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  • Otis Fine Arts hosts a Visiting Artist lecture series featuring Matthew Brandt, a Los Angeles-based artist. Read more about him here.
  • Otis Fine Arts hosts a Visiting Artist lecture series featuring Kerry Tribe, an artist working primarily in film, video, and installation. Read more about her here.
  • You are invited to a Movies that Matter Special Screening of the powerful new film shaping the debate about rape on college campuses, The Hunting Ground, on Tuesday, September 15 at 7:15 PM in the Otis Forum.  The Hunting Ground is a startling exposé of sexual assaults on U.S. colleges, institutional cover-ups and the brutal social toll on the victims and their families from the Academy Award-nominated filmmaking team of Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering.
  • Otis Books is pleased to publish Tim Erickson’s debut collection of poetry, Egopolis, a textual journey through destruction, resistance, city, and the Ego, from ancient times to the present day. Erickson’s work has appeared in the Chicago Review, Western Humanities Review, and the Salt Anthology of New Writing. He lives in Salt Lake City.

  • The Architecture/Landscape/Interiors Department at OTIS College of Art and Design is pleased to announce a lecture by 

  • Otis Fine Arts hosts a Visiting Artist lecture series featuring Hassan Khan, an artist who lives and works in Cairo, Egypt. Read more about him here.

  • Otis Graduate Writing students will read from their works-in-progress.


Advanced Topics in English or Liberal Studies Elective

Advanced Topics in English or Liberal Studies Elective

Course offerings vary each semester. Students choose one course from the following offerings:
Students may substitue a Liberal Studies Elective (LIBS410) for this course as well.
Creative Nonfiction
ENGL400 — 3 credits
This class focuses on the autobiography, biography, and essay as examples of creative nonfiction, a genre developed in book form and in many magazines like Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker. In addition to weekly reading and writing assignments, students write a personal essay as their final project.
Science Fiction Literature, Film, and Theory
ENGL400 — 3 credits
This course examines selected fiction, critical theory, and film as it pertains to the “cyberpunk” aesthetic. Focusing on the germinal sources of cyberpunk as well as the many motifs, artistic styles, and physical elements that comprise this radical hyperreal ethos of yesterday/today/tomorrow, concentration is on the works of William Gibson—the “demiurge” of the cyberpunk experience—and on science fiction as an artistic genre.
Creative Writing Workshop
ENGL400 — 3 credits
This course is an introduction to the experience and practice of writing fiction and poetry. Most of the course takes place in a workshop setting, including visits by guest writers. Students produce a portfolio of writing done in the course of the semester in revised and publishable form.
Gods and Artists
ENGL400 — 3 credits
This course will consider the impact of the Bible on Western culture. A profound and compelling literature, for thousands of years the collection of books known as the Bible has shaped understandings of creation and creativity, identity, and destiny, war and peace, our place in the world, and the fate of the earth. This class will survey key characters, events, and themes in the Bible, together with the Bible’s impact on Western art, literature, language, music, justice, and ethics.
Film Noir
ENGL400 — 3 credits
This course examines the film noir genre of American film with a focus on changing forces in American culture after World War II. Readings analyze the relationship of film noir to perceptions of American social history.
Los Angeles Literature
ENGL400 — 3 credits
Love it or hate it, Los Angeles is a provocative place. A city of dreams, a clash of cultures, a city of tomorrow, an impossible mess, a place of opportunity, a hotbed of illusion. Add earthquakes, riots, sunshine and smog, beaches and freeways. Add 15 million people. This course considers Los Angeles through the lenses of writers and other artists who have lived in L.A.
Film and Literature
ENGL400 — 3 credits
Students analyze narrative conventions in works of literary fiction and in film with attention to the similarities and differences between literacy and film art. They learn to appreciate the literature devices and styles evident in individual works and the commentary made by these works on moral, social, and aesthetic issues. This course includes discussion of adaptation issues.
Literature of Propaganda
ENGL400 — 3 credits
What is propaganda? Essentially, it is media that seeks to convince its audience with a message. Mass media has been used to convince people to buy a product, vote for a certain candidate or even believe in certain ideologies. In all of these media, there is a specific rhetoric used to convince the audience through images, sounds, words, or the moving image. In this class, students will dissect the media of propaganda and learn how it is used to convince a mass audience by reading speeches and literature and watching ad campaigns that include these hidden messages around propaganda. 
Writing the Short Screenplay
ENGL400 — 3 credits
“Writing the Short Screenplay” is a hands-on creative writing workshop in which students learn the art and craft of writing for film. Through online and class discussions, students will read, watch, and analyze a number of films to understand how a script translates to the screen. In the first portion of the class, students will develop story concepts by fleshing out plot, character development and more. The second half of the class will consist of story workshops where students write their pages and receive peer review through class/online discussions. By the end of the semester, students turn in revised, polished copies of their short film scripts.

