile applications and the world wide web. This activity will provide focus for our work. But we’ll add in texts, multimedia resources and additional hands-on activities to prepare us for higher-level thinking and involvement in engagement course work and community-based activism.

     

    RCAH 292B Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Guillermo Delgado)

    Engage in Community through Art: Art at Work Project 

    Aristotle once said, "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them."  For this engagement and reflection course, students will create and participate in creative partnerships with their team members (factory workers) at Peckham. This experiential project will include the exploration of art making, identity, storytelling, creativity, arts-infused learning, public art, and community.  All skill levels in art welcome, but being quick on your feet and having trouble-shooting skills are essential to succeed in this class. This is a living project that will be constantly evolving, full of problem-solving opportunities and the participation of all kinds of folks including refugees and people with physical and mental disabilities. The goal is to lead by example and mentor team members to contribute to a major public art installation on a large 40’X200’ concrete wall at Peckham, Inc. on Lansing’s northwest side.  A strong emphasis will be placed on building a creative and supportive learning space for Peckham team members. Students will spend the first session of the week refining their creative and collaborative skills in the RCAH art studio and the second session of the week collaborating and creating art with Peckham team members in the organization’s cafeteria and art studio.

    Section 002 (Terese Monberg)

    Placemaking: Sustaining Stories and the Lansing Sense of Place Project

    According to the Project for Public Spaces, placemaking “involves looking at, listening to, and asking questions of the people who live, work and play in a particular space, to discover their needs and aspirations. By capitalizing on a community’s assets and visions, placemaking’s ultimate goal is to create “good public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being.” Students in this course will work with local residents to collect stories of their experiences, aspirations, and visions of Lansing. These stories will become part of the City of Lansing Sense of Place Project (ArtsWay/The Ave), an ongoing RCAH collaboration committed to making Lansing a place that promotes health, happiness, and well being for all residents of Lansing. Working collaboratively with local communities through a dialogue-based process, students in this course will continue to build the stories and public installations of “The Ave.”

    Section 003 (Patti Rogers)

    "It's Great to Be a Girl!" 

    This course contains both a civic engagement component that takes place in the community and an academic component in the classroom. The class will partner with Cumberland Elementary School in Lansing to run an after-school program based on the initiative "It's Great to Be a Girl" (IGBG).  This civic engagement activity involves working with pre-adolescent (fifth-grade) girls to help build and foster self-esteem at a critical moment in their development. Topics and activities will focus on issues such as body image, media, friendships, bullying, and career goals, among others.

    In the classroom, undergraduates will read and discuss scholarly articles centering on gender.  Many of the materials will delve into the same issues raised by our themes and topics at Cumberland; issues that confront all females (girls and women) in American society.  Through work with pre-adolescent girls as well as the academic readings and discussions, this class will help undergraduates understand their own experience in relation to society as demonstrated through gender roles and stereotypes.

     

    RCAH 310: Childhood and Society

    Section 001 (Estrella Torrez)

    The Struggle for Education 

    “Education is, at its essence, learning about life through participation and relationship in community, including not only people, but plants, animals, and the whole of Nature.” Greg Cajete

    In this course we will discuss the various points in which marginalized communities have struggled to identify and affirm knowledge on their own terms. We will specifically examine how Indigenous communities, urban and rural, bridge their knowledge systems with colonial schooling. While primarily focused on the Americas, this course will begin with the Maori’s Kōhanga reo (language nests) as a pivotal educational model for Indigenous peoples.

     

    RCAH 330: Topics in Nature and Culture

    Section 001 (Eric Aronoff)

    Natural Artifacts/Artifacts of Nature 

    In this class we will focus on American traditions of thinking about nature, from 18th  Century to the present, as they are expressed in a variety of artistic media, especially literature, landscape painting and photography, and film.  We will ask: what do we mean when we use the term “nature”? What is “wilderness”? What is “a garden,” and what values do they embody? How do we represent “animals”?  These terms construct, implicitly or explicitly, our ideas of “the human,” and the proper relation between the human and the non-human world? How does this relation in turn produce ideas of knowledge, technology and “art”?

