Snapshots-ANS Edition

ANS 320, 30983, Life and Love in South Indian Literature

Life Love

Take a step back, Nicholas Sparks. It is now time for modern South Indian authors to seize the spotlight and shed a different perspective on love and life, two basic yet timeless human struggles and emotions that have captured audiences of every kind.  Taught by Dr. Darsana Manayathu Sasi, “Life and Love in South Indian Literature” is a class that just might bring you to tears and appreciate life just a little bit more.

The course aims to explore modern South Indian literature and the recurrent literary themes that serve as a running coda throughout various works. Students will be reading poem anthologies, novels, and short stories.  Hopefully you will be able to leave the class with a familiar understanding of the cultural themes, literary practices, and social movements of the region. Who knows, you might even learn a few new smooth sonnets to capture somebody’s heart!

ANS 340, 30985, Jainism: Religion of Non-Violence


What does “violence” include? Where do we draw the line between what constitutes a violent act and what is a non-violent act? Is simply screaming at someone out of anger considered violence? In the practice of Jainism, which is often called the religion of non-violence, such questions are vital to address. Jainism is a South Asian religion, and one of the oldest in the world, originating in 5th century BC. It is often considered “intense” because of the discipline required by Jain monks and nuns, but the tradition is actually much more.

Dr. Don Davis focuses on Jain theology and philosophy in this new course. Students will obtain a working knowledge of the basic concepts of Jainism, including its central value, ahimsa, the concept of non-violence. Students will also work to acquire a thorough understanding of everyday life in Jain communities by looking at questions that practitioners of Jainism ask, such as “What are our obligations to others and to the natural world?” In a world today filled with plenty of violence, it may be interesting to gain a new perspective and try to understand how these people attempt to live their lives without it.

This course may be used to satisfy the Global Cultures flag requirement.

ANS 340, 30995, Tantric Ascetics in Modern India


Today India encompasses a vast landscape of religious beliefs, and although various, many religions in India are part of an undercurrent theme, Tantra. Originating in India around the 5th century AD, Tantra is regarded as a system of transgressive ascetic practice, which means that it involves going beyond the boundaries of what is socially imposed or accepted in terms of self-discipline and abstinence.

Dr. Jishnu Shankar aims to take a broad view of present day religious followers who incorporate this severe restraint in their religious and spiritual practices. He also plans to take a deeper look at how these transgressive disciplines are evolving in our changing world and how they align their practices according to the needs of the time and place they are in.

In this course, students will study Shaiva and Buddhist practitioners of this tradition, among others, as they exist in modern times. Students will also focus on understanding Tantra’s great resilience within religious traditions through changing times and in contemporary India.

This course may be used to satisfy the Global Cultures flag requirement.

Snapshots-MAS Edition

MAS 319, 35398, Curating Latina/o Spaces


When you think of Latino neighborhoods, what comes to mind? East L.A., In the Heights, House on Mango Street? This course will examine the experience of Latina/ o populations in U.S. cities during the 20th and 21st centuries while considering how these experiences have been portrayed. We will study how racialization, segregation and urban renewal shaped the experiences of Latinas/os and how they responded to these challenges. By studying Latina/o experiences and identity formation in the city, this course bridges political, cultural and economic boundaries through considering the complexities of popular culture, integration and assimilation, neighborhood formation, and multicultural interaction.

Students will be able to identify key similarities and differences of the Latina/o experiences in major cities; recognize the ways racial formation and place-making intersects with citizenship status, gender, class and sexuality to produce varying life experiences; and analyze cultural representations and portrayals of Latinas/os in print and visual media, music and popular culture. Throughout the course, students will consider the production and consumption of particular spaces and geographies such as stadiums, clubs and streets.

This course may be counted toward the Cultural Diversity and Writing flag requirements.

MAS 319, 35400, Social Science Methods: Mexican American & Latina/o Studies


Voter turnout… Immigration rates… Household income… Health disparities…

The common thread in these headline news items is a basis in social science research. No matter what your major is, the methods learned in this class can be applied to answer questions in fields as far-ranging as medicine, marketing, political science, education, and public policy.

Want to know how Latinos may impact future elections (or why they won’t) or from which Latin American countries or Mexican provinces immigrants are arriving and where? If you’re interested in finding out the answers or have another burning question lingering in your brain, this class can help you find those answers because the final class assignment is to construct a research design of your own choosing.

This course may be used to satisfy the Cultural Diversity and Independent Inquiry flag requirements.

MAS 374, 35448, Community Research and Analysis


Regardless of the sector, students pursuing careers in community leadership or program development will be tasked with making important decisions that can have huge implications for the populations they serve. Now that we are in the age of big data, students and professionals alike are bombarded with a constant stream of information from a wide variety of sources (e.g., television, the Internet, newspapers, and magazines), which make these decisions all the more challenging.

