The Art of Stealing

This summer I’m once again teaching a course of my design at my alma mater, UMass Boston. Go Beacons! (Ok, that may be the lamest mascot ever, but since I never cared about sports, I just think it’s funny.) The course starts in a little under a month, and frankly, I’m feeling a tad panicky. But the good, stage-fright kind where I’m so excited about the course, and have so much I want to do that I’m panicking that we won’t have time to do it all. And so I have to leave some of it out, but what? It’s all so great!

Anyway, it’s been a lot of fun putting together the syllabus for this course, and it’s alerted me to a number of areas of interest and overlap in new media. Because this time, I’m co-teaching the course with my husband, Matt, who also did his BA at UMB. It’s where we met. And returning there to teach, even adjunct, feels again like a kind of really special homecoming. Last time, the students were every bit as incredible as I remembered them being when I was there, and even though it was the summer, a lot of my faculty mentors were around. Catching up with them, being back on campus, it was absolutely joyous  And last time I was teaching a course on literary translation (the experimental kind, no less!). Which made me slightly less nervous, I think, because it’s what my first MFA is in, and I can just talk and talk and talk about it.

With the Art of Stealing we’re broaching some new territory for me. This is the kind of class I wish I could have taken as an undergrad, or even a grad student, but was never offered. It’s a hybrid class, looking at creative appropriation in artistic production across mediums and genres, high art and pop culture, and most importantly, digital culture. I’ve never formally studied these things, per se, but I’ve been deeply fascinated with appropriation as a translator (which might not make sense at first, but trust me, it comes up, especially as you get more and more experimental with translating methods).

So it’s very exciting to put this syllabus together, but I keep wondering how much convincing I’ll be doing. The question I keep coming back to is will the students need to be persuaded that appropriation is a legitimate method of artistic production (and some might and do argue that in our time the only legitimate method of artistic production)? Or will they have been so convinced by the Romantic/capitalist view that is dominant in most discussions on art that they are completely beholden to the notion of “originality” as the only method of articulating “genius”? I wonder, not merely idly, but because it could really change how fast and how far we go in the course.

Has anyone else taught a course like this? Any insights, as I’m finalizing my syllabus?


  1. Pingback: Some Days Are Great | Alluringly Short

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