    Section 002 (Scot Yoder)

    The Ethics of Being and Becoming Human  

    In this course we will draw upon material from philosophy, literature, art, and history to explore multiple versions of the questions, “What does it mean to be human?”  Is there such a thing as a fixed human nature or is it something malleable that is in flux? How is technology affecting how we think about human nature? Are there moral limits to how we can create and enhance humans, and if so, what are they? The goal of the course is to explore such questions.

     

    RCAH 380 Tutorial

    Section 001 (Scot Yoder)

    Religion without God? -- Topics in Religious Naturalism 

    “Religious naturalism” is a term that emerged in the 1980s from a wide ranging conversation between theologians, scientists, and philosophers of religion. Though it is an umbrella term used to cover a range of positions, the intellectual terrain included in religious naturalism is roughly defined by two shared commitments. The first is a commitment to naturalism, to the premise that we should look to the natural world, rather than some supernatural realm to explain and give meaning to our experience. The second is the claim that this commitment to naturalism does not preclude religion, that there can be authentic religious responses to the world that do not depend on the existence of a supernatural realm. We will spend the first part of the course reading and discussing a common set of materials. Out of these discussions students will develop their own research projects.

    Section 002 (Patti Rogers)

    Gender and Western Society     

    The Tutorial offers students a small-group research experience.  This section of RCAH 380 adopts gender in western society culture and history as its theme. In the process of examining this very broad theme, the course will also ask students to experiment with and practice various research techniques and strategies. Activities will center on research components such as reading and analyzing scholarly works, formulating a research question, working with evidence (primary and secondary),research aids, and note-taking, among others. During the term, students will devise their own individualized research program or design that can be applied to upper-level courses across the university.  As part of this process, students will develop a major research project during the term.

    Section 003 (Deidre Dawson)

    Topics in the Contemporary Francophone World 

    Using web resources, magazines, films, and other contemporary media, we will discuss the most current critical issues in the Francophone world. Emphasis will be on acquiring new vocabulary through reading, and on oral communication. Students will research a specific topic and present it in French for their final project. This tutorial will be conducted in French. A minimum of one year of French study is required. 

     

    RCAH 390 Language and Culture (D)

    Section 002 (Austin Jackson)

    Black Talk: African American Language, Literacy, And Culture

    African American Language (AAL, also called Ebonics or Black English) is an Africanized form of English forged in the crisis of U.S. slavery, racial segregation, and the Black struggle for freedom and equality. In this course, we will 1) examine AAL semantics, syntax, phonology, and morphology, 2) identify underlying historical and socio-economic forces responsible for shaping AAL, and 3) explore the impact of AAL within Black speech communities and U.S. and global popular culture. 

    Section 003 (India Plough)

    Methods of Sociolinguistic Research 

    This course introduces students to the research process – from question formulation to data collection, interpretation and reporting results. The majority of the course focuses on the primary methods of sociolinguistic research using examples from seminal studies conducted on world languages.  Quantitative and qualitative approaches are covered. Specific topics include ethnographic observation, designing and conducting interviews, using questionnaires, and eliciting natural speech. Exercises in research design, data sampling techniques, data analysis, and data interpretation will be completed early in the semester as preparation for the final project in which students will design, conduct, and report on a sociolinguistic research project.

     

    RCAH 395 Special Topic - Arts & Humanities

    Section 001 (Tama Hamilton-Wray)

    Global African Cinema and the Nation

    This course focuses on the cinemas of global Africa, that is African countries and countries in the African Diaspora. These cinemas demonstrate national cinemas sanctioned and funded by the ruling power as well as independent cinemas where marginalized populations create alternative histories. This course also looks at the role of the historical relationships between the Diaspora and Africa and film production. Historical moments and figures in the post-colonial world of Africa and the Caribbean and the post industrial world of the West as represented in global African cinema help to illustrate the nature of film as an active participant in the making of history. In addition, this course explores the relation of film and cinema to nationalism, nation building, and national identity construction.

