Taught by Jack Ehn, M.S., Columbia University
Longtime writer and college instructor in English
12 two-hour sessions, June 29-July 10
Americans and Chinese don’t understand one another well, says Peter Gries, University of Oklahoma political psychology professor, who has studied the matter. They often judge one another by falling back on their dominant ideologies and interpreting each other based on them. In the U.S., the dominant ideology is American Liberalism. We will explore what that means and see how it is reflected in popular and well-regarded American films and TV. Students will make up their own minds about how Americans see the world, including the Chinese. There are differences, but students may see surprising similarities.
Monday, June 29, Period 1 – American Liberalism – what it is, where it comes from, and how it relates to the films and shows Americans watch. May extend into Period 2.
Monday, June 29, Period 2 – The American system and the American character, including the American Dream. Preparation for film and TV analysis, using commercials, poems, songs.
Tuesday, June 30, Period 1 – Theme of successfully, often single-handedly, resisting domination. Watch and analyze our first film.
Tuesday, June 30, Period 2 – More on Americans’ preoccupation with domination. A look at several films and TV shows. We’ll choose one for analysis on Wednesday.
Wednesday, July 1 – Watch and analyze our second piece.
Thursday, July 2 – Theme of the individual and the American Dream. Watch, analyze our third piece.
Friday, July 3 – More on the individual. Possibly another related film.
Monday, July 6 – Theme of mistrust of money. Watch and analyze a film.
Tuesday, July 7 – Theme of mistrust of domination by criminal elements. Watch and analyze a film.
Wednesday, July 8 – Theme of mistrust of power. Look at several films and TV shows. Choose one.
Thursday, July 9 – Watch and analyze our final piece.
Friday, July 10 – Review. Exam.
Grades in this class will be determined by a series of short, daily, informal written reflections on matters covered in class. The reflections must be written in English, but students do not have to stress about grammar, or what you think my expectations might be about “right” answers. Just do the work with a sincere heart and good effort, meet the length requirements, and you’ll get the credit. The course will end with a brief exam, whose value will be determined by the class’s performance on the reflections. My intention is to keep the overall value of the exam at 10 percent of the grade.