English | Projects in Reading & Writing: The Anatomy of Feeling
W170 | 22664 | Wennerstrom

TOPIC: THE ANATOMY OF FEELING: Representations of Emotions in
Popular Culture
22664	MW		4:00-5:15pm		WY 210	Wennerstrom
22663	MW		5:45-7:00pm		BU 421	Wennerstrom
Feelings are literally EVERYWHERE in contemporary pop culture. But
what do they look like and how do we interpret them?  While we
constantly read other people's emotions whenever we listen to music,
watch movies, or look at pictures in magazines--we rarely stop to
ask how we understand concepts such as "happiness" or "sadness" in
the first place. Are feelings always "pure" expressions of internal
states, or can they be artificial or performed?  Do we turn off our
emotions to cope with cinematic violence? If so, how do we become
desensitized?  Are sentiments always individual and private, or can
they be social and political? Who decides? And finally, what
strategies do artists, directors, advertisers, photographers and
producers use to capture or display the complexities of inner life?

These are just a few of the questions we will address in this
composition course, which is designed to help students refine the
reading, writing, and thinking skills they will need to do college-
level work. Seeking to re-contextualize contemporary representations
of feelings, both historically and culturally, we will think
analytically and imaginatively about how and why we feel in the ways
we do.  Although emotional displays--of affection, of anger, of
bliss--parade around like common sense in popular media, a careful
consideration of how advertisements, fashion, song lyrics, music
videos, and film create, manipulate, elevate, police, and custom
design feelings will show just how scripted "spontaneous" responses
can be. This course offers a nuanced approach to reevaluating the
emotional aesthetics prevalent in popular culture by rethinking-on a
fundamental level-how we express and communicate internal
psychological states to the outside world. Above all, W170 is an
intensive writing class.