Imagining Futurity in Contemporary Film and Media: Speculative Narratives and Social Justice
What will the future look like? What can these imagined futures tell us about inequity in the present? Filmmakers and other artists have tackled these questions in such diverse forms as independent shorts, blockbuster franchises, and music videos, deploying speculative genres to interrogate contemporary sociopolitical realities by presenting future possibilities. In this course, we will engage with recent films, television shows, and music to explore the trajectory from the past to our present and on to potential futures. Although the course is organized thematically, as the semester progresses we will consider where manifestations of oppression intersect and how filmmakers (and other artists) imagine possibilities for united resistance across marginalized communities. In this way, speculative narratives challenge the boundaries constructed to separate genders, communities, nation-states, and even species, offering in their place narratives that traverse time, space, and genre. This course includes readings in film theory and analysis, as well as multidisciplinary approaches from cultural studies, history, and anthropology. Requirements will include regular participation, short response papers, a critical analysis and in-class presentation on a speculative narrative genre of your choice, quizzes and in-class writing assignments, and a research paper. **Fulfills Counter-Canons and Critical Issues Major Requirement**
Representative texts: The Twilight Zone "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" (1964), Le Transperceneige (1982, translated to English in 2014), Children of Men (2006), Janelle Monáe's Metropolis series (selections, 2007-2013), Snowpiercer (2013) Anamata Future News (2015), 3% "Chapter 1: Cubes" (2016), Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Introduction to Asian American Literature and Culture
The broad category “Asian” belies the extreme diversity of culture and experience that characterizes peoples with Asian and Pacific heritage in the United States. This course will offer an introduction to American authors whose ancestry can be traced across Asia and the Pacific—including, but not limited to, China, India, Japan, the Pacific Islands, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. We will consider an array of narrative forms—comics, novels, short stories, and television—to address how Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders choose to tell their stories. We will also explore narrative elements such as point-of-view, style, structure, and voice to examine how authors of Asian and Pacific Island descent are impacted by, and respond to, their sociopolitical circumstances in the United States. Beginning with late 19th century immigration narratives, we will survey a broad range of literature from authors with ancestral legacies that stretch across Asia and the Pacific Islands leading to the significant impact Asian Americans are having on contemporary television. After building a solid foundation in the history of Asian American and Pacific Islander literature, we will delve into how Asian American authors deploy specific literary forms—poetry, drama, or the graphic novel—to address particular issues and historical traumas, considering how their choice of form impacts the meaning of their work. As a cultural studies course, we will explore questions of gender, indigeneity, race, and sexuality; there will also be opportunities to engage with introductory Asian American literary and cultural scholarship. Students will practice analytical skills through reading responses and engage in an extended critical investigation through a midterm and final project.