This is a course about change, transition, breakage, and rupture, in which death means not necessarily finality but rather process. We will examine the peculiar and powerful place of death and its accompanying corruption in Western culture, but a great deal of our focus will be on death in the broad sense as a transformative idea, source of spiritual and aesthetic power, topic of narrative fascination, means of control, and all-purpose (ethnic) cleanser. Further, we'll expand the definition to include the undead, the brain-dead, the nearly dead, the apparently dead, the walking dead, the extremely dead, and the (your term here) dead.

As with all ACTLab New Media courses, the main thrust of the course is making. There are no written
exams. Instead you will produce two mini-projects and one substantial final project during the semester, based loosely on the theme of Death. All our classwork has the goal of providing ideas and methods for these projects. You will start with simple projects and move to more complex ones, using humor, irony, uncommon approaches, and bizarre techniques. Projects may be in any form, such as film, video, sound, performance, computer animation, collage, sculpture, assemblage, or any other media or combinations of media, but they must incorporate the theoretical and methodological work of the semester.

Class is in studio and discussion format. This means that your active participation is a requirement of the course. During the semester we expect you to contribute your own ideas and arguments to the discussions, and to be willing to take the risks such contributions imply.

Download the syllabus (pdf): Click Here

Here are some resources we use for the course:

The Egyptian Book of the Dead

The Tibetan Book of the Dead

The Psychedelic Experience

Near-Death Experiences

Victor Turner's essay on liminality "Frame, Flow, Reflection" (download pdf)

The Sound of Her Wings

Poetry on the subject of Death

Foucault's Birth of the Clinic (pdf excerpt)

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