Friday, April 25, 2014

Harry Potter! Sci-Fi Films! Great CMCL A&H Summer Classes with Openings

CMCL-C 207: Topics in Cultural Analysis and Interpretation

(Topic: Poisonous Potions, Charming Curses, and the Dark Arts: Harry Potter and Rhetorico-Magics of Justice)

Class Number: 15323 (6W1)


MTuWTh,10:20 AM-12:10 PM, C2 203


Carries CASE A&H Credit
Carries GenEd Breadth of Inquiry A&H Credit


Instructor: Jeremy Gordon

Office: C2 248

Phone: 855-2365

In the Encomium to Helen, Gorgias, an ancient rhetorician, defends the famous spark of the Trojan War by claiming that her soul could have been seduced by the "divine sweetness" in the enchanting language of love.  "Speech is a powerful lord," argues Gorgias, "that with the smallest and most invisible body . . . can banish fear and remove grief and instill pleasure and enhance pity."  Gorgias situates such power in terms of magic, claiming that the "force of incantation is wont to beguile and persuade and alter it [the soul] by witchcraft . . ."  Thus, the charms and curses of rhetoric might be considered a form of magic that beguiles and bewitches.  Gorgias' sentiments are alluring and a flick of the wand away in Hermione Granger's conjuring of the confundus charm in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, or a stir away from Professor Serverus Snape's alchemical arts, "the beauty of the softly cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind and ensnaring the senses . . . I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death."  Rhetoric and magic are dynamic, lively, and animating, full of potential, for "good" and "ill."  Both are risky and subtle and require nuance.  And both are absolutely necessary for deciding on matters of justice and how a just society should be arranged.  Just as the magical arts are central for the wizarding world, rhetoric is central for our Muggle realm, especially when it comes to judgments of virtue/vice, innocence/guilt, good/bad, and what are just deserts.  If, as Professor Snape asserts, potions can creep and bewitch and ensnare for a multitude of ends, how do we know when to brew/use a certain draught, and when not to?  Similar questions might be asked of Gorgias and his sweet rhetoric.  In short, the ethics of rhetoric and magic become a primary concern in how we (witch)craft justice.



CMCL-C 392: Media Genres

(Topic: The Sci-Fi Film: Science Fiction as Cultural Mirror)
Class Number: (6W1)
MTuWTh, 3:00 PM-4:50 PM, C2 203
Required film screening: TuTh, 7:15 PM-10:15 PM, WY 015
Carries CASE A&H Credit

Instructor: Joshua Vasquez

Office: C2 214

Phone: 856-5367


Science Fiction is one of the most enduring genres, circulating across multiple media forms, including popular and literary novels, as well as comic books, videogames, and music, and especially the mass arenas of television and film. Sci-Fi is capable of asking questions of the profoundest scope and of the narrowest focus, from inquiries into the nature of existence and the infinite to interrogations of spectatorship and fandom as well as industrial practice. As with many genres, when we look closely at Science Fiction we have the opportunity to peer into the workings of culture itself and interact with the shifts in, and mediations circulating through, social structures, sentiments, fears, and fascinations.


This class will focus specifically on Sci-Fi film as a way to not only explore the styles and stories of a single genre but rather an entire constellation of culturally inscribed and embedded narratives, themes, and representations. It seems that we keep coming back to Science Fiction as a way to explore ourselves. What can Sci-Fi’s generic adaptability tell us about the cultural usefulness of a genre primed to explore topics as continually socially relevant as fears of the Other, environmental disaster, forces of oppression and resistance, and questions of being and the self?


Assignments will include a Take-Home Midterm, quizzes and short written responses, and a final exam.


Screenings may include Blade Runner, Looper, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Inception, The Fly, Solaris, and Star Trek Into Darkness.


CMCL-C 190: Introduction to Media – required class for CMCL major and minor 
Class Number: 13828 (8W1) 
MTuWTh, 12:40 PM-1:55 PM, SY 004
Required film screening: TuTh, 7:15 PM-10:15 PM, WY 005
Required for all majors in the Department of Communication and Culture
Carries CASE A&H Credit
Carries GenEd Breadth of Inquiry A&H Credit

Instructor: Christopher Miles

Office: C2 212

Phone: 855-7238


References to the power and prevalence of “the media” are commonplace.  But what are “the media?”  How do they work and for whom?  As media increasingly pervade the fabric of daily life, and as fewer and fewer entities dominate media ownership, the urgency of asking and answering these questions only grows in importance.


Yet, these questions are incredibly difficult to ask—much less to answer—owing in part to the ways in which the structure and functioning of the media remain, for many of us, taken for granted, perhaps even something of a mystery.  This course will introduce you to the basic vocabularies of visual and media literacy and hone your skills at analyzing media texts, institutions, apparatuses, and audiences critically.  We will focus on four prevalent media genres—film, radio, television, and the internet—and our goal will be to explore the relationships between and among form, content, ownership, and meaning with respect to each.  C190 will help you to appreciate more fully the complex ways in which the media inhabit and affect social, cultural, political, and economic life.  More importantly, it will provide you with the analytical, interpretive, and critical skills by which to navigate and begin to make sense of the densely mediated landscapes we inhabit.



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