Feit Interdisciplinary Seminars Fall 2016
Spike Lee vs. Alfred Hitchcock
Arthur Lewin, Black and Latino Studies
Stephen Whitty, Film Critic
While many compare Spike Lee to Woody Allen, a more accurate comparison is perhaps to Alfred Hitchcock. These two original and prolific filmmakers are rooted in different genres – Hitchcock in suspense and Lee in social commentary – but they are in many ways similar. Though each received studio funding, neither was ever tied down to one particular studio. They were Hollywood “outsiders,” Hitchcock British and Lee African American. Spike Lee’s penchant for playing parts in many of his films echoes Hitchcock’s obligatory cameos. Both began directing in their twenties and both made a film a year for many years. And while they have each been revered as cinema icons, neither won the Academy Award. Both heavily sprinkled subliminal cues throughout their films. And each man's body of work can actually serve as an extended historical document. The course will be co-taught by an expert on the representation of Black Americans in the mass media and by a renowned film critic who has twice served as chair of the New York Circle of Film Critics.
Home in Exile: Creative Expression and the Diasporic Experience
Debra Caplan, Fine and Performing Arts
Tshombe Miles in Black and Latino Studies
How do people cope with leaving their homelands? How do cultures survive and change under the pressures of migration, dispersal, and exile? This seminar examines the experience of diaspora as expressed culturally through music, food, clothing, theater, film, literature, and internet culture. We will begin by defining the meaning of ‘diaspora’ and its relationship to other concepts such as race, nation, cultural identity, and migration. The term ‘diaspora’ suggests the dispersal of people from their homeland, which often has multiple meanings. For some people, this homeland might be a place they have never visited or have no real physical connection to. For others, the homeland could be a place that they have constant contact with through travel, communication, and family members. The second half of the course will consider different forms of cultural expression of the diasporic experience through a comparative lens. Though the seminar will consider a wide range of diasporic experiences, we will primary focus on two paradigmatic case studies: the Jewish diaspora and the African diaspora. Readings in diaspora studies across the disciplines (including anthropology, sociology, history, political science, comparative literature, geography, theater history, performance studies, and musicology) are paired with examples of food, music, clothing, literature, performances, and other cultural artifacts that exemplify particular diasporic traits, themes, or ideas.