    RCAH 492 Senior Seminar (W)

    Section 001 (Chris Scales)

    Cultural and Intellectual Property: Creativity, Ethics, and the Law 

    In this course we will examine the legal, ethical, and cultural stakes related to current international conversations about intellectual property and cultural property and how these conversations will affect what Lawrence Lessig has called the “nature and future of creativity.”  In studying these issues we will ask such basic questions as: What does it mean to “own” a creative work? What is the difference between individual ownership and cultural ownership? How is copyright law being established and how is it affecting artistic creativity? Is there an inherent value for society in a “cultural commons,” and if so, how do we balance the ownership “rights” of individuals with those of larger communities? These conversations are vital and immediate for RCAH students who are planning careers within the North American “creative economy.”  As such, the most important outcome of this course will be the development of some very real and tangible possible policy recommendations, research papers, or creative works that confront these issues in meaningful and socially helpful ways.

     

     

    Spring 2013 Courses

    RCAH 112: Writing Research Technologies

    Section 001 (Eric Aronoff)

    “Our America:” Cultures of American Modernism, 1916-1930

    This section will examine debates over “American” culture, race, national identity and art in the modernist period (roughly 1916-1930). With particular attention to the arts (modernist poetry, literature, jazz and other media), we will examine the ways in which, in the context of rising consumer culture, labor unrest, rapid immigration and racial violence, figures from a wide variety of disciplines – anthropologists, social scientists, artists and critics – sought to redefine “American culture,” by redefining ideas like “culture,” “race,” “nation” and art and the relation between them. Looking at various literary and historical documents, we will ask: how do these texts imagine the relationship between “race,” “nation,” and “culture”? How do these constructions engage debates over immigration, assimilation and pluralism? What is the relationship between racial and /or cultural identity and political identity (or citizenship)? What is the relationship between “culture,” art, and new modes technologies? Is industrialism and its methods the end of “culture” as “high art,” or the beginning of a new kind of “culture”? How did new forms of artistic expression (broadly speaking, “modernist” art) respond to, challenge, or incorporate these new social conditions? We will then think about how these modernist debates reverberate in contemporary, 21st Century contexts, in questions of transnational migration, national identity, cultural “ownership” and authenticity, etc. The breadth of these questions will allow for a wide variety of approaches and specific interest: like all sections of 112, we will be able to pursue the burning questions we raise by developing our skills as researchers and writers.

    Section 002 (Dave Sheridan)

    The Production of Culture 

    This class focuses on the ways that the analytical and creative work of the arts and humanities can help to solve real-world problems.  The premises of this course are: (1) that forms of cultural expression (such as stories, videos, performances, music, etc.) can be powerful tools of social change; and (2) that all of us are potentially producers of these forms.  Accordingly, students will begin by identifying a cultural problem — something they would like to see changed in the world. They will analyze the way the problem is embodied in popular culture (e.g., movies, music, websites). Finally, they will devise their own "cultural interventions": movies, music, websites, and other compositions aimed at addressing the cultural problem in question.

    Section 003 (Austin Jackson)

    Black Popular Culture and Social Movements

    This section explores the function of culture in maintaining or resisting unjust power relations in society. As positionality is always an important part of critical inquiry, our work this semester will begin with self-reflection and exploration. We will consider how subjective knowledge or personal experiences impact the ways that individuals and groups “read” or interpret race, class, and difference in society. We will then turn to critical social theory (especially Marxism, Black Feminism, and Critical Race Theory) for close readings of various socio-cultural “texts” -- from civil rights/Black power aesthetics to Rap/Hip Hop polemics -- for insight into the ways that “the voices on the margins” resist forces of domination. From this perspective, we will construct critical research projects that consider popular culture and New Media technologies as important means of communal problem solving within contemporary movements for racial, social, and economic justice.

