This Semester’s Undertaking: HCI

Last spring I took on a challenge that many considered crazy – I enrolled in Nicole Stanton’s 20th Century American Novel course with 18 of MA’s junior and seniors.  With the occasional exception, I attended every class, kept up with the reading, and took a stab at (most of) the assignments.  I found that “my English class” added a whole new dimension to my experience as MA’s Director of Alumni Relations.  The course itself was more demanding, enriching, and challenging than I had expected and my classmates were incredibly bright, engaged, and welcoming to me.  So, when questioning whether or not to take a Fall 2012 course, my answer was an obvious yes!

Bill listens while Henry shares his observations on the importance of light and dark in filmmaking.

The real question became:  what class to take?  In my time at MA, I have noticed that “In HCI…” is a phrase that often comes up in conversation with our upperclassmen.  So this semester I have decided to immerse myself in the History Department’s History, Culture & Identity (HCI) class with Bill Meyer and hope to discover, first hand, what makes this course so special to MA students.

The course description reads as follows:
This course is considered a “General Elective” by the University of California.What is history? What is culture? What is identity? This course will explore how different sources of information – from ancient myths and stories to legal codes and social mores to the dazzling variety of images and ideas presented by modern media – shape identity on the individual and cultural level. By examining different case studies in recent history, units will explore the way in which “markers” of identity like race, class, and gender are constructed socially. The course explores the increasingly central role mass media – especially film, television, advertising, and phenomena like “reality television” – have played in shaping cultural identity in the 20th and early 21st centuries. While discussion of content will be our primary concern, we will also focus intensively on the development of the skills and “habits of mind” you will need to develop as you prepare for college and life outside the walls of MA.
Did you take HCI while at MA?  I would love to hear about your experience!Wish me luck on this semester’s adventure!

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