Fall 2021 Theme Courses

EN358: Donning the Mask IN THE WAKE: The Persona Poem
Four-credit hours. White.

This course brings new meaning to the popular phrase and hashtag “Stay Woke.” We will look at poetic works that use persona, personification, and/or dramatic monologue as the dominant literary device to construct long poems and book-length narratives that re-imagine and reanimate historical figures and events that have had material and sociopolitical consequences for the Black community. Christina Sharpe’s wake theory will inform the reading of these poetry collections. Through discussion, critical reflective writing, and poetic re-enactments we will examine how contemporary Black poets “don the mask” to comment on our historical times and challenge us morally.

PL422: Philosophical Encounters: Philosophies of Freedom and Captivity
Four-credit hours. Moland.

Philosophers since Socrates have grappled with what it means to be free and what implications our definition of freedom has for understanding justice. Contemporary philosophers use these definitions to articulate ethical questions concerning the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States. We will explore both historical philosophies of freedom and philosophical writing about incarceration today, including the death penalty, juvenile detention, and solitary confinement. We will also learn about the lived experience of incarcerated people in Maine. Includes “philosophical encounters” with scholars and activists.

Fall 2021 Humanities Theme/Lab Courses

AR326: Slavery and Freedom in American Art
Four-credit hours. Sheehan.

This humanities lab engages with the work of historical and contemporary visual artists who have pictured the enslavement and/or freedom of people of African descent in the Atlantic world. Students consider images that Americans used as arguments for or against chattel slavery; representations of Black freedom and citizenship; and African American artists’ efforts to reimagine the violence of slavery, make visible its modern afterlife, and celebrate Black resistance and agency. Students will work collaboratively with one another and experts in the field to reinterpret artworks at the Colby Museum through writing and oral presentations.


AY297: Freedom and Captivity: Documentary Storytelling
Four-credit hours. Besteman.

This ‘inside out’ humanities lab course is open to Colby students and women incarcerated at the Southern Maine Women’s Reentry Center. The students will collaborate on a set of documentary projects that explore the themes of ‘freedom’ and ‘captivity’ in relation to place and place-making, inside and outside of a carceral environment. The class will participate in the Monday evening Freedom and Captivity webinar series, from which we will pull questions to explore through collaborative documentary projects developed in the second class meeting each week. Students will engage in critical self-reflection of their own experience with these themes and connect them to roles and systems in which they participate. The final project will include a culminating, collective portfolio of creative work developed over the course of the semester.

IT244: A Pastoral Cookbook: Classic Recipes and New Cooking Techniques
Four-Credit hours. Cannamela.

Explores the idea of the pastoral as a “comfort food recipe” rooted in the classical tradition, whose simple ingredients have inspired sophisticated “cooking techniques” and contemporary reinventions. Students will creatively engage with the pastoral as a material and imaginative site. Throughout the course, they will visit small local farms and co-author a pastoral cookbook in which recipes and stories from the farms are connected with literary and visual texts explored in the course.

TD:264: Fall Theater Production: Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
Four-credit hours. Brown.

In this course, we will research and stage a production of Moisés Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. Written in 1997, this play explores Oscar Wilde’s three trials regarding his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas and other men. Kaufman created the play from extensive research that drew directly from trial transcripts, archival newspaper accounts, and books by and about Wilde. In staging this play, we will interrogate how histories of surveillance and persecution live on in contemporary legal formations and relate to struggles for LGBTQ+ rights to this day.


Fall 2021 Humanities Labs

AR397: Vienna 1900: Works from a Major Private Collection
Four-credit hours. Plesch.

In-depth exploration of a world-class private collection of Vienna Secession art (1898–1905), a pivotal moment in European avant-garde art. Studying and researching artworks, their individual creators (artists, architects, designers), and the historical and cultural context of Belle-Époque Vienna. Access to the collection’s archives along with interviews with curators and collectors will also address collecting in the early 21st century and crucial issues connected with provenance research and restitution of Nazi-looted art.