Monday, April 09, 2012

The best grad class ever

So I've spent this semester teaching (among other things) a course on HBO, titled "HBO's America: Television, History, Culture." And yes, before you ask, I do in fact have the best job in the world.

We focused on four series: Oz, The Sopranos, Deadwood, and The Wire ... though as I lamented at various points throughout the course, it would be easy enough to do an entire semester on any of those shows. And though I had my anxieties going in, the course was one of the most rewarding and stimulating I`ve taught. For me, anyway ... I don't want to speak for mystudents, of course, but they seemed to enjoy it as well. And they were, I don't mind saying, a joy to teach. It was a great semester all around for that.

Whenever I teach a grad class, I always make a point of having a course conference at the end of the term, to give the students the experience of presenting academic conference papers in an unthreatening environment, but also for the purpose of having everyone share their work with each other and with anyone else who wants to come out for the day.

Also, we always go for beers afterward.

So if there's anyone in St. John's reading this blog interesting in seeing what my students have come up with, I invite you to come by room 3018 of the Arts and Admin Building on campus tomorrow between  10am-4pm.

(And yes: Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy are not HBO series, but I offered my students the opportunity to branch out in their papers).

WARNING: Paper titles may be offensive to some readers. Though probably not if those readers like HBO.

10:00-10:00 Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:10-11:40 Session One: The Western Revisited

Shane Beehan
As The Dust Settles: Deadwood, 9/11 and the Rise of the Anti-Western.

Leia Feltham
Cooking Success on the Frontier: The Landscapes of Breaking Bad.

Robert Williams
“Ad Fuckin' Hoc” Economies: Currency, Commodity, and Capital in Deadwood's Fictional and Cultural Frontier Marketplaces.”

11:40-12:40 Session Two: Parallel Realisms

Heather Martin
“You Can Be Dead, But You’re Never Really Dead”: The Alternative Afterlife of Six Feet Under.

Amber Parker
“That Fucker Ain’t Never Spent No Time in Oz”: Augustus Hill’s Narrative Style and Audience Complicity.

12:40-1:45 LUNCH

1:45-2:50 Round Table Discussion

Dr. Christopher Lockett on Game of Thrones
Dr. Andrew Loman on Tremé

3:00-4:00 Session Four: Imaginative Inscriptions

Rebeccah Hearn
“It’s like just the fuckin’ regularness of life is just too fuckin’ hard for me or something”: Portrayals of Depression and Mental Illness in The Sopranos.”

Matthew Lidstone
Ink Stained Wretches: Body Art and the Violent Creation of Meaning in Oz and Sons of Anarchy.

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