“So as to give them courage we must teach people to be shocked by themselves.”

Clearly it’s an honest question (HUM303)


Image Assignment (HUM225)

Create  an image (a drawing, a photo, a graphic) that critiques and/or explores one (or more) specific form(s) of value in US American life. This image should be uploaded as a jpeg to ilearn and be accompanied by a coherent and informed paragraph explaining its significance.  See the Image Forum for further details.

Social Mobility (HUM225)

Finals (HUM415)

OK that’s done: the schedule’s been amended to reflect the changes we decided upon today.

Film Analysis (HUM415)

Pick a film. Watch it once. Take notes.

Think about the film as a whole. Do a free write.

Watch the film again.

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Heads Up (HUM415)

No class 4/16. Instead watch “15 Million Merits”, an episode of the series Black Mirror. You can find it all over the place: vimeo, youtube, netflix, dailymotion.

For Thursday 4/9: Consider the question of why zombies are so pervasive today. What is it about this figure and the scenarios it implies that captures our collective fascination? You might look over the Zimbardo article in the reader.

We will screen and analyze a scene from Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. This will be a graded assignment.

Additional Tracks (HUM303)

From top to bottom:

1. Jimmy Witherspoon, Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do [Orig. 192? This version 1947)

2. Wade Walton, Barbershop Rhythm (“Know what’s whuppin’?” “What’s that?” “This razor.”) [1960]

3. Marylin Scott (Mary Deloatch), I Got What My Daddy Likes [1945?]



Tracking A Rage in Harlem (HUM303)

Various artists from various regions from about the 1920s to the late 1950s. Listen to them: they speak to the social content of A Rage in Harlem.

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Tory had a little lamb

Easily one of the best photo-ops of recent times.




An essay by Colson Whitehead (Zone One, John Henry Days, etc.) published in the NY Times.

You will recall the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog. The Scorpion needs a ride across the river. The waters are rising on account of climate change, or perhaps he has been priced out of his burrow, who knows? The exact reason is lost in the fog of pre-­modernity. The Frog is afraid that the Scorpion will sting him, but his would-­be passenger reassures him that they would both die if that happened. That would be crazy. Sure enough, halfway across, the Scorpion stings the Frog. Just before they drown, the Scorpion says, “Aren’t you going ask why I did that?” And the Frog croaks, “You do you.”

We don’t all partake of the same slang menu — you say “pop,” I say “soda,” and we’ll all get properly sorted on Judgment Day. Wherever you hail from, you’ll recognize “You do you” and “Do you” as contemporary versions of that life-­affirming chestnut “Just be yourself.” It’s the gift of encouragement from one person to another, what we tell children on the first day of kindergarten, how we reassure buddies as they primp for a blind date or rehearse asking for a raise. You do you, as if we could be anyone else. Depending on your essential qualities, this song of oneself is cause for joy or tragedy.

You’ve also come across that expression’s siblings, like the defensive, arms-­crossed “Haters gonna hate” or the perpetually shrugging “It is what it is.” Like black holes, they are inviolable. All criticism is destroyed when it hits the horizon of their circular logic, and not even light can escape their immense gravity. In a world where the selfie has become our dominant art form, tautological phrases like “You do you” and its tribe provide a philosophical scaffolding for our ever-­evolving, ever more complicated narcissism.

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