Dissent

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Dissent
Humanities Course
Course CodeDSET
Year Opened2006, 2018
Sites OfferedCAR, LOS, SAR
Previously OfferedLOU
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Course Description

From the CTY Course Catalog (2006):

Thomas Paine's pamphlet The Crisis and Allen Ginsburg's poem "Howl" could not be more different on the surface. Yet both are documents that not only gave voice to the outrage of a generation, but also helped propel political and cultural events far beyond the time in which they were written. Taken together, they are proof that politics often produces some of the great works of art and that some of the great works of art are inherently political.

In this course, students explore the rich history of dissent in the United States, making broad, but not always obvious, connections among important writings and the movements they inspired. They read and analyze articles, speeches, poems, and even song lyrics by such varied figures as Samuel Adams, Sojourner Truth, Barry Goldwater, Malcolm X, Bob Dylan, and Gloria Steinem. By writing historically grounded critical essays, students explore a wide variety of topics, including the growth of the labor movement and the conservative backlash against a Democratic party that had been in power for much of the 20th century. Throughout, students examine how the forces of discontent in every generation turn a minority into a force not to be ignored.

From the CTY Course Catalog (2018):

In 1963, “King of Soul” Sam Cooke was arrested for disturbing the peace after a white desk clerk refused to honor his motel reservations. Shortly thereafter, Cooke penned lyrics that became an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement: “It’s been a long, a long time coming/ But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will.” Although Cooke died two weeks before the song was released, his “A Change is Gonna Come” has lived on to voice the collective discontent—and attendant hope—of those confronting systemic inequities.

America has a long history of dissent. This course examines that dissent in its diverse forms, using the creations of the disenfranchised to get to the heart of the cultural, political, and social injustices they fought--and continue to fight--against. From anti-war demonstrations on college campuses during the Vietnam War to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, from the Women’s Rights movement to the fight for same-sex marriage, from the writings of Ta-Nehisi Coates to Kristen Visbal’s “Fearless Girl,” students explore the various ways Americans empower change and express dissatisfaction with the status quo. Students also examine the ways politicians, activists, and demonstrators encourage or quell outrage and action, from the Occupy Movement to Donald Trump’s “Make American Great Again” Campaign.

In this course, students study social commentary through the arts and political discourse to develop a deeper understanding of American voices, culture, and history. They practice literary analysis and persuasive writing by crafting historically-grounded essays, and explore the theories behind social movements and protests.

Class History

Dissent was introduced to Carlisle in 06.2. It was taught by Cory and TA'd by Pat Clark, the latter known as the "TA from Purgatory." Students in this class remember childhood playground games, such as Duck Duck Goose, Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, and most importantly, SPUD. The class beat many other classes in SPUD before eventually deciding that the only possible challenge would be playing amongst its own members. McKenzie Hull, Passionfruit Emperor, was the undefeated champion.

Also in this class, David invented the word "goregasm", and the class spread the good word of Al Gore throughout CTY.

Much of this course was spent watching movies, including:

  • Birth of a Nation: Gore! (Racist)
  • Modern Times: Gore! (Bumbling)
  • Control Room: Gore! (Jounalistic)
  • The Weather Underground: Gore (Anarchistic)
  • Iron Jawed Angels: Gore! (Feminist)
  • An Inconveinent Truth: Gore! (Al)

Dissent (DSET) was brought back to Carlisle in 18.1. It was taught by David Kumler, a real edge queen (find his band, Foxxxy Mulder, on Spotify) and TA'd by Tim Blanton, a real adult. The class was a great place to learn and listen in an accepting and equal environment. The structure of the class was pretty flexible. A lot of reading then group discussion. Students also enjoyed making punk patches, visiting the library archives, analyzing controversial music videos, writing and distributing their own zines, and working on group projects. The final project was the inspiration for those "CTY ACCEPTS ALL" cards you may have seen in student and staff lanyards during CAR 18.1. (They also made an appearance on Instagram.) Students in this class learned that everything is broken and went home with their worldview completely shattered, hating capitalism, and more confused than ever, but somehow all in a good way. This class is highly recommended if it returns next year. However, do note that there was less history than some students expected based on the CTY syllabus, not that that was a bad thing, just be aware.