Academic Year of 2020


Intercultural Courses Offered in LGBTQ, Gender, Women Studies, Culture, and Spirituality

Please note: this is not a complete list of classes offered by RISD. Please refer to the academic course catalog for a complete list of course offerings. 


Spring 2020 
Instructor: Kosmider, A

Literature is one facet of culture. The significance of literature can be best understood in terms of the culture for which it springs, and the purpose is clear only when the reader understands and accepts the assumptions on which literature is based" (Paula Gunn Allen-Laguna Sioux poet). This course will explore value systems and aesthetics that are from very diverse Native cultures, focusing on the ways in which indigenousness relates to literature and storytelling. The critical methodologies developed by Native critics such as Gerald Vizenor (Anishinaabe writer and scholar), and Craig Womack (Muscogee Creek-Cherokee author and professor of Native Studies) will enable us to study Native frameworks and new ways to regard literature/histories. We will explore questions such as can Native American theory/literature transform or challenge non-Native critical theoretical strategies. Our discussions, which may take a variety of directions, will also examine such issues as American Indian identities and communities as well as the impact of colonization on tribal peoples.

Instructor: Fink, M

Modern Jewish literary form and content developed from the 19th-century emancipation with its socialist, Zionist, and romantic options. We move from these roots to the satiric and elegiac voice of contemporary America. Authors studied will include Sholom Aleichem, Isaac Singer, Elie Wiesel, Bernard Malamud.

Instructor: Methot, G

This course will focus on the literary expression of American counterculture during the 1950s and 60s the so-called 'Beat' and 'Hippie' generations. The writers, artists, musicians, and bohemians who gave voice to counterculture during these two decades impacted not only literature and art, but also revolutionized social and political ideologies. Their emphasis on individual freedom, spiritual liberation, and subcultural hipness, called on all Americans to define their "authentic" selves, to seek higher consciousnesses, and to resist the establishment's repressive mandate that we remain passive consumers rather than active creators. With literature as our guide, we'll begin by examining the Beat movement with its emphasis on spontaneity and the search for 'ITO' we'll then look at how Beat aesthetics and ideologies were adopted and politicized during the heyday of the Hippie movement; finally, we'll consider the impact of these earlier generations on later countercultural movements such as the Punks of the 70s and early 80s. In the course of our reading, we'll consider the impact of cultural contexts and political motivations on the literature: the Cold War; McCarthyism; the rise of mass consumer culture and mass media; the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements; and shifting politics around gender and sexuality. We'll also investigate how members of those groups already on the margins of dominant socio-political discourse-women, racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities-relate to the notion of counterculture. Expect readings from Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Sylvia Plath, Tom Wolfe, Joseph Heller, Jim Carroll, Aaron Cometbus, and Hunter S. Thompson.
Open to sophomores and above.

Instructor: Vander Closter, S

We will study contemporary world narratives-fiction and film-which have been published or produced within the last ten to twenty years. In order to keep up with current work, the specific content of the course will change each year. We will study fiction and film in English and in translation (subtitled). In the past, the work of Salman Rushdie, Mario Vargas Llosa, Kamila Shamsie, Tash Aw, Shahrnush Parsipur, and Haruki Murakami has been included. In addition to the assigned reading, we will screen and discuss an international film each week. By the end of the semester, thematic and stylistic links as well as the uniqueness of certain work, like Kore-eda Hirokazu's After Life, Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing, or Roy Andersson's You, the Living, will become apparent. Short analytic/interpretive essays in response to the fiction and film and thoughtful class participation are required.

Instructor: Canfield, R

This course will engage enactments of Irish drama in the twentieth/twenty-first century, from Yeats to Denis Johnston, O'Casey, Synge, Heaney, Keene, Behan, McDonagh, Friel and the crucial contributions of women playwrights to this canon, from Lady Gregory to Anne Devlin, Katy Hayes, Una Troy and others. The course will supplement these readings with selections from Irish cinema, from Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan to Roddy Doyle, Terry George, Alan Parker, Michael McDonagh and recent documentary work from Ireland, as well as a discussion of the Republican muralist tradition as street drama. Students will engage these texts through analysis, discussion, and short essays, culminating in a longer essay to more fully explore central issues and cap the course.
Open to sophomores and above.


Instructor: Highfield, J

There is a long history of literature on the Indian subcontinent, and while Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka have different histories since partition, their literary history and continued development are intertwined. This course will look at the literature of the region, including works by writers in exile. Writers examined may include Anand, Desai, Hamid, Narayan, Nasrin, and Rushdie.

Instructor: Ahmid Kargbo, M

Greg Tate has said that "Black people live the estrangement that science fiction writers imagine." This course takes up the nexus of intersections between black history and the radical black imagination that is commonly called Afrofuturism, focusing in particular on figurations of Africa as a space of science fictional possibility from both sides of the Atlantic. If Afrofuturism has been, as Kodwo Eshun has said, "a program for recovering the histories of counter-futures created in a century hostile to Afrodiasporic projection," how do these writers, filmmakers and artists of the African diaspora reshape the very definition of who and/or what qualifies as human? What can these visions tell us about living in a black body in the present? How can Afrofuturism be used to critique racial asymmetries in the present and to imagine as-yet-unrealized, free black futures? From literature to film to music to art we will trace Afrofuturism across the twenty-first century cultural landscape. Using Afrofuturism, critical race studies, and queer theory, we will investigate the ways that science fiction's disruption of race, gender, and sexuality as stable categories offers radical models for our present and possible futures.
Open to sophomores and above.

