Documenting Globalism: Representations of Cross-Cultural Experience [CRN 81208]

Discipline: English
Instructor: Altschul
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1530
End: 1650
Field Work: Day 1 | October 7, 2018 | South Africa
Prerequisites: One (1) composition or college writing course AND one (1) additional creative writing, journalism or design course Download Syllabus

In this class we will write, edit, produce, distribute, and publicize a shipboard magazine documenting the Fall 2018 voyage. In the process, students will consider issues of representation and witness as they pertain to the media: How do we convey an objective sense of the world through the vehicle of subjective experience? What stories, or issues, or people are “worth” writing about? Whose experience “matters”? What combination of forms – interviews, features, reviews, creative writing – affords the most comprehensive view of a place and its people? And how do considerations of audience factor into all these questions?

Our digital publication, tentatively titled The Odyssey, will come out three times during the voyage; each issue will cover our visits to several destinations, as well as life aboard the MV World Odyssey and other stories as determined by our editorial board. Much of the content will be written by students in the class, though we will also solicit ideas and submissions from other classes, including E311: Creative Nonfiction Workshop and JTC328: Feature Writing. Students will rotate through three committees – content, editing, and design/publicity – in the process gaining experience with all aspects of magazine production. The magazine will aim to build community and shared experience among students, faculty, and staff, and to encourage careful consideration of the ethics of storytelling.

Field Work

Country: South Africa
Day: 1
Date: October 7, 2018

Most Americans know something about South African Apartheid, but few have seen it up close. As writers and journalists, student in this class have a unique opportunity to put together a series of articles, images, and stories that can convey a fuller picture of this brutal system, its history, and its legacy, as well as record its emotional effect on visitors. Our program in Cape Town is intended to shed light on the legal and cultural systems of apartheid ­– visits to the newly opened Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and the Robben Island prison complex where Nelson Mandela (and thousands of other political prisoners) was held for almost twenty years repreesent different ways in which South Africans have tried to remember and commemorate the sufferings of this period. And we'll meet with an artist and lecturer at the University of Cape Town, who will tell us about the artistic and ethical challenges for artists who grapple with complex historical issues. (Students will be provided with other suggestions for independent research during their stay in Cape Town, including meetings with journalists and/or academics who can speak to the challenges of writing about apartheid, and the importance of closely documenting its realities for future generations.)

The field class will play a significant role in the production of the second issue of The Odyssey, which will contain a Special Section on Apartheid. All students will be involved in creating this section, whether by writing, curating, editing, or designing its content, and therefore the field class will factor heavily into the determination of one-third of their final grade for the semester.

Learning Objectives:
  1. Students will gain familiarity with modern Cape Town, and the ways its apartheid history is commemorated.
  2. Students will consider the different methods of representing complex historical issues and eras – artistically, journalistically, by preservation, et. – and the limitations and challenges of each.
  3. Students will gather material, including personal stories, photography, and analysis, for a special section of the shipboard magazine The Odyssey, dealing with the apartheid era.