    Section 004 (Terese Monberg)

    The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Public Memory(s) and Social Change

    This course is based on the idea that memory plays an important role not only in everyday life but also in larger movements for (and sometimes against) social change. The stories we tell ourselves—the way we remember the past and envision a future—are not just stories but also modes of inquiry, social analysis, collective identity construction, and public intervention. To ground our discussion and research activities, we will focus on the public memory(s) of racial, social, and environmental justice movements in the U.S. After immersing ourselves in an ongoing scholarly conversation about public memory and social change, we will identify ways we can extend, contribute to, or intervene in these conversations through additional research. Research projects might be designed around the public memory of a social movement, a community, or a neighborhood and will include oral history interviewing as a direct method for collecting stories and public memory(s) on that topic. This class prepares students to both conduct traditional academic research and prepare argumentative papers and poster sessions based on that research. And because research is a highly collaborative activity, we will spend a significant amount of time in class discussing and responding to one another’s projects through various stages of the research process.

    Section 005 (Scot Yoder)

    Thinking about Animal Rights and Welfare 

    In this course we will use questions about animal rights and welfare to deepen our understanding of the practice of research and writing in the humanities.  Questions about animal rights and welfare are at the heart of many public and personal controversies, such as whether or not to eat meat, policies regarding land use and hunting, farming practices, the acceptability of zoos, and the use of animals in medical research.  We will focus on contributions from scholars in the humanities in order to increase our understanding of 1) what it means to do research in the humanities, 2) how to use writing as a means of inquiry, 3) how to evaluate and construct arguments, and 4) how to conduct and present a research project in the humanities.  Each student will produce a thesis-driven research paper on a relevant topic of their choice, a project utilizing an alternative format for presenting the results of their research, and a writing portfolio documenting both these final products and the processes used to produce them.

     

    RCAH 192: First-Year Seminar

    Section 001 (Carolyn Loeb)

    Women and Art

    Overlooked or downplayed for centuries, art by women is not only widely recognized and celebrated today, but it has had a strong impact on the themes, materials, and nature of art in general over the past four decades.  In this course, we’re looking at what contemporary women artists have created, what issues they have faced, and how they have affected the wider worlds of art and society.  

    Section 002 (Deidre Dawson)

    The History and Practice of Letter-Writing from Cicero to Cyberspace

    Personal communication through written symbols has been around nearly as long as writing itself. From the ancient world up until today, there have been manuals to advise people about the proper etiquette of written communication, and the rhetorical strategies needed to convey a message effectively. The protocol and artistry of letter-writing convey much about the cultural, historical and social context of a given era.

    In this course we will study samples of letters, letter-writing manuals and epistolary novels from different time periods, and discuss what they reveal about the values and mores of their time. We will explore how writing tools and technology have influenced personal communication, and discuss the various facets of digital correspondence as compared to printed or handwritten correspondence. The class will visit the Special Collections of the library and the University Archives, and students will have the opportunity to work on a project involving actual correspondences. We will also spend a portion of each class period writing letters!

    Section 003 (Joanna Bosse)

    Music and Politics in Zimbabwe

    Like a spoken language, music is a sign system in which the values and worldviews of a given cultural group are encoded.  The nature of musical systems, however, and their affective power are remarkably and delightfully different. Listening to and performing the music of a different cultural group fosters an awareness of unfamiliar worldviews in a way that simply talking about different cultural groups cannot.  To this end, students in this course will learn about the music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe, Africa through reading, writing, discussion, and learning to perform Shona mbira music. Combining these different modes of inquiry, we will connect contemporary issues to ancient traditions, and joyful parties with spirituality.

    Section 004 (Patti Rogers)

    Gender and Society

    In the modern era, Westerners (Europeans and Americans) in general have come to understand their cultures through such categories as nature, gender, and sexuality.  Although often viewed as inherent and unchangeable, all of these categories are actually culturally created; as such, they shift over time and across societies. This course takes an historical approach to investigate the ways in which these elements are intertwined.

    Beginning with the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment in early modern Europe, this course will examine the ways in which cultural assumptions about gender and sexuality have shaped scientific explanations of nature.  As the Europeans expanded and colonized other regions of the globe, they carried their cultural assumptions with them. Course readings will introduce and explore definitions of gender, sexuality, nature, and science. We will look at these topics with a focus on European and American societies, and examine the lasting influence of these notions in shaping both societies.

