Fall 2022

Film & Television Studies 096
Film Noir, the City & Existentialism
Professor Hilary Neroni

How is the city represented on film? Our experience of cities is often conflicted: we feel both a great sense of community and an aching sense of alienation. Cities bring all the elements of humanity, good and bad, into close proximity of each other. Out of the history of film, film noir has emerged as particularly attuned to these extreme social tensions and how they impact and infect us as individuals. Film noir is a type of film that has a dramatic style often marked by stark lighting and intricate plots featuring cynical heroes and detectives that have to get their hands dirty in order to solve the crime. In this course, we look at the history of film noir and the city while studying such films as Double Indemnity, The Big Clock, and Chinatown. We also spend time considering contemporary film and television that either falls into the category of film noir or is influenced by it, including films such as Dark City, Fargo, and Devil in a Blue Dress, and television series such as Breaking Bad, True Detective, and Top of the Lake. To investigate these topics we study existentialism, the philosophy most associated with film noir. This philosophy provides a way to think about the experience of the subject.

World Literature 025
Tales from the Global City
Professor Ignacio Lopez-Vicuna

What conventional boundaries must we transgress in order to form authentic communities? How can we live together as diverse groups of strangers? In the late-20th and early 21st centuries, world cities are crucibles of diversity and mobility, yet globalization and privatization lead to individuals’ isolation and alienation. In this course, we examine the individual’s search for connectedness, purpose, and beauty in the international metropolises of New York, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City through literary fiction and nonfiction, framed by the lenses of urban theory and architecture. Additionally, we consider the extent to which diverse bodies (marked by gender, race and ethnicity, and sexuality) are free (or not) to circulate in urban space, and how.

Spring 2023

History 096
Visualizing India
Professor Abigail McGowan

In this course we will explore India through its nineteenth and twentieth century visual and material culture, using images, advertisements, and the histories of things to uncover different perspectives on the past than what is available from other sources. Visual and material culture provided essential tools by which Britain made sense of their colony, Indians integrated global trends and built national identities. By looking at examples including handwoven cloth, soap, motorcycles and much more, we will explore how various visual and material forms have generated meanings in different historical contexts, and how those materials are used for particular social, cultural or political ends. The course will be divided into roughly three parts. In the first, we will do a crash course in Indian history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, offering a quick overview of the development of British colonial rule, the reorientation of local economies towards imperial and global markets, and the various caste, religious, social and anti-colonial movements that roiled this era. With this as a rough starting point, we will then turn to the second part, where we explore key changes of the era through iconic visual and material sources. To explore new gender ideals, we will explore how the 1920s Modern Girl (known for her flapper dresses and bobbed hair) reconciled global and local expectations of femininity, while health tonics attempted to shore up middle class masculinity. To explore ideas of progress and development, we will look at posters promoting railway travel, along with the successful campaign to get Singer sewing machines into homes across the subcontinent. Through these and other examples, we will focus on how particular objects or visual genres helped to define and express ideas in the past. Finally, in the third section of the course, we will take the breadth of knowledge and methodologies learned over the course of the semester to offer our own visual interpretations of the past. Here we will be focusing specifically on advertisements as a way to explore daily life and everyday politics in different moments of time. Working with the Times of India (which is fully archived online, available through the UVM library) from the 1900s through the mid-1940s, students will work in groups to explore key themes about Indian history—gender, health/medicine, modernity/progress, and empire/nation—using advertisements to explore markets, desires, consuming practices, and political choices in late colonial urban India.

Philosophy 096
Philosophy as a Way of Life
Professor Riin Sirkel