Spring 2020 "Portrait of the Artist as ____: Twentieth-Century Authorship in Theory and Practice." 

Close your eyes and imagine an artist. What or who do you see? This course will explore the theories and representations of authorship and artistry that have shaped the way most of us imagine such figures. We will also discuss works of criticism, literature, and art that seek to counter or transform this tradition from a variety of angles and positionalities. Figures we will attend to include James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Frida Kahlo, Zora Neale Hurston, Vincent Van Gogh, and Andy Warhol.


Winter 2020 "Inhabiting the Borderlands: Latinx Embodiment in Literature, Art, and Popular Culture"

How does a Latinx cultural identity become legible? What are the conditions of its recognition? What kinds of embodied practices and performances serve to point to the particular intersections of race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and gender that can be termed “Latinx”? To approach these questions, this course will explore critical texts by Diana Taylor, Gloria Anzaldúa, Julia Alvarez, Coco Fusco, José Esteban Muñoz, and Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, among others, as well as performances, artwork, and literature by La Lupe, Walter Mercado, Yalitza Aparicio, Cherríe Moraga, Judith Baca, Carmen Maria Machado, and more.

Spring 2019 "What Do Pictures Want...From the Novel?"

This course will bring together theories and methods associated with visual culture & literary studies in order to investigate a range of modern and contemporary novels that make use of visual media. We will be reading work by André Breton, Kurt Vonnegut, Ishmael Reed, Kathy Acker, W.S. Sebald, Barbara Browning, and Valeria Luiselli .The questions we will be asking include: How do pictures help tell stories? What kind of stories need pictures? What kinds of relationships between practices of looking and reading are established by intermedial novels? What relation to the world beyond the pages of the novel do images help stage? What kind of reader does the novelist who uses images anticipate or desire? How is the theme of desire developed in the novel itself? Students who take this course will learn to use formal analysis to explore intersections of visual and verbal media.


Winter 2019 "‘Bad’ Taste: Camp, Kitsch, and More."

This course explores the politics of ‘bad’ taste by carefully investigating scenes of aesthetic pleasure—and displeasure— with orthogonal, if not oppositional, relations to traditional Anglo-American artistic standards. Taking Susan Sontag’s famous 1964 essay as a starting point and moving forwards and backwards in time, students will be asked to study critical texts and works of art having to do with kitsch, camp, racial or afro-kitsch, rasquachismo, and the middlebrow. In each of these cases, the relation between aesthetics and group identities based in gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, and race will be examined. Students who take this course will learn to use formal analysis to interrogate connections between particular works of art and aesthetic categories associated with discrete sociopolitical positions.