The Arts and Social Transformation: A Course

New Offering, Spring 2017: all majors & grad students welcome

in conjunction with the Virginia Tech Center for the Arts


ENGL 4984 / AFST 4354: The Arts & Social Transformation

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The course is being run in partnership with the Virginia Tech Center for the Arts, and we'll have artists in residence visiting the class over the semester from various disciplines (theater, creative writing, music, etc.).  A featured course text is a hip-hop oratorio called "(Be)longing," written and scored by Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis, who will be in residence at VT during the spring semester and visiting the class to give students guidance on creating art in conversation with communities. Using the performance as a guide, the course will address violence, belonging, isolation, healing and community in critical and creative ways, and consider ways to build communities of safety and support.

We are looking for writers, artists, activists, thinkers, and media makers--students who are interested in documentary, theater, creative writing, media activism, popular culture, critical thinking, and issues of social justice.  The course will focus on teaching students the skills they need to conceive of and implement a final creative project (digital, written, performed, drawn, experienced, enacted).  No prior experience with any of these media or forms are necessary; we'll work with you to develop necessary skill sets.

We welcome undergraduates from all majors and interested graduate students.  You can find the syllabus online here.

The course meets Tuesdays from 2:00-4:50pm in Norris 209.

Dr. Ali Colleen Neff, a visiting assistant professor in WGS and AFST, is a media anthropologist whose specialties include digital undergrounds, black aesthetics, popular culture, hip-hop, and the global South. She's also a DJ and documentary filmmaker.

Erika Meitner is a poet with a background in documentary film, and experience in poetry and performance. She has authored four books of poems, and is currently an associate professor of English, and directs the MFA program in creative writing.