Feit Interdisciplinary Seminars Spring 2016

Outlaw Nation: Pirates, Slaves, Witches and Others in the Revolutionary Atlantic
IDC 4050H / FMWH
M/W 4:10-5:25
Rick Rodriguez, English
Elizabeth Heath, History

What did it mean to be free in the Atlantic world during the age of revolutions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Prevailing narratives tend to associate freedom with Enlightenment philosophy and elites’ property rights. This focus, however, turns freedom into an abstraction unsullied by the raucous practices of outlaws and other marginal figures likewise engaged in the pursuit of happiness but who had little chance of being counted as citizens. Our course invites you to reconsider freedom from the bottom up as the improvised practices of politically marginal subjects. Writers, artists, and politicians variously celebrated, decried, and sought to contain the threat that these figures posed to the early—and still fragile—American Republic. We will read court cases, slave narratives, poetry, political pamphlets, studies of prisons, and novels, along with recent work on cultural theory and history. Authors include: Phillis Wheatley, Thomas Jefferson, Olaudah Equiano, Edmund Burke, Alexis de Tocqueville, David Walker, Washington Irving, Harriet Jacobs, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, John Rollin Ridge, and Herman Melville.

Jazz: Cultural Touchstone of the 20th Century
IDC 4050H / PTRH
T/TH 5:50-7:05 PM
Gene Marlow, Journalism

Jazz, “America’s classical music,” has been called the only indigenous contribution made by the United States to world culture. In the first third of the semester, we will explore various jazz styles and the relationship between jazz and other fine and performing arts. In the balance of the semester, we will examine jazz in relation to society at large. For example, it is almost impossible to talk about jazz without reference to racism and as a metaphor for democracy. Almost every week, the course coordinator will host guest experts from many corners of the jazz world, including performers, club owners, photographers, journalists, label executives, public relations practitioners, and historians, among others. Early in the semester each student will identify an area of interest and develop a research project for presentation at the end of the semester. Among various resources, students will be provided with a reference reading list, including such works as Jazzocracy by Kabir Sehgal, Jazz: The First Century by John Edward Hasse, and Jazz Planet, edited by E. Taylor Atkins. This Feit Seminar is being offered as part of the 24th Anniversary Celebration of Baruch’s Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives Series.

Media and Democracy
IDC 4050H / NTH
T 2:30-5:25
Don Waisanen, School of Public Affairs (Communications)
Sonia Jarvis, School of Public Affairs (Law)

How do the media either promote or limit the potential for democratic values to take hold in society? How do elites work with media systems to manufacture consent and ideology among citizens? This cutting edge seminar will examine such issues as: the effects of violent entertainment; the impact of food and drug advertising on children and adults; the corporate and governmental surveillance of citizens; and how images of minorities in the news and movies influence citizens’ beliefs and behaviors – and ultimately public policy. We will investigate the domestic and global possibilities for media diversity, the use of social media in the political process, and other new trends. Students will work to form and articulate a vision for how we might best move forward based on course readings, film viewings, and lively, interactive discussions.


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