Food Customs and Symbolism
LIBS410 — 3 credits
Along with air, water, shelter, and sex, food is considered a basic human need. Class, gender, ethnicity, environment, vocation, religious belief, and social values are all topics that affect what, when, and how we eat. In this course, students will read essays, view films, and through thoughtful class discussion, analyze the role of food in contemporary culture. Also examined are why certain foods are taboo to certain people, consider issues of nutrition and health, and the explore dichotomy of a world with problems of hunger and obesity. In addition to these very serious topics. In addition to these very serious topics, the social aspects of food and the way in which humans enjoy being social through eating will be explored, especially in the way these aspects relate to meeting, mating, and celebrating. 
Myths, Fairy Tales, and Storytelling
LIBS410 — 3 credits
Everybody loves a good yarn. Students will explore the worlds created in oral narratives. The types of tales discussed include myths, folktales, urban legends, and personal experience narratives. These rich narratives will be examined, in addition to the history and theory surrounding them. Students will perform ethnography with their choice of storyteller and write a field research paper about their taletelling. Students will also read several great stories, watch film adaptations of well-known folktales, and tell tales of their own.
Anthropology of Religion
LIBS410 — 3 credits
This course examines the role of religious beliefs and practices in various cultures, including its effect on art, and its relationship to the environment, family, ethnicity, and society. Emphasis is on cross-cultural and intercultural experiences in the US.
World Music
LIBS410 — 3 credits
The class explores world music traditions and the role that music plays in the lives of those who perform music, and those who listen to it. Students investigate music in terms of its social, religious, cultural, and political aspects. The class also examines the interrelationships of traditional music and contemporary styles through lecture, listening, slides, films, videos, independent research projects, readings, field trips, and guest lecturers and musicians.
Afro-Caribbean Ritual Art
LIBS410 — 3 credits
The focus of the class is an inquiry into the ritual art of the Caribbean. The course analyzes the changes and transformations African aesthetic conventions underwent as they came in contact with other cultures. Concepts of creolization, migration, adaptation, syncretism, and transformation are defined in the context of the cultures explored with African and West African art serving as a reference point. 
Science Fiction in Literature, Film, and Culture
LIBS410 — 3 credits
Science fiction stories, novels, and films are perused and analyzed to understand their influences and development. Science-fiction inspired cultural groups, their behaviors, and materials are discussed. The course emphasizes the various perspectives regarding media and popular culture and its symbiotic relationship with culture and traditional folklore. 
Contemporary Music Issues
LIBS410 — 3 credits
This course develops an understanding of the issues and processes that have shaped contemporary music culture, making a connection between static and nonstatic arts.
Latin American Folklore
LIBS410 — 3 credits
This is a survey of the folk practices, beliefs, and rituals of Latin America. The area is united by a common Spanish culture. The folk beliefs and practices inherited from Spain are informed by native, African, and Asian traditions. The course uses a variety of media such as scholarly readings, slides, and video to explore the rich and varied culture of the area. 
African Folklore
LIBS410 — 3 credits
Africa, along with native cultures, is the single most influential cultural force in the New World. From folk beliefs and practices to material culture, Africa’s rich heritage informs almost every aspect of the cultural life of the hemisphere. This class is a laboratory to explore the diverse and rich areas of the direct and indirect influences of Africa in three major cultural areas: English, French, and Spanish Creole societies. 
John Cage
LIBS410 — 3 credits
In this course students explore the work of John Cage as composer, writer, performer, and thinker, examining his diverse influences as well as the extent of his influence on creative practice from the twentieth century to the present. 
The Creative Process
LIBS410 — 3 credits