Instructor: Finch, M

Launched originally as Timely Comics in 1939, Marvel Comics has always reflected, commented on, and shaped the real world. This course will focus on Marvel Comics creation of visually black hero and superheroes as well as metaphors for blackness during the Black Civil Rights/ Black Power Movements-specifically Luke Cage, Black Panther, and the X-Men, -in order to consider how Marvel mobilized the racial and colonial unrest of the period to imagine and in some cases imaginatively contain trajectories of black political insurgency. Because all three of these figures/comic books have re-emerged over the last several years, after attempting to understand the work as original construction in its original context, we will look at Marvel's contemporary filmic articulations of blackness to consider whether they represent the same or different projects regarding race and colonialism.

But what I write and how I write is done in order to save my own life. And I mean that literally. For me literature is a way of knowing that I am not hallucinating, that whatever I feel/know is.
-Barbara Christian: The Race For Theory.
Open to sophomores and above.

Instrutor: Highfield, J

Australia's literary culture is intertwined with the history of the First Fleet and the convicts who were the first Europeans to live on the continent. This seminar examines the convict in literature and its continuing reverberations in Australian culture. We will begin by looking at the poems of the convict Francis MacNamara-"Frank the Poet"-then move on the Marcus Clarke's epic about convict life, For the Term of His Natural Life. We will then look at some contemporary Australian literature which looks back at Transportation and its after-effects.

HPSS-S174 MODERN CHINA (3 Credits)
Instructor: Ding, X

Based on in-class discussions, this course explores the Chinese cultural, political and social transformations throughout the twentieth century. The student will engage key issues in the recent Chinese past, including the Communist revolution, the Great Famine, the Cultural Revolution, One Child policy, state censorship, ethnic conflicts, and China/Taiwan relations. This course will help us better understand China today and how it will change in the future.
HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

Instructor: Jones, H

This course will address the dynamics, history, and context of gender-based privilege and intersectional oppression in US culture. We will accomplish this interdisciplinarily through academic text, video, pop-cultural analysis, and personal experiences. Potential topics include: feminist activism, systems of privilege and oppression, learning gender, the body, family dynamics, work, gender-based violence, sex and intimacy, health and reproductive justice, the law, religion, and more. In a cisheteronormative culture, we acknowledge that while the gender binary is not real, its impact is very real. As such, we will analyze the ways the binary affects us all as we grow from children in adulthood, and the realities of living outside of it.
HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

Instructor: Marcotte, M

Multicultural Psychology is more than just understanding and appreciating diversity, it's about the influence that a multicultural world has on individuals and social systems that exist within it. Together we will explore the social constructs of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, and ability through readings, videos, in-class activities, and class discussion. Informed by psychological theory and research, we will examine the impact that these labels have on a person's identity development, societal positioning, and mental and physical health and well-being. By the end of the class, students will be able to explain the advantages and challenges that individuals and societies face as we become more interconnected in a diverse world.
HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite for undergraduates.

Instructor: Duncan, M

This course introduces theoretical concepts that have influenced our understanding of media and modern culture. Our aim will be to interrogate the relationship between representation and modernity, exploring how various media structure perceptions of ourselves and the world around us. Students will read a collection of texts from various critical traditions including semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, social theory, feminism, queer studies, post-modernism, critical race studies, and post-colonial theory.
HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if the student desires HPSS credit.

Instructor: Lambrecht, W

This course is designed to acquaint students with a variety of non-Western traditional aesthetic expressions from the Americas. The course will explore the indigenous contexts, both historical and contemporary, in which these art forms are or were created and function. We will explore the cultural matrix and aesthetics of selected communities from the Americas, particularly from North America, such as the Inuit, the Kwakwaka, the Plains nations, the Eastern sea board, the Southwest of the US, such as the Hopi and Navajo, and Northern Mexico communities, time permitting. We will frame the presentations and discussions from both an ethnographic and an art historical perspective.
Also offered as HPSS-C517; register in the course for which credit is desired.
HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if taken for HPSS credit.

Instructor: Campbell, B

This seminar focuses on the history, discourses and transformations of the black female body as contested site of sexuality, resistance, representation, agency and identity in American visual culture. Organized thematically, with examples drawn from painting, sculpture, photography, film, popular culture and mixed media installations, we examine how the deployment, manipulations and construction of the signification of the asexualized mammy complex is juxtaposed against the jezebel vixen in a shifting terrain from the antebellum era through the post-racial decade of the 21st century.

Instructor: Dematte, P

This course will focus on the cultural and artistic activities which came into being as a result of contacts between the civilizations of Europe and Asia (China in particular). Among the topics explored will be: the ancient world, the Silk Route and Buddhism, the nomads of Eurasia as agents of cultural exchange, early European travelers to China (Marco Polo), the Jesuits at the court of the Chinese emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and finally the Western colonial experience.

Instructor: Campbell, B

This course examines the artistic images of black women artists in the African Diaspora. We will investigate how race, gender, sexuality and ethnicity have shaped and continues to shape black female identity and artistic productions particularly in the USA, Europe, Britain, Brazil and the Caribbean.

Fall 2020 

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