Daily Archives: February 12, 2014

Losing Utopia (HUM425)

I’ve amended the syllabus to reflect the unavailability of Towfik’s Utopia. It’s a real shame, in my view, that we won’t be able to discuss this book, but China Mieville’s The City and the City is one of the most intelligent and original speculative fiction (slipstream?) novels I’ve read in ages. The new assignment for 2/25, then, is to read as much of Mieville’s The City and the City as you can. Odds are that if you make the effort you can find a used copy around town. Consult the course information page for recommendations for local bookstores in SF.

China Mieville, The City and the City (UK 2009) 978-0345497529

Dylan Oversight (HUM425)

One major oversight regarding the Dylan/Chrysler commercial. Sarah pointed out the way that one shot in particular– Dylan at the pool table ringed by middle-aged men– essentially constructed an audience for this advertisement along generational lines. A remark that followed up on this insight observed that such an age-specific group is almost built-in to the commodity itself: after all, who’s going to buy a Chrysler anyway? It was an oversight on our (my) part not to carry this question of reception even further. The pool table scene suggests a fraternal relationship between (the miraculously brunette) Dylan and then men behind him (who simultaneously function as kind of backdrop– mere visual terrain). Yet the “creatures who live on [the American road]”– specifically the young woman with her somewhat alluring expression– indicate that the gaze that is being solicited here is not only older and masculine, but heterosexual.

Or is this absolutely the case? Could different readings and receptions effectively “queer” the commercial such that, say, the presence of James Dean and the (often camp) icon of the American cowboy offer viewers an alternate identification?

Big Change (HUM425)

It was my hope that Towfik’s Utopia would become available before we were due to read it but this does not appear to be at all likely. I’m going to change the readings, then, and find a substitute text. I will have this revision completed in the next 48 hours– by Friday morning at the latest– so be sure to check the syllabus for the changes. Our readings for next week are not effected by this change. For 2/18 be sure to bring not only Gibbs’s Mise-en-Scene but Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta. You might even screen the film in its entirety before out next meeting (strongly recommended). Any questions? Please address them to the comments field of this post.