This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary theories of creativity. Students examine the lives of highly innovative thinkers to determine individual traits and environmental conditions that stimulate groundbreaking work, while gaining practical experience generating ideas in group and individual settings through in class exercise and outside assignments.
Ethics and Sustainability
LIBS410 — 3 credits
This course discusses the (un)sustainability of
environmental, agricultural, energy, political, and economic systems and practices. The course addresses sustainability descriptively, drawing on empirical science, but the primary intent of the course is prescriptive and normative. The major purposes of the course are to examine what practical considerations should guide our efforts to foster sustainability and, above all, to explore ethical issues related to sustainability.  
Signs, Ritual, and Politics
LIBS410 — 3 credits
This course examines the semiotics of ritual and the politics of ritual through an interdisciplinary approach combining visual and cultural analysis. Issues will range from how ritual behavior is embedded in visual communication to its impact on political discourse. Three main domains will be explored: semiotics of ritual and politics; ritual behavior in religion; and institutions and mass media representation through rite and signification. In the first section of the course, the focus will be on some key semiotic and cultural analyses, which will later be applied by students to assigned field projects.
The History of Rock and Roll
LIBS410 — 3 credits
Students examine the evolution of this truly American art form, from its Gospel and Blues roots, to the fusion of R & B and Country, through Doo-Wop, right up to its present day manifestations. Students will look at the music and the culture that developed around it, and how it inspires work, morality, and fashion.
Vampire Literature and Lore
LIBS 410 — 3 credits
The vampire is deeply embedded in numerous mythologies, legends, folk beliefs, and popular culture products. This course will explore how the image of the vampire has changed through the ages and cross-culturally, delving into social movements that have inspired a penchant for the undead. We will discuss modern vampires who take blood, read Anne Rice, have beliefs about their nonhuman abilities or go clubbing clad in pvc. Studies will include how and why the vampire has captured our cultural imagination through the ages.
Virtual Worlds
LIBS 410 — 3 credits
This online course, offered during summer, explores the currently burgeoning online and gaming spaces termed virtual worlds. To be explored in this course are created communities, their histories, and their realities, avatars and character invention, narrative threads in these spaces, emerging real/virtual economies, and the cultural implications of these behaviors and places. Virtual worlds addressed include The World of Warcraft, the SIMS and Second Life.
Secret Societies and Conspiracy Theories
LIBS 410 — 3 credits
Conspiracy theory is a term that refers to any claim of civil, criminal, or political conspiracy. It has become largely pejorative and used almost exclusively to refer to any fringe theory that explains a historical or current event as the result of a secret plot by conspirators. This class is an examination of the most known and current conspiracy theories and how they emerged. Such theories and their influence in popular culture, art and their relationship with secret societies as well. 
Belief and Culture
LIBS 410 — 3 credits
This course is designed to give students an overview of the variety of ways humans have constructed their belief systems. An interdisciplinary approach will allow students to examine how religious belief finds its way into all aspects of the life of a people. Using the archetype of the trickster will provide a focal point to shape students’ interpretations. Since ethnicity, class, and gender are also integral to contemporary culture, those viewpoints will help frame students’ analysis. Many films, both commercial and documentary, will be viewed in class to amplify the readings.
Occupational Cultures
LIBS 410 — 3 credits
This course examines the diverse jobs people perform with an emphasis on deconstructing the work space environment and behavior that shape occupational identities. Numerous occupations will be characterized according to their work setting, vocabulary, narratives, material culture, rituals/ rites, training, work philosophy, food/drink related activities, power relations, gender roles, race/ ethnic issues, safety concerns, subcultures, and/ or other work-related experiences. Case study examples include vocations related to mortuary, food/ beverage, healthcare, entertainment, transportation, manufacturing, financial, domestic service, creative arts, education, military, and/or other work sectors.