Spring 2019 Inside-Out Exchange HC 444H/431H: Geography and American Folk, From Angelou to Springsteen

Spring Term, 2018-2019

Professor: Shaul Cohen

4.00 credits

  • CRN 32545: Monday, 18:00 - 20:50 @ OSP Salem (Tuesday 4/2 only, 18:00 - 20:50 @ CHA 201)

This course is open only to CHC students, and requires an application, interview, and instructor approval to register for this course.  If you are not familiar with the Inside-Out Program, please check out the information on the Honors College website and watch the Inside-Out documentary “On the Inside Looking Out”.

An Information Session will be held on Monday, February 11 at 6:00 p.m. in 206 Condon Hall. The Application is available on Clark Honors College Canvas, under "Resources & Opportunities…”  Applications will be due by 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 20Interviews will be held on Friday, February 22, 2:00-5:00 p.m., and students will be notified of their standing by end of Week 8.  

This class will be held on Mondays, 6:00-8:50 p.m., inside the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP) in Salem; transportation will be provided.  We'll leave campus sharply at 4:00 p.m. and return by 10:30 p.m. The first day of class will be held on Tuesday, April 2, 6:00-8:50 p.m., in 201 Chapman Hall.

Graduation Requirement: This class will fulfill both of the following requirements: a Social Science Colloquium and an American Cultures (AC) Multicultural class. If the student has already taken a Social Science Colloquium, this class will fulfill an Elective Colloquium and an AC Multicultural class.

How do we know who we are?  Identity is a story that we tell ourselves, and that is told to us, and about us, and is made up of many strands that continue to unfold in and around us.  In this course we will draw upon elements of popular and folk cultures to examine some of the stories that contribute to American identities.  Our materials will range from traditional sources such as “classic” literature to the immediacy of graffiti, and we will bring as many voices into conversation as we can.  

The course will be inside a prison, thus access to some types of media will be restricted, but our class will be far more diverse than a campus class in many ways.  This will give us an opportunity to consider issues such as authenticity, authority, inclusion, and exclusion, as we try to discern the processes and forces at work in the “construction” of the American sense of self (selves).  

In keeping with the pedagogy of Inside-Out, our time in the prison will be devoted primarily to dialogue and exploration, and we will draw upon academic readings and song, poetry, film and television, art, architecture, religion, politics, landscape, food, and on our accumulated impressions about this country and its many facets and communities.  Each participant in the course will be expected to draw upon their own experiences to inform our conversations.

Course attendance is MANDATORY through Finals week, including Memorial Day, which is part of the American story itself.  Please note – the course is not restricted to students who grew up in the United States, but a strong familiarity with American life is necessary.

This is an Inside-Out class: half the students (“inside” students) will be prison inmates and the other half will be University students (“outside” students).