CAS 100 is one option freshmen can choose to take during their first semester of college at Syracuse, instead of taking WRT 105. CAS 100 is a writing intensive course that has many choices for students to choose from; one of these choices happens to be Art of Activism. Here are the 5 things you learn in this version of the course.
The first topic covered in CAS 100: Art of Activism is feminism in America. When covering this topic in class, you will mostly be watching documentaries. One of these documentaries is Woman House by Johanna Demetrakas, a film made in the 70’s about feminist artists who turn an old home into a visualization of women’s roles in the household. Another artist talked about during this portion of the class is Adrian Piper. You mostly focus on her piece of work called Race, Gender and Embodiment. Feminism in the U.S is one of many topics covered in the course, and later on you can choose if you’d like to write about this in your first essay.
2. The AIDS Crisis
The next topic covered in Art of Activism is the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s and 90’s. You start learning about this by watching Greg Bordowitz’s Fast Trip, Long Drop, which is a documentary about his experience with AIDS and the way people perceive AIDS. You will also read a chapter of When We Fight We Win, which is a recurring series of articles throughout the entire class. In this part of the class, you learn all about how AIDS affects so many people, and how people feared AIDS and the LGBT in the late 1900’s. You also read the novel Imagevirus, which is the only book required during the course.
3. LGBTQ+ Movement
This topic goes hand in hand with the topic of AIDS. In this course, they are discussed one after the other due to their similar content. During this part of the course, you make a visit to a local art gallery called Light Works, which features many different artists. Light Works workers show you multiple different pieces about AIDS and the LGBTQ+ movement. There are also a few different readings about LGBTQ+ people’s experiences. In this part of the class, you learn a lot about the LGBTQ+ experience and what it’s like to be a part of the movement protecting LGBTQ+ folks.
4. Black Liberation
Another topic discussed during the course of Art of Activism is the BLM movement and Black Liberation and artwork in America. Starting this topic, you watch a video on The Art of the Black Panther Party, specifically Emory Douglas’ art. In addition to the video, there are also 2 readings about Emory Douglas and his revolutionary artwork during the Civil Rights Movement. Emory Douglas is the main focus during this portion of the course, due to his inspiring artwork about BLM like the piece shown below.
The final topic discussed in this course is the environment and the people who used artwork and activism to protect it. This topic is started with a documentary called Yes Men Fix the World, which you must watch outside of class. It features two men who impersonate people from big corporations that are harming the environment in order to make a point about the damage these corporations are doing. After this, there is an in-class slideshow presented by the professor, which features multiple artists like the one below who gathered hundreds of people fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline and gave them mirrors, as a way to force the riot police to reflect on themselves and their actions.
In conclusion, CAS 100: Art of Activism covers many different controversial topics in both past and modern America. You learn a lot about other people’s experiences, and generally become a more active person and mind. This course helps you learn more about the world and how to fight the problems in it.