This course provides a formal introduction to quantitative methodology and statistical analysis for Latino and Black serving professionals pursuing private, nonprofit, and public sector careers in community and/or organizational leadership. This is also an experiential learning course. In addition to learning about the nuts and bolts of applied quantitative research, we will collectively (as a class) undertake a quantitative research study for a Texas-based organization or community agency.

This course may be used to satisfy the Cultural Diversity flag requirement.

For more information on these and other courses offered by Mexican American and Latina/o Studies:

Snapshots Spring 2015

EUS 347, 35699, European Avant-Gardes

Avant-Garde paintings

Are you a rebel? Do you feel constrained by certain confounds of social norms and traditions around you? Well, if you answered yes to either of these questions, listen further because you might just have something in common with those who participated in a certain artistic movement called avant-garde. This movement, which took place in Europe during the 20th century, corresponded with artists’ aggressive attitudes toward social norms and their endeavor to break artistic taboos and destroy traditions.

The movement’s title gets its origins from the military, literally meaning “vanguard” or “fore-guard,” which represents its forward-thinking attitude that pushes the boundaries of what is currently accepted as the norm in society. Visiting Professor Erik Martin’s new course “European Avant-Gardes” explores the upheaval that defined such a movement.

During this course, students will analyze text, films, and paintings in order to better understand the nature of this movement and why it was important. So if you’ve ever pushed limits, broken the confounds of the world around you, or wanted to do either of these things, then “European Avant-Gardes” may be the perfect course for you.

This course may be used to satisfy the Global Cultures flag requirement.

ITC 349, 36405, Italian of TV Advertising

Italian ads

Italy is often known for its iconic style. From fashion, to film, to politics, most of us have heard of Gucci, Fellini, or Mussolini and can associate a distinct appearance or way of doing things with at least one of these.  All of these have something in common, and that is the way in which the strong culture of Italy influences how their ideas or appearance are sold to the public. This new course, taught by Dr. Cinzia Russi, focuses on analyzing Italian advertising, and how the peculiarly Italian style of television advertising has changed during the past 50 years.

And no worries, you do not need to know Italian to take this course! It will also begin with a general introduction to the language of television advertising, in case you aren’t fluent in that either.

While focusing on language and socio-cultural changes in Italian television advertising, students will look at the role of women and the structure, life, and values of the ‘typical’ Italian family among other things. And all those ads you’ve had to watch should come in handy when the course gets into comparing ads broadcast in the U.S. with those broadcast in Italy.

This course may be used to satisfy the Global Cultures flag requirement.

C C 348, 32429, Death and the Afterlife in Graeco-Roman Antiquity


Throughout history, man has often wondered about the journey beyond death. Different cultures and individuals have varying ideas about what awaits when their mortal life ends. Many of us know that the Greeks and the Romans had unique beliefs surrounding afterlife, but what exactly were their mythological, religious, and philosophical views on it? Assistant Instructor James Patterson’s course “Death and the Afterlife in Graeco-Roman Antiquity” explores these and more views surrounding death and afterlife from ancient Sumeria, through Graeco-Roman antiquity, to early Christianity.

Through ancient literature and mythological accounts, students will be able to better understand those varying views concerning the afterlife and how these views influenced the way adherents approached their lives over this span of time. During this course, students will study subjects from ancient cults and witchcraft to martyrs and heaven. Students will also have the opportunity to study material culture, such as archaeological artifacts, and physical texts, such as curse tablets and papyri.

Course Snapshots Spring 2015

REE 302, 44180, Cuisine and Culture of Central and Eastern Europe

REE Cuisine

Who doesn’t appreciate food? If you’re already spending a large amount of time thinking about food, what better way to enhance that experience than by taking this course.

Dr. Christian Hilchey will examine the cultural and societal significance of food consumption and cuisine throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Food has always been an integral part of understanding regional identity, which in turn develops and evolves through time to reflect changes in environment and history. This class exposes its students to various traditional techniques of the region such as fermenting vegetables, smoking meats, and even the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Even better, REE 302 extends far beyond the cultural food of the past to “examine recent developments in food culture,” such as celebrity chefs in popular culture, globalization of national cuisine, and trendy organic movements.

Whether you would like to develop a broader cultural understanding of Central and Eastern Europe, or simply want to use the time when you fantasize about food more efficiently, REE 302 is the perfect class to sate your intellectual appetite.

This course may be used to satisfy the Global Cultures flag requirement.

MAS 319, 35399, Mexican American and Latina/o Folklore Across the U.S.

