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2017 TASP Programs

2017 TASP Programs

“No one had wanted me to truly think before, and TASP came not politely asking, but demanding that I read and analyze, present my view and then defend it.”
– Meredith Durkin, student


“TASP has changed the way I look at history, society, and even myself.”
– Sasha-Mae Eccleston, student

See this year’s brochure here!

Cornell I Program
Gods and Heroes of the Celts and Vikings
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
June 25 – August 5, 2017

Faculty:  Thomas Hill, Cornell University, and Charles Wright, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Factotum: Peter Daniels

Medieval myths and legends provide insight into the cultures of a distant time.  How did the medieval Celtic (Irish and Welsh) and Norse (Viking) peoples imagine their gods and heroes (both male and female)?  Does the Thor of Marvel Comics have anything to do with the Norse god of the medieval period?  What did these myths mean to the medieval Celtic and Norse peoples?  What can modern readers still learn from them?  Why have they remained so potent for almost a millennium?

In this course we will explore the myths and legends of the Celts and of the Vikings (the Icelanders and Scandinavians) from the Middle Ages. We will read Irish tales of gods and goddesses, druids and druidesses, heroes and heroines: of voyages to the Otherworld, of feasts where warriors contend for the “champion’s portion,” of strange births and tragic deaths, magical transformations, courtships, and cattle-raids. We will also read the Welsh collection of stories called the Mabinogion concerning the journey of Pwyll to the Otherworld, the marriage and humiliation of the lady Branwen, the adventures of Pwyll’s wife Rhiannon and son Pryderi in an enchanted land, and the adultery and treachery of Blodeuedd, a woman conjured out of flowers.

On the Norse side we will read selections from the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson and from the Poetic Edda, both dealing with the creation of the world, the origins and adventures of the Norse gods (including Odin, Thor, and the trickster Loki), and their final defeat by the monsters of Ragnarök. We will also read selections from the heroic epic literature of the Icelanders, their sagas and short stories about such diverse topics as killings, burnings, and pet bears.  All readings will be in modern English translation, and the course presumes no previous knowledge of these topics.

Cornell II Program
Say It, Say It Anyway You Can
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
June 25 – August 5, 2017

Faculty: Aurora Masum-Javed, Department of English, Cornell University, and Henry Mills, Writing Corps, Fresh Education, and Teachers and Writers Collaborative

Factotum: Tamara Rutledge

How do we speak about the things that haunt us? In a world plagued by tragedy and oppression, the specters are both personal and political. Is there a way to honor, name, examine, and transform these traumas into stories and poems? What is their impact when we do? It is a question as old as literature, but the techniques that emerge are renewed by each generation of writers. In this course, we will analyze the craft and methods of authors who’ve tackled war, loss, illness, racism, and murder through fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We will pose the big questions, those most fundamental to the art of writing. What is truth? Who has the right to a story? What do we do when language is not enough? By unpacking and comparing texts from authors such as Tim O’Brien, Adrienne Rich, Tarfia Faizullah, Ross Gay, and James Baldwin, we will consider the complexities of these questions, formulating our own theories in response. We will then turn the same curious eye to our own writing. This course is both a seminar and a writing workshop. It is a place to build, discuss, and experiment. Each day will include in-class writing and sharing, and each week will end with the analysis of our own original submissions. As writers, we can learn as much from each other as we can from the books before us. By the end of the six weeks, students will select one piece from their edited writing portfolios to share during a formal reading with the TASP community.

Michigan I Program
Thinking About Cities: In Particular, Detroit
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
June 25 – August 5, 2017

Faculty: Deborah Dash Moore, University of Michigan, and Jason Schulman, New York University

Factotum: Erin Walters

A city is not just a place, it’s an idea. Its residents construct not only buildings, but also communities that define what the city stands for and what the city is all about.

A city is compact enough to allow for interactions and exchanges, both welcome and unwanted. How do thousands of people, crammed into a relatively small geographic area, get along? How do they live and work together to foster governance, community, law and order, and prosperity?

This course explores urban diversity, Detroit-style. We will look at the racial, ethnic, and religious diversity of Detroit, the twentieth century’s quintessential American metropolis. We will examine its rich and complex history of racial, ethnic, and religious conflict, competition, and cooperation through a focus on a single street: Chene Street. Home to Polish and Italian Catholic and East European Jewish immigrants and African Americans, Chene Street offers a microcosm for urban historical research.

Through the transformation of Chene Street from the most prosperous shopping street in Detroit into a veritable urban wilderness, the course asks how America’s fourth largest city, synonymous with the American automobile industry and with a style of popular African American music, dealt with the intersection of diversity with politics, law, and economics.

Michigan II Program
Technology and Social Change
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
June 25 – August 5, 2017

Faculty: Chiara Ricciardone, University of California Berkeley, and Micah White, Independent Scholar

Factotum: Quinn Massengill

Our time is typically considered an era of unprecedented technological change. New tools are transforming human work, values, and relationships. At the same time, human actors are consciously using the Internet and social media to pursue diverse cultural and political agendas. The rate of technological change today may be new, but technology has defined every historical age—and humans have always sought to harness its power. In this course, we explore the interdependent relationship between technology and social change from a variety of angles. We will ask: how do the tools we use change who we are?

This course considers five different kinds of landmark techno-social innovations: technologies of language and the written word; technologies of the self and subjectivity; technologies of social media and social networks; technologies of war and protest; and the potential technological event known as the “Singularity,” or the imagined advent of super-intelligent machines. We will draw on texts from philosophy, history, fiction, and social movements, from perspectives ranging from the most critical to the most utopian. By looking at how past technological innovations have shaped human life, we hope to gain new perspective on the possibility of social change in the present.