     

    RCAH 202: The Presence of the Past

    Section 001 (Patti Rogers)

    RCAH 202 asks us to explore the presence of the past.  In other words, how do we imagine or experience the past (mythical or real) in contemporary society, and how does that "past" influence us today? In an attempt to answer these questions, this course will focus on empires. In particular, the course explores the role of the Roman empire on Western culture and imagination. In the process of defining empires, the class will examine the image and legacy of the Roman empire in western culture. Why has the Roman empire fascinated the West for so long? For example, does the Roman empire hold out lessons for other prospective empires? Or, just as importantly, warnings for republics and/or democracies such as the United States? And, what is the actual influence (if any) of the Roman empire on western history, culture, and societies?  

    Section 002 (Steve Esquith)

    Mythic Heroes of War

    One way to grasp the presence of the past is through the dominant myths that we live by. What stories do we tell about the past and its development over time? How do these stories – whether they take the form of poetry, theater, film, novels, constitutions, or the everyday rituals of popular culture – structure and guide our lives?  In what sense are these stories present to us? In what sense are they myths we live by?

    The goal of the course is not to provide an exhaustive catalogue of myths, ancient or modern. Nor is it to search for a universal set of images or mythic archetypes. Our primary goal is to understand how certain myths about heroism have been carried forward, what other possible worlds they may open to us, and how they empower some people while disabling others. We will focus specifically on heroes of war, beginning with the Homeric heroes Achilles and Odysseus, and two Greek tragedies by Sophocles, Ajaxand Philoctetes.  We will examine how these mythic heroes have been brought forward in contemporary films such as the Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000); texts such as Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad, and Jonathan Shay's Achilles in Vietnam and Odysseus in America; and several poems by Seamus Heaney, Joseph Brodsky, C.P. Cavafy, Linda Pastan, and Louise Glück.   Students will write analytic essays, poems, short stories, and one act plays in preparation for their own final creative group projects.

    Section 003 (Tama Hamilton-Wray)

    Histories and Lore from the Cradle of Humankind

    This course introduces students to the notion of the presence of the past, and how it creates possibilities for an engaged ethical life now and in the future. This course will explore the folklore, written histories, and oral histories of Africa and the diaspora and look at their connections to the present in various cultural, political and social expressions. 

    Section 004 (Dylan Miner)

    The (Visual) Presence of the Past

    This course will focus on three distinct modes of ‘representing the past’: writing, comics, and documentary cinema.  While my section of RCAH 201 investigated the transcultural relations that emerged between and amongst people in the ‘contact zones,’ 202 will analyze the way that, as consumers and producers, we mediate this historical and sociological material.  By understanding this material critically, we may begin to construct a more democratic and egalitarian society. The first half will focus on understanding documentary films, while the second will concentrate on comics and graphic novels.

     

    RCAH 291 Creative Workshops

    Section 001 (Ann White)

    New Work for the Theatre/ Exploring Adaptation 

    In this workshop students will adapt non-dramatic literature (read: comics, trial transcripts, events in history, novels, poetry, etc.) into DRAMA/Plays/Scripts for theatrical performance. Each student will develop his/her own play based on a short work of literature. We will work together as an ensemble to develop each other's works through staged readings, exploratory writing and improvisation.  We will also learn playwriting techniques by studying dramaturgy, reading published plays adapted from various source materials, and attending theatre performances.

    Section 002 (David Sheridan)

    This class is intended to prepare students to be effective consultants in the RCAH Language and Media Center.  Accordingly, this class will take a project-based approach, asking students to develop print-, video-, and web-based media compositions.  We will explore fundamental principles of design as well as the technologies and interfaces that enable media work. We will also examine strategies for mentoring other media composers.  This course is for students who have substantial experience with one or more forms of media production. Students who wish to enroll in this section will be asked to fill out a short application in which they assess their media skills.

    Contact Professor Sheridan, sherid16@msu.edu, to fill out an application and receive an override.

