ENGL3104DRPF3060: Poetic Justice

Exploring Agency, Ownership, and Responsibility in Narratives

Instructor: Brant Russell & Felicia Zamora

Offered: Spring 2022 - Time TBD

Location: TBD

Class #: 45239


In both written and performed narratives, the creator/s and the audience intertwine to create an alchemical reaction. In that reaction lives the final product: a living piece of art conjured from the collaboration of audience and the creator/s.

But where does the human imagination intersect with ethical responsibility? Whether performing a lived experience, adapting another culture’s folktales, or writing a poem, how is art and practice of the art affected but the necessary and complex considerations of authorial creation? And what, if any, responsibility does an audience undertake in consumption?

This interdisciplinary course will explore relevant and timely examples and debates around ownership and appropriation of narratives. The class will use the questions of Who owns a narrative? and Who has the right to tell a certain story? as entry points into the current conversations around agency in the performance of narratives, including a movement toward the how of the art. How does the art approach and embody these considerations?

We are all consumers of narrative. Every time we open a novel, turn on the television, enter a theater, or even listen to pop music, we are partnering with creative entities who have worked to bring narrative content to our eyes and ears. How do we, as educators, develop the conscientious narrative consumers of the future? How do we interrupt the cycle of cultural and theft that so often continues to silence those who have been historically marginalized? This class seeks to increase awareness around the inter-cultural violence that occurs when cultural elements are appropriated and folded into a dominant culture’s narrative output; it also equips students with the tools to engage critically with those resulting narrative products and to lead nuanced conversations about appropriation, re-appropriation, and justice.