International Studies | Topics in International Studies: Human Rights & the Arts
I300 | 13774 | Kahn, H.
This course will study human rights through the arts. We will
explore a wide array of artistic expressions, as well as the
artists, sociopolitical contexts, and global trends from which they
emerge. We will delve into the arts, as social and political agents
of change, and analyze how they exemplify struggles for human
rights, are created within human rights discourse, make conscious
demands for human rights, and/or are repressed, censored, or
involved in the denial of human rights. Art and the artist are
broadly defined, such that we will investigate human rights through
storytelling, filmmaking, painting, dance, poetry, music, theatre,
sculpture, photography, body art, graffiti, literature, ritual,
cyberspace, and other artistic forms. Examples of artistic
representations of human rights will come from contemporary and
historical art and from around the world, from Canada, Australia,
United States, and China, to Nicaragua, Chile, South Africa,
Palestine, Morocco, and beyond. Students will be expected to choose
a specific human rights issue and research it through artistic forms
and as a springboard for action. Students will also apply their
global perspectives to themselves and the local community.
Main Learning Objectives
• LEARN: To deepen student understanding of human rights by
promoting a more embodied, engaged, and personal understanding of
human rights issues around the world. This perspective will be
multidisciplinary, global, and applicable to communities around the
• EXPAND: To broaden student perception of available research
methods and means of representing academic knowledge, such that they
include social actions, expressive mediums, performances, imagery,
and many other less traditional academic entities that span the
disciplines and the globe.
• ACT: To encourage students to take action and apply their
knowledge of human rights at global and local levels.