    Section 003 (Chris Scales)

    The Music of Southern Appalachia 

    Appalachian communities have rich and deep musical traditions that have played a unique role in the musical, political, and social life of America.  In this class, students will engage with these traditions through the first hand participation in the music, performing “old-time” string band music, ballad singing and shape-note singing, and related genres.  We will also take some time to discuss some of the many social functions of this music in American public life, including its influence on other contemporary musical genres (bluegrass, country, folk and protest music), its connection with American leftist politics in the 20th-century, and its central role in the public imagination of “authentic” American identity.  Some background in music is recommended (but not required).

    Section 004 (Dylan Miner)

    Since the early nineteenth-century, posters and broadsides have a played an important role in communicating information in a public and accessible way.  With the advent of television and other digital technologies, the poster now fills a certain counter-hegemonic visual niche. Today, rock posters, street art, and political art all use the visual language of the poster in exciting and successful ways.  In this creative workshop, we will explore the history of the poster while learning the techniques to make posters. While we will primarily learn the screenprinting process (also known as silkscreen or serigraph), students will also have access to letterpress, etching, relief, and digital means of making posters.  We will hopefully create a screenprinting studio with local youth during the semester.

     

    RCAH 292A Engagement Proseminar

    Section 001 (Laura DeLind)

    This course is designed to introduce RCAH students to the concept and feel of civic engagement. It does this through a combination of readings, discussions, creative activities and direct involvement with programs and populations across the university and beyond.  The course encourages students to question, to listen deeply, to reflect and to collaborate with others to effect change (large and small). The ideas, experiences and skills gained through this course provide a foundation for future civic engagement work.

     

    RCAH 292B Engagement and Reflection

    Section 001 (Estrella Torrez)

    Learning From Community 

    Students will work with local Latino and Indigenous community members in alternative learning environments. Working with the area’s oldest Latino serving agency, Cristo Rey Community Center, RCAH students will assist adult Spanish speakers prepare for earning their high school equivalency certificate. We will also engage with urban Indigenous youth through arts based learning in partnership with Dr. Miner’s Creative Workshop. This course is ideal for individuals wanting to work in alternative educational environments, particularly those interested in engaging in urban education.

    Section 002 (Steve Esquith)

    Big Ideas for Little Kids 

    This civic engagement class will focus on how the "big ideas" that young elementary school students find interesting can be discussed with them in an exciting and fruitful way.  The "big ideas" include moral concepts like bravery, friendship, fairness, and justice as well as beauty, identity, and even the meaning of life. The goal of this class is not to convince these students that particular interpretations of these ideas and others like them are right (or more correct) than others.  It is to teach them how to discuss these "big ideas" respectfully, joyfully, and productively, that is, to introduce them to the game of philosophy.

    We will use Thomas Wartenberg's book, Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy Through Children's Literature, as our primary text.  Wartenberg's undergraduate students have taught these ideas to elementary school students for many years, and this book explains the underlying theory behind the project and also includes very practical advice on how to teach these young students.  The most distinctive thing about his approach is that he relies exclusively on children's picture books that young readers likely will encounter anyway in the course of their education. Many of them you may remember from your youth, for example: Frog and Toad Together, The Giving Tree, Morris the Moose, Emily's Art.  We will read, discuss, re-draw, and often reenact (sometimes with puppets we have made ourselves) these and other stories in small and large groups with these young community partners.  One day each week we will plan our lesson and the second meeting of the week we will work with the elementary school students using that lesson plan. RCAH students do not have to have a second major in Philosophy to be successful in this course.  They only have to enjoy reading children's literature and discussing the "big ideas" that seem to occur naturally to young students when they encounter this literature in the right setting.

    Section 003 (Candace Keller)

    Students in this class will engage Photovoice to facilitate communal dialogue and civic engagement. Over the semester, students will learn some compositional and technical aspects of photography as means of visual expression and narrative while studying the methods, history, and practices of Photovoice as a mode of civic engagement. They will also plan and implement a Photovoice project working with members of the MSU and Lansing communities.

