In this course, we will think about crowds, groups, mobs, and masses. How and why do they form? What holds them together? How do they acquire political power? Why do they dissolve? We will ground our study of crowds in specific historical sites: the Wisconsin protests, Arab Spring, the Chartist movement in 19th century England, and the French Revolution. We will read a variety of cultural texts – literature, blogs, images, essays, and video clips – and practice writing in several different genres. The course emphasizes close reading, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary inquiry.
The goal of our course is to analyze our own assumptions about the complex issues surrounding art and the public. We will examine alternate perspectives and evaluate evidence from various sources before formulating opinions. We will also synthesize our experiences inside and outside of the classroom in order to define how we will participate in our civic communities.