PWR 2KDC: The Stories We Tell: Restorying Possible Futures
Can a woman fall two miles from the sky and live? In an Iroquois myth, Falling Woman’s drop from the sky is cushioned by a flock of birds. In 1972 Peru, a 17-year-old woman survives a two-mile fall from a plane as the Amazon jungle’s canopy breaks her descent. Mythoi are the deeply held, animating stories of wisdom and values that we use to orient ourselves in the world. Mythic stories are often impossible and fantastic—until they’re not. But sometimes they are also fantastic false narratives about how the world works and what to expect (Thanksgiving was a shared feast of allyship between settlers and indigenous people). What stories do we tell? How do we use them--to know ourselves? Our relations? Our surroundings? To imagine a better future?
In this course you will develop your research, writing, and presenting skills through self-selected research projects that center on: deconstructing dominant cultural myths (obesity is a behavioral not a medical problem); examining mythos as sites of contested public knowledge (the nuclear bomb was an attempt to re-enchant science after quantum physics punctured its “all-knowing” self-belief); or reconsidering ancient or contemporary retellings of myths as generational transmissions of collected wisdom (how a Mexican-American community used storytelling to keep alive the truth of 19th century lynchings erased in Texas history).
Story myths can be cultural repositories of knowledge meant to be retold and re-understood generationally as personal and communal healing in a changing, and often confusing, world. How might we respectfully learn from and engage these myths and possibly create/regen our own?
Examples of Research Topics
What can the anime film Your Name reveal about individualism and connection through mythic tropes like body-swapping, the red string of fate, and katewaredoki (blurring of worlds at twilight)? How can emerging quantum theorems of time and space illustrate the imaginative themes of Interstellar and Arrival? What might the spiritual dimension of Mongolian shaman practice add to the stale discourse of climate activism? What do queer indie films offer by way of “queer eternities” as revision of marriage as sacred communion?
PWR 2 Assignment Sequence
(5-minute live oral presentation; written text of 900-1200 words) You will choose a specific contemporary or historical problem that can be reconsidered through comparing different epistemologies/methodologies.
Written Research-Based Argument
(3000-3600 words; 10-12 pages) You will use research to contextualize and reshape your proposal, fashioning a tightly written and persuasive inquiry that reconsiders your initial problem from a different lens/approach.
(10-minute live oral presentation with appropriate multimedia support) You will rewrite your WRI for a live researched presentation with three major draft rehearsals. Your presentation will be delivered on a conference panel meant to engage your work with the work of the entire class.
(mixed visuals and texts map) Using the materials of creation stories and familial origin stories, you will create a representational map that reflects your research project on its own, in context of your panel, and in context of the class’s materials and themes.