MAS Folklore

Does having folklore in the title scare you? Well, don’t let it. If Latino American folk speech, jokes, riddles, narratives, festivals, food culture, body art, religion and spirituality pique your interest, then MAS 319 is definitely a class worth considering.

Professor Rachel Gonzalez-Martin will introduce students to basic genres of folklore through the everyday artistry created across regional U.S. Latino communities. The course studies how the various Latino communities express their identities based on race, class, region(s), and migrant experiences.

If you’re interested in learning about this subject, breaking down stereotypes, and clearing up misunderstandings about the U.S. Latina/o communities, look no further than this course.

This course may be used to satisfy the Writing and Cultural Diversity in the United States flag requirements.

AMS 311S, 30075, The Cowboy Mystique in American Culture

When you hear the word “cowboy,” who do you think of…Billy the Kid, Charles Goodnight, or, maybe, John Wayne? Many of us associate cowboys with the Wild, Wild West, but how accurate was this image during the twentieth century? What does being a cowboy mean anyway? Does it simply mean wearing boots and jeans and owning a horse? AMS 311S, “The Cowboy Mystique in American Culture” will look at constructions of cowboy identity through film, art, media, and politics in order to examine their embodiment of masculine identity.

Students will explore the early construction of the cowboy in the twentieth century and its relation to political power, such as President Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Rider identity and its role in expanding the American empire.  The second will focus on male sexuality during the Cold War period, where a range of cowboy cultures sometimes shored up and sometimes challenged a masculine identity tied to a consensus ideology.  The final section will delve into the post-Vietnam era cowboy, a complex figure with a major role both in the counterculture and in its backlash.

This course aims to show that by following the lives of “the cowboy” in the U.S., we can gain a new perspective on how Americans may view themselves, their history, and their culture. So saddle up and get ready for a unique new course!

This course may be used to satisfy the Writing flag requirement.

Course Spotlight: Digital Self and Rhetoric


RHE 330C, 43780, Digital Self and Rhetoric

Are social media sites designed to pull you in whether you want to be a part of them or not? Would you believe the notion that no one is not on Facebook? Well, do you remember when you went to that concert and the people in front of you were taking a selfie? It turns out you were unknowingly in the background of those, which ended up on Facebook. So, since we can’t avoid being drawn into certain digital spaces, what can we do when this inevitably happens? What’s the big deal?

A new course at UT, “Digital Self and Rhetoric,” taught by Professor Casey Boyle, aims to explore how we develop, present, and manage our identities in digital spaces. Professor Boyle joined the UT Rhetoric and Writing faculty just this fall. He is very much enjoying his return to UT as a professor, having received his undergrad degree here before pursuing his masters and doctorate degrees elsewhere. Professor Boyle’s interests within Rhetoric include trying to understand how media affects the way that we communicate and create communities.

What makes this course a Rhetoric rather than a English course? Is anyone else confused in terms of what the difference is? According to Professor Boyle, Rhetoric allows for a public engagement and is often considered the art of persuasion, but he also emphasizes that Rhetoric is about creating possibilities for people based on how we present information.

Since this course focuses on understanding identities in digital space, we need to ask, what exactly encompasses this “digital space”? Professor Boyle explains that this may be difficult to define because we are never entirely sure. There is a public side of digital space, which we generally understand, including anything from Facebook to e-mails we send. Then there is also a private side of digital space, and we can only speculate about what this covers, possibly including information that the government has collected on us using surveillance tactics.

Now that we have an idea of what this digital space may encompass, why is the way that we present our selves in it so important? Did you know that when you apply for a job, the first thing an employer might do is google you? Do you know what’s out there on you? Say you decided to run for Senator. Well, one of those people at that concert you went to ten years ago is reminiscing through old pictures, when they notice you in the background, having recently seen your face on the news. They also notice that you seem to be holding a bong. This person might just decide to share this photo again, this time with even more people than before, and the consequences could be dire to your upcoming election. We’ve all seen it happen in the news from politicians to Miss Americas. The underlying message here is that our identities in digital space may open or close possibilities for us.

So how can we use media to better present ourselves and habituate good practices in order to open possibilities? Professor Boyle plans to delve into this sort of informal training during his course by connecting classical rhetorical concept of ethos with our electronic media of today. Students will focus on how to find, understand, and shape digital identities, by looking at case studies, involving their own experiences in digital media, and looking at the changing media sources themselves, which are constantly evolving and therefore changing the ways our identities are formed and interpreted in them. This course is relevant to every student, since we are all increasingly affected by our digital identities in the world today, and since this has the ability to give or take away opportunities. So why not take this opportunity and learn how to develop your best digital self?