    Section 004 (Donna Kaplowitz)

    Public Education and Social Change 

    Make a difference in the life of a child! This class combines hands-on opportunities to work directly with students in East Lansing Public Schools (grades K-12) and our class seminars.  This class dives into issues of childhood and focuses deeply on how socially constructed differences (race, social class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, linguistic and cultural backgrounds) privilege some learners and marginalize others.  This course is divided into two broad and interdisciplinary objectives. 

    The first objective is academic.  Prompted by a diverse body of literature, guest speakers, and class discussions, students will examine specific issues of childhood confronting 21st century educators.  Issues discussed will include: social class; race, racism and white privilege; gender and hetero-normativity; cultural competence; and bullying and conflict resolution. Students will also study the various roles of adults in public schools, (parents, teachers, administrators) and critically examine how public schools are structured to deal with the intersection of the social justice and childhood issues we have evaluated.

    The second objective is experiential and reflective.  Students will all be carefully placed in K-12 classrooms in East Lansing Public Schools, and spend 3 hours a week working in community.  Students will learn how to participate in a successful civic engagement placement in a public school setting. We will simultaneously develop a sense of self empowerment, build relationships across differences, develop leadership skills, work collaboratively in community, and deepen our understanding of ourselves as change agents.

    Note: Students must have a four-hour block of time (or two two-hour blocks) during the school week (M-F, 8-4) to commit to working in community in addition to attending the class seminars.

    Ghandi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

    Section 005 (Diane Newman)

    ARTS NOW! 

    This course is designed to provide students with a current perspective and understanding of non-profit arts organizations and service-providers. Individual students will be paired with a local arts organization, exposed to the organization’s day-to-day operations and gain useful job skills by being a part of the arts organization/service workforce. Further investigations include the intricacies of the organizational structure including mission statement, by-laws, governing board, budget and grant support. Through conversations with his/her arts community partner, the student will gain insights into the intense commitment integral to managing a community arts organization. Students will closely examine the influence of the arts in multiple facets of human life and develop a personal response toward a projected prognosis for its future.

     

    RCAH 320 Art and Public Life

    Section 001 (Michael Largey)

    Authenticity, Nationalism, and Haiti’s Expressive Culture 

    Media images of Haiti have tended to focus attention on the country’s problems, but rarely do they explore the vibrant and resilient culture of Haiti.  This seminar will explore issues of cultural nationalism and authenticity in Haiti through disciplines including literature, folklore, history, anthropology, religious studies, photography, and ethnomusicology.  By looking at a wide variety of cultural production in Haiti—from Vodou religious practice to political protest music—this course will expose students to a side of Haiti that is rarely discussed in U.S. public discourse.  Students should expect to participate regularly in class discussion, write responses to reading assignments, prepare questions for general discussion, lead class discussion several times during the semester, write one short paper, and take a final examination.  

     

    RCAH 340 Technology and Creativity

    Section 001 (Eric Aronoff)

    Fictions of Science and Technology

    This course will examine the interplay between scientific philosophies, technology and literature.  We will explore this interplay in terms of both content and form: in other words, we will study the ways in which the “subject matter” of science and technology – the theories, discoveries, inventions of science – are explored within novels and short stories to probe their implications for our conceptions of society, the self, and art; we will also think about how scientific “ways of knowing” – rationality, empiricism, linear narrative – have been deployed and resisted to shape the genres of the realist novel, detective fiction, gothic tales and science fiction.  Finally, we will also think about how the technology of the book itself shapes the kinds of narratives that can be produced, and how new technologies – the internet, hypertext, etc. – might produce new kinds of narratives. Texts might include: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake; Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles; William Gibson, Neuromancer; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age; H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds.

     

    RCAH 380 Tutorial

    Section 001 (Estrella Torrez)

    Educational Sovereignty

    Sovereignty does not necessarily connote separation, rather it is used to interrogate a system that marginalizes community-based knowledge. It is only through this interrogation that disenfranchised populations are able to understand and appreciate the individual and communal value of ‘non-traditional’ forms of learning. Moreover, individuals outside of these communities can understand the suprastructures that uphold hegemonic ideologies and suppress peoples-of-color’s funds of knowledge as cultural resources. In this course, students will examine educational models that promote a reorientation of our current educational reality, which views non-white, low SES, and non-English speaking students as culturally deficient.

