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Humanities Course
Course CodeDSET
Year Opened2006, 2018
Sites OfferedCAR, LOS, SAR
Previously OfferedLOU
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Individually Paced Mathematics Sequence
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Law and Politics in US History
The Art of Fiction
Intro to Organic Chemistry

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) returned to Carlisle in 18.1. It was taught by David Kumler, a real edge queen (find his band, Foxxxy Mulder, on Spotify) and TAd 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.


Dissent was brought to Saratoga in 19.1. It was taught by Matthew Moore and Anna Morrison. Matthew wasn't supposed to be the teacher, but the original teacher quit 3 days before the session started, so Matthew had to figure out the course in a short amount of time. Thus his teaching was not apt to teach our demographic. Anna was then hastily asked to become an TA of this class as Matthew was supposed to be the TA. The girls in that class had some strong opinions about him that were later expressed to RA Edie and Academic Counselor Amanda in a group therapy-like session during a rained-out activities period. (Mostly focused on him brushing over topics about Asian culture and focusing heavily on his college UCSD) Anna was a gem and is currently packing for her teaching abroad for a year! The class, although dysfunctional, had some good times. One time we were screaming Bohemian Rhapsody while running in the rain, as other classes watched us in shame. During the debate on goth day about violence vs. non-violence, Jackson decided to get into character during his argument. If anyone wants to see the video text mayalaufer. Dissent consisted of many arguments and games of spit, ninja, Mafia, and the occasional tossing of Eric's phone. Dissent also had 3 people (Maya, Jackson, and Sebastian) from the 18.1 SAR interpol class. Let it be known that Maya was signed up first and had no intention of the other two being there too (love you guys). The three of them would crash interpol sometimes, which annoyed the hell out of Matthew and Anna, especially during evening class. Poor Anna usually had to deal with us for 2 hours every night, which happened to be when we were the most annoying. One day during an evening class, everyone just started singing the ABCs while Anna looked disappointed (but who could blame her). Evening classes were when we worked on our final projects. Partners were chosen out of a hat. The groups were: Josh and Anjali, Maya and Cat, Eric and Duke, Song and Alice, Jackson and Sebastian (which caused Maya to laugh for about 2 hours straight, even though no one understood why), Val and Riya, and Isadora and Donzell. During the presentations on the last day, most people were either crying or sleeping the whole time because they stayed up for passionfruit. Some quotes from this session are:

  • "Gotta shake up the lead to wake it up before you use it"-Donzell
  • "Ok baby (directed at Song)"-Duke
  • "Billie Eilish is my sleep paralysis"-Donzell
  • "LAMP" - Eric
  • "Who the crust is Blambo"- Josh
  • "It's bad for your spine"-Song, in response to Anna telling us to stand up and walk
  • "Violence is so cute"-Song
  • "Jackson's advocating for the rights of 18-wheel truckers"-Sebastian
  • "Does it look like I care, I'm goth"-Jackson on goth day
  • "In this economy, you do not do art. Art does you."- Song
  • "He still said it"-Isadora (I have no clue what the context is but it was funny)
  • "It's not a trap, it's a lifestyle"-Cat
  • "Russia is not a country, it's a mindset"-Cat
  • "We stan pornhub"- Alice and Maya
  • "Porn would be in HD"-Val debating why porn should be on tv
  • (To Matthew) "What college do you go to again?"- Duke
  • "DISGOSTANG" -everyone
  • "That's so quirky" - Song
  • "Is that banana chip" - Valerie
  • "Bruh" - Einstein, probably
  • "Are dogs scared of police dogs?" - Song having a crisis during evening class
  • "How is communism not equality"- An important question that was never recognized
  • "University of San Diego"- Matthew every class

A final iconic detail of 19.1 SAR Dissent was Pepsi. Pepsi was a frequent purchase for several students in Dissent, and became a cultural phenomenon as the session progressed. "Pepsi" was immediately renamed "Bepis", which was then broken down by Isadora into "be" and "pis", thus, the phrase "bee piss" was born. Donzell gave the bubbly drink its own special twist by renaming it to a moderately scientific term for male genitalia. For evidence of the Bepis Run, email Isadora at isadora@dtgroup.com.