Spring 2015: Three New Undergraduate Courses in Documentary Studies

Professors Barbara Lau, Charles Thompson, and Marco Williams.

Professors Barbara Lau, Charles Thompson, and Marco Williams.

Three Spring 2015 undergraduate classes—taught by director of the Pauli Murray Project at the Duke Human Rights Center Barbara Lau, professor of the practice of Cultural Anthropology and CDS core faculty member Charles Thompson, and acclaimed filmmaker Marco Williams, the 2014-15 Lehman Brady Visiting Professor—highlight a diverse range of documentary inquiry. Read descriptions of the courses below. Learn more about undergraduate education at CDS here.

DOCST 290S.02 / 790S.02 LGBTQ History and Activism
Instructor: Lau
M 3:05 p.m.–5:35 p.m. (Bridges 201)
This course explores the history of LGBTQ life in the United States; students add to that history through original documentary work in the Duke and Durham communities. Drawing from a number of disciplines including history, anthropology, literature, documentary studies, and sociology, students will examine queer life in different racial and ethnic communities during the twentieth century with special attention paid to the evolution of the LGBTQ rights movement. Through film, oral histories, poetry, and photography, we will explore issues of representation and the power of story to endanger and empower individuals. These larger historical and analytical contexts will provide the grounding for local research about LGBTQ life at Duke and in Durham which will shed light on these lesser known stories of struggle, survival, and activism. Includes a service-learning component involving work in the community. Watch a video of Lau discussing the course here. Cross list: HISTORY 390S, WOMENST 290S, CULANTH 290S.

DOCST 290.01 Food Studies: Interdisciplinary Approach
Instructor: Thompson
M 6:15 p.m.–8:45 p.m. (TBD)
Study of emergent issues in local food movement from many different disciplinary viewpoints. Explores questions such as: Where does industrial food come from and why is it so inadequate? Who sells it to us, and what is their stake in its growth and manufacture? What kinds of farming practices have changed over the last half-century and why? What cultural processes have shaped the planting, harvesting, cooking, packaging, shipping, advertising, selling, and buying of our food? What do these shifts mean for us humans, for farmers, for farm workers, for farm animals, and for the greater environment? What is the role of chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones), genetic modifications, and cloning in this new world of food? Can we really produce enough food without these techniques? Study of emerging discourses of “locavorism” includes examining some of the problems associated with local eating and striving toward solutions that address these problems. Use of ideological critique and its sustained attention to race, class, gender, sexuality, and the more-than-human world (environment and animals) to investigate the wider implications of eating locally for different classes and races of people, and for the animals we eat. We will pay keen attention to the resurgence of the small family farm and consistently ask questions about the role of women and differently gendered people on those farms. Who harvests and cooks local food for us and with what ends in mind? What is the impact of local food on low-income families? Is the small family farm of the 1940s or 1950s really a model we want to return to? Are there better paths to the future of food? Cross list: ENVIRON 390, CULANTH 290, WOMENST 290, PUBPOL 290, ECON 390

DOCST 290S.03 / 790S.03 Documentary Video Editorials: Opinion-Docs
Instructor: Marco Williams
Th 10:05 a.m.–12:35 p.m. (CDS, Bridges 104)
A documentary video production class in which students create short first-person opinion pieces—produced with wide creative latitude and a range of artistic styles—covering current affairs, contemporary life, and historical subjects. Modeled after The New York Times on-line video channel Op-Docs, the class offers students the opportunity to make a subjective, opinionated documentary—an editorial-style documentary. Students will express their views in the first person, through subjects or more subtly through an artistic approach to their topic. Each short documentary will be accompanied by a director’s statement based on their reporting, research, or experience. This special topics course is taught by visiting NYU professor and documentary filmmaker Marco Williams.

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