Honors College’s “Retro Reading” seminar explores Middle-earth and the role of technology in the arts.

Russell Cothren

The Honors College Retro Reading course focuses on seminal texts viewed through a contemporary lens. While past and current courses require analysis of materials such as Herodotus and presidential speeches, the course delves into topics that are highly relevant to today's world. However, the class also does not hesitate to delve into more contemporary readings. Next semester, honors students will take the following exam. Lord of the Ring Theorist Walter Benjamin's concerns about the role of art in the face of technological progress.

“Tolkien's rich work allows us to have wonderful conversations about technology, progress, religion, race, gender, history, and more,” said Joshua, associate professor of English who leads the Lord of the Rings course.・Byron Smith said. “Teaching this class has been one of my favorite experiences at the University of Arkansas. Some students come with a deep knowledge of Tolkien and his mythology, while others have only seen a movie or two. This combination was stimulating and led to some really great discussions.”

In addition, Curtis Maughan, director of the World Languages ​​and Digital Humanities Studio, examines the “works of art in the age of technological reproducibility” by Walter Benjamin, one of the most provocative and unique thinkers of the 20th century. Lead the course “Technology in Crisis.'' .

“Anyone who is excited, concerned, or interested in how the explosion of generative AI will fundamentally change our media landscape will benefit from this course,” Morgan said. You should consider taking the course.” “By looking back to a similar moment in the 1930s, when the explosive growth of film began to influence every element of daily life, from the dissemination of news to the creation of celebrities and methods, we are scientific research that develops and deepens our understanding of moments in time. ”

This course no longer requires an application, but interested students should register as soon as possible to secure a seat.

Fall 2024 Reading Seminar

Lord of the Ring: This retro reading course will give students a more sophisticated understanding of JRR Tolkien. Lord of the Ring. Some may think that all of Tolkien's works are fantasy, but he was a professor of medieval literature at Oxford University and thought deeply about the power of myth, the legitimacy of war, and humanity's relationship to the natural world. . This course is taught by: joshua byron smith Associate professor of English plans to have students read closely Lord of the Ring. In particular, in this course you will learn about the critical reception of Tolkien's works, his status as a postwar writer, the adaptations of his works, and the use of medieval literature in creating his own fictional world.

Technology crisis: This seminar was conducted by Curtis MaughanDirector of the World Languages ​​and Digital Humanities Studio, he is the author of one of the most influential essays of the 20th century, a comprehensive review of German-Jewish works of art in the age of technological reproducibility (1936). Guide students through analysis. Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), theorist, philosopher, and popular intellectual. As movies grew into a major mode of mainstream entertainment in the 1930s, many of Benjamin's contemporaries asked the question, “Can movies be art?” —Benjamin responded by asking, “How has cinema changed the very essence of art?'' Since its publication, Benjamin's essay has been invoked every time society has had to rethink the boundaries of art in the face of technological advances, from the golden age of television to digitalization. This is particularly relevant in our modern moment, at the dawn of AI.

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