    Section 002 (Joanna Bosse)

    Making Music American

    In this course we will explore the wealth of music and dance traditions in America engaging topics such as: the role of performance in American cultural life; the relationship between art and commerce; American musical nationalism, performance spaces as a contact zone and birthplace for new styles; and American ambivalence about artistic practice.  We will use these topics as springboards for student work designed on questions they bring to the topic.

    Section 003 (Austin Jackson)

    Popular Culture and the Public Sphere

    In this course, we explore popular culture as an important site of struggle between the forces of domination and resistance. This conception of popular culture immediately raises a number of important questions: What is “culture?”  How does culture become “popular?” Who decides? Can popular culture "speak" to us about critical issues of race, class, and gender relations in society? Are such conversations complicated by dominant, profit-driven "cultural industries" and the power they wield within the public sphere?  

    Section 004 (Tama Hamilton-Wray)

    This student-driven tutorial will allow students to explore how African-American identity has evolved over the past century in American cinema.  By focusing on historical periods in 10-15 year increments, the course examines how groups of films reflect the historical, cultural, and social conditions of a given time period. To investigate this subject, the course includes readings on Black film history, film criticism and African-American history; film screenings; an exploration of spectator and critical response to black film and black image in cinema; classroom discussion; and a group project related to the course content.

     

    RCAH 390 Language and Culture

    Section 001 (Estrella Torrez)

    Multilingualism and Schooling

    Are languages equal? Why should younger generations learn a language irrelevant to a global society? Should resource-strapped educational systems expend funds to provide multilingual education? Should we separate students into homogenous linguistic groups? In addition to these questions, students will investigate how schools are working with heritage language communities to become active agents in maintaining language and protecting their community’s way of life.

    Section 002 (Deidre Dawson)

    Preserving the World’s Endangered Languages

    Linguists estimate that there are between 6,000-7,000 languages still spoken in the world. This sounds like a lot, but linguists also estimate that many languages are becoming extinct at the rate of one every two weeks. Why should we care about this, and what can be done to reverse this trend? In this section of 390 we will discuss how language is linked to culture, identity, and history. We will read recent research that explores the correlation between linguistic diversity, cultural diversity and ecological diversity. Each student will "adopt" an endangered language and prepare a final project dealing with its status today and its prospects for survival.

    This is a 4-credit offering of RCAH 390, but you can only take this course if you have NOT taken RCAH 390 previously.

     

    RCAH 492 Senior Seminar (W)

    Section 001 (Scot Yoder)

    Nearly forty years ago historian Lynn White laid the blame for pressing ecological crisis at the feet of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition. Whether he was correct in his assessment or not, he heightened awareness of the ways in which religious traditions have, and continue to shape our understanding of the natural world. In this course we will explore this connection between religious traditions and the environment, both historically and in contemporary debates about environmental issues. Our resources will include religious texts, theological writings on the environment, and critical analyses of the impact of religion on the environment.

    Section 002 (Terese Monberg)

    The Art(s) of Public Memory: Collective Geographies of History in Literature and Film

    In what forms do we collectively remember and publicly memorialize the past? We often associate public memory with historic sites, monuments, museum exhibits, and PBS documentaries. But public memory has many layers and can take many other forms. In this course, we will look at literature and film as works of public memory. By narrating multiple, diverse, and sometimes competing versions of the past, these art forms often highlight a view of history as a form of knowledge that is carried, narrated, and performed in everyday spaces and places (including the university). In this seminar, we will ask, what histories are these art forms remembering or retelling? What methods do these works use to juxtapose stories and counterstories of the past? How do these representations of the past complicate common understandings of history, collective identity, and civic responsibility? In what ways do these stories position the reader/viewer not just as a passive recipient of these histories but also as an active agent of history, a person who can further the remembering?