Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Choice (HUM425)

I’ve thought about it and I’d like to give you a choice in terms of the assignment due on Tuesday. The readings are as follows:

1. Hall, Representation (this is your most important reading)

2. Mitchell, “What is an Image?”
Barthes, “The Rhetoric of the Image”

That is to say, you can read EITHER Mitchell or Barthes. It’s your decision. A pdf of the Barthes reading has been uploaded to the eReader section of the syllabus.

All That is Solid Melts Into Air (HUM415/ HUM425)

Students of both HUM415 and HUM425 ought to take a look at this video installation by Mark Boulos. It’s a remarkable artistic challenge to complacency, a work that in its jarring juxtapositions of images and clash of sound tracks makes the familiar strange and the unfamiliar coherent if not sympathetic. See also a video interview with Boulos here and a print interview here.

Hall and Mitchell (HUM425)

I’m not saying don’t read the Mitchell, but I would advise that you devote the bulk of your energies to Hall’s article on representation as you prepare for Tuesday’s class. Hall will provide us with some of the tools that we will use throughout the semester. So: take reading notes.

These texts may seem challenging or difficult. That’s good; it means the work is getting done. As my graduate adviser once said, “If this reading irritates you, examine the source of your irritation.”


Errata, etc. (HUM455)

I fixed the schedule and the pdf of the syllabus. The first essay is due on Feb. 10. The prompt is under that date in the schedule.

Wednesday we’ll discuss the assigned readings as screen “Yeah, Yeah, We Speak English”. Any questions? Send them to this post.

Left overs (HUM303)

A few things I neglected to mention in today’s class:

1. It’s important to check in to this blog from time to time. The easiest way to stay abreast of course-related matters is to “follow” the blog for the remainder of the semester. I will always tag posts that are directed at HUM303 students. You need pay attention only to those posts with (HUM303) in the title.

2. We didn’t talk about the soundtrack of the robbery sequence from Killing Them Softly. There are elements of what seem to be diegetic sound in the card room which lend a broader significance to the events that transpire there. Can you guess what they are?

3. Note the formal terms used in class: sound bridge, framing, hand-held camera, shot, sequence, p.o.v. Begin to build your film analysis vocabulary. Consult the Yale Film Analysis Website.

4. Finally, remember that your passport is due on Wednesday. Consult the course information page (303 tab at the top of this page)  and the questionnaire page to complete that assignment.

85 against half of humanity

“The richest 85 people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion – or half the world’s entire population – put together.”

— Alex Andreou, “Trickle-down Economics”

See the Oxfam report:

The report says:
· Globally, the richest individuals and companies hide trillions of dollars away from the tax man in a web of tax havens around the world – it is estimated that $21 trillion is held unrecorded and off-shore;
· In the US, financial deregulation directly correlates to the increase in the income share of the top 1 per cent which is now at its highest level since the eve of the Great Depression;
· In India, the number of billionaires increase tenfold in the past decade, aided by a highly regressive tax structure and the wealthy exploiting their government connections, while spending on the poorest remains remarkably low; 
· In Europe, austerity has been imposed on the poor and middle classes under huge pressure from financial markets whose wealthy investors have benefited from state bailouts of financial institutions; 
· In Africa, global corporations – particularly those in extractive industries – exploit their influence to avoid taxes and royalties, reducing the resources available to governments to fight poverty.

Amiri Baraka (1934-2014)

Poet, playwright, provocateur, Black Power radical, Marxist-Leninist, founding member of the Black Arts Movement: Amiri Baraka exemplified the restless energy of a generation who came of age at the high point of a kind of postwar urban negritude. Impatient, inflammatory, intelligent, and indignant– impossible to commodify– Baraka never backed down.