In this course, we’ll watch a sports movie about Nelson Mandela. We’ll Google Amelia Earhart and skim the top twenty hits. We’ll study photographs of Mahatma Gandhi. We’ll compare obituaries of Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug. We’ll have fun with, and take very seriously, kids’ books about Jackie Robinson. Among other activities, likely we’ll also watch Erin Brockovitch and The Tillman Story, listen to some Melissa Etheridge and Eminem, and read a United States president’s autobiography. There are lots of ways we get to know our heroes. Is there a “real person” who can emerge from representations in film, fiction, photography, biography, autobiography, and the web? We’ll use our heroes (and the heroes of other people) to examine the relationships between “reality” and representation, authenticity and argument, truth and fiction, stories and, well, stories. We’ll talk a lot about story, in fact, and I’ll make the argument that story is all we’ve got, so we’d better be really, really good at thinking, talking, and writing critically about it.
Course requirements include two or three papers, a poster presentation, and active participation.