Writing Across the Arts. Special Topic: Ecology and Response Abilities

(English 201, Spring 2010, Emily Carr)

This particular course starts by approaching ecology, or what Tim Lilburn has called “living in the world as if it were home.” As this home heats up with global warming and people increasingly realize how the planet’s interdependent systems affect one another in a complex ecology, how are artists, designers, writers, and public intellectuals finding ways to creatively respond to the situations at hand? Through regular writing assignments that respond to art, critical prose, media, and films, we will examine the ways in which people frame environmental questions through language, applying rhetorical strategies that may range from acknowledging apocalyptic dread to offering pragmatic suggestions to encouraging a radical shift in values and priorities. As we read and think, we will consider how expectations regarding audience and context affect the form, tone, voice, and style of one’s writing. We will discuss writerly and readerly strategies for navigating between contexts, disciplines, and social spaces. Through participating in a larger ongoing dialogue, how might we foster our abilities to respond to ecological change?

Written Projects

(HUMN 411, Spring 2010, Emily Carr)

This course will bring together students who are interested in articulating how their work is located within a larger critical, cultural and theoretical context. In a seminar environment, students will be introduced to various research methodologies and will come to a better understanding of what constitutes good critical writing across the disciplines and within various genres. Through discussions, presentations, and readings (provided by both students and faculty), students will learn from their colleagues and develop ideas about their own research as it relates to their art practice and academic studies. Class meetings will focus on the process and development of the students’ written projects.

Water and You

(Humanities 306, Fall 2009, Emily Carr)

This course will explore cultural and ecological perspectives on water. Is water the oil of the 21st century? Is water–as Dorothy Christian phrases it–“the embodiment of spirit”? Is it a resource to be conserved and protected? Is it the hydro-commons that connects all our bodies, which are roughly 70% water? Is it all this and much more? Although water is rightly perceived as part of the natural world, it is important to investigate how cultural perspectives on water shape our interactions with it. How might we respond to and learn from different perceptions and stories of water?

Acknowledging how Vancouver is located on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples, we will start with the local. Vancouver was once home to more than 50 salmon streams, most of which have been destroyed with urban settlement, yet important residues remain. Students will have the opportunity to take local stream walks, to view current films on the topic of water, to try contemplative practices, and to develop a research project of their choice. Learning from the hydrological cycle that connects our local watersheds with worldwide oceans and rivers, we will also discuss global water issues.

Interdisciplinary Forums. Special Topic: Why Collaborate ?

(AHIS 333, Fall 2009, co-taught with Henry Tsang)

This course takes advantage of the knowledge and experience articulated in the various public presentations at Emily Carr in order to help students engage more directly with current practices in art and design. The course will contextualize weekly lectures, exhibitions, screenings, or other public events in an integrated examination of issues central to contemporary art practice. The course is structured through a program of public lectures, influential readings, team-taught lectures and seminars, discussions, written assignments and presentations.

Given that creative processes for larger-scale projects often require more expertise than what one person can provide, collaboration can create possibilities that otherwise would not be imaginable. What are the risks and advantages of working with others? What does one give up in doing so? In what situations and contexts might collaboration work for you?

This course will introduce students to a diverse selection of cultural practitioners who will share their experience about the challenges, perils, pitfalls and rewards in working collaboratively. They will range from those whose open-ended inclusive approaches involve extensive consultation processes as well as those with exclusive structures wherein everyone’s responsibilities are clearly defined, working together as parts of a well-oiled machine. They will address the notion of artistic vision: whose is it, when there are many contributors and participants? As every relationship has implicit power dynamics at play, how are these negotiated, and what kinds of hierarchies are reinforced or resisted in the process?

The format of this class is a lecture series that will incorporate conversations and interviews of guest speakers. Students will be required to write two responses and a praxis paper exploring the theory and practice of interdisciplinarity and collaboration in contemporary cultural production.

Rethinking Women’s Worlds (Humanities 305, Fall 2008, Emily Carr)

This course explores how women artists and writers create cultural change. Starting with an examination of language and everyday experience, it considers the ways gender is constructed across age, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, (dis)ability and geographical location. We will pay attention to both local and international perspectives regarding how women creatively organize for change.

Introduction to Writing Poetry (English 292, University of Miami)

This workshop-format course will involve regular peer critiques, writing exercises, readings, and class discussions. In addition to writing regularly, students are also expected to read a wide range of poetry and to explore what different forms and approaches can offer them. By the end of the course, students will produce a final portfolio of poetry, which may be in the form of a chapbook or the equivalent thereof.

Introduction to Cultural Theory (Sociology 201, Emily Carr)

This course provides an introduction to cultural theory as it has evolved to reach its present prominence in visual practice. Through a study of a number of the more influential schools of thought which have come to us from the social sciences–structuralism, semiotics, Marxism, psychoanalysis, postmodernism, etc.–and the social contexts which shape them, students will develop a better understanding of contemporary thinking in design, media and visual art.

Creative Writing (English 200, Emily Carr, and English 209, University of Miami)

An introduction to creative writing, this workshop-format course focuses on poetry, short fiction. and nonfiction or drama. Students are asked to regularly share their writing with the class, and to offer constructive feedback on each other’s writing. Students can also expect to read, hear, and respond to contemporary work by published writers. Through a process of readings, exercises, and critiques, we will develop our experience and abilities with a range of textual practices.

Asian American Literature (English 366, University of Miami)

With the increasing prominence of Asian Americans in American society, a large and fascinating body of Asian American literary works has also grown. In this class we will read both major and emerging works within the Asian American literary field against the backdrop of their respective historical/social contexts. In this way, we will gain insight into the cultural negotiations that these texts undertake, and examine the dialogue between these texts and our present historical/social conditions. We will also bring these texts into a dialogue with each other to explore what ideological, aesthetic, or thematic threads recur in Asian American literature—as well as the dissensions that prevent it from being monolithic. Starting points will include many of the major issues that have come to shape the study of Asian American literature: assimilation; authenticity; representation; gender and sexuality; racialization; silence and voice; historical recovery; and transnationalism.

Literature and Composition II (English 101, Emily Carr)

This course continues the practice of critical reading and writing introduced in Literature and Composition I (English 100), but in the study of literature the focus shifts to an exploration of the genres of contemporary poetry and drama.

Literature and Composition I (English 100, Emily Carr)

This introduction to the practice of critical writing and reading is designed to help students develop the skills necessary for the close reading and clear expression of ideas essential to further study and practice in art and design. This course also addresses issues in literature and art, and through selected readings students will develop a better understanding and appreciation of some of the issues and practices of modern and contemporary shorter fiction.