By Catherine Kane ’26
There’s no shortage of Mac courses with eye-catching titles. This fall, we took a look into three of them.
Pop Art International
“Let’s reframe what pop art is. Let’s not limit ourselves only to the ’60s, to this iconic Andy Warhol, American pop,” Professor Inglot says.
Andy Warhol’s Campbell soup can is perhaps the most prominent relic of the height of the pop art era. It’s on t-shirts, magnets, bags, and, of course, in grocery store aisles. Warhol’s work, and that of his contemporary pop art peers, have captured the imagination of audiences worldwide since the style’s rise in the 1950s. Many of the enduring works and legendary artists have come from the United States and United Kingdom.
Pop Art International, taught by art history professor Joanna Inglot, examines pop art instead as a global phenomenon. “Pop art, usually, is believed to have developed in the UK and in America,” Professor Inglot said. “I want to challenge that interpretation by teaching a broader perspective.”
The course studies the pop art movements in China, Latin America, and Eastern Europe and their role in various protest movements in their respective countries. “Let’s reframe what pop art is. Let’s not limit ourselves only to the ’60s, to this iconic Andy Warhol, American pop,” she says. Inglot also introduces students to contemporary pop artists and traces the history of the style and its influence on culture back to the 1950s.
On a recent trip to the Walker Art Center, students explored an exhibit by David Hockney, a prominent contemporary British pop artist. The class also ventured to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and stood next to the iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture—part of “a tradition of visible pop art in Minneapolis,” Inglot says.
In addition to the museum trip, Inglot took her students into Macalester’s printmaking studio, where they made printings of bananas, a la Andy Warhol’s Velvet Underground cover. Her approach intertwines academic readings, hands-on demonstrations, outings, and guest speakers to build a course that communicates the historical importance of pop and its global influence, while also allowing her students to enjoy the inspirational underpinnings of pop art: fun.
Cyborgs, Puppets, and Borderline Humans
“We’re not just going around as individual organisms,” Professor Martyn says. “We’re all hardwired into this internet. We’re a