English | Projects In Reading & Writing: "One of Us"
W170 | 14725-14726 | Baumann

TOPIC:	“One of Us!”: Freaks, Geeks, and Sideshows in American
INSTRUCTOR:  Rebecca Baumann

14726		MW		4:00pm – 5:15pm		BU 411
14725		MW		5:45pm – 7:00pm		BH 214

Step right up and see the amazing Siamese twins!  We’ve got the
smallest man in the world and the tallest!  The fat lady, the
bearded lady, and the mysterious half-man, half-woman!  They’re all
alive and on the inside for one thin dime!  Should you choose to pay
your dime and step into the carnival tent of this course, you will
meet some of the most unusual and fascinating people in American
popular culture.  In this course, you will develop critical reading
and analytical writing skills through an in-depth, semester-long
conversation about people who, for various reasons, have been
labeled as “freaks” in American history, literature, and film.  What
exactly is a “freak” and why has looking at them – whether on film
or in carnival sideshow tents – been such a guilty pleasure in
American popular culture?  We will ask how sometimes disturbing
written and visual representations of freaks, such as the 1932 film
Freaks and Katherine Dunn’s novel Geek Love, allow our culture to
deal with its oft-unspoken fears about the ambiguous distinction
between “normal” and “freak.”  We will also think about what freaks
can tell us about our cultural anxieties about gender, race,
sexuality, and the body.  By examining some cultural representations
of freaks over the last hundred years, I hope our class can explore
what it means to be a freak – to be different, alien, outside,
alone – and yet to also belong to a special group or family of
others who are outside the norm.