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This course explores the contemporary fascination with dystopian literature and movies including what themes dystopian societies have in common, what leads to dystopia, and what dystopian pop culture demonstrates about modern society and psychology. It dives into real life policies that could be considered to be “dystopian” and explores dystopian societies’ counterpart — a potential future utopian society beyond Earth — to compare and contrast these different worlds as plausible premises.
Crafting Modern Identities via Contested Cultural Heritages and Narratives
When looking at the history of a group, its shared values, experiences, artifacts, and traditions all come together to constitute its collective heritage. While historical facts are facts and alternative facts are not a real thing, facts can still be contested, and reporting the narrative of a group is often more of an exercise colored by intention, utility, power dynamics, and modern relationships amongst stakeholders. As Howard (2003) explains, “history is interested in the past, heritage is interested in how the past might be conserved and interpreted for the benefit of the present and the future” (p. 21). How does framing a fight as a battle versus a massacre affect its perception? What are the consequences of the story of a war being told only by the victors? What constitutes world heritage? The way that history is reported and framed is oftentimes intentional and can evolve over time and have major influence over present day and future events and relationships. This course explores these themes and offers students the chance to research their chosen aspect of the intentions and effects of contested heritage and narratives around the world.