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    Macalester College
  Dec 13, 2017
College Catalog 2014-2015 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

RUSS 151 - “Things Don’t Like Me”: The Material World and Why It Matters

We all have a contentious relationship with our material reality. The blankets are tangled, the roads are icy, the colors of the walls are wrong, the sun is too hot, the universe is too big. Once our basic needs are met, why do we continue to adapt, transform, and refine our physical environment? Why and how do human beings invest objects with meaning - and at what cost to others? What is the difference between persons and things, and is the distinction as clear-cut as it seems? How do the objects that surround us shape the world of ideas, emotions, and other essential aspects of human existence? Drawing upon the insights of scholars from such fields as history, literature, anthropology, visual art, architecture, and material culture studies, we will seek answers to these questions. We will read literary texts and analyze how the authors reflect as well as imagine material reality, and how they deploy concrete objects to create meaning in their work. The course will consist of mini-lectures, class discussion, oral presentations. We will meet outside of class for film screenings and a visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Alternate fall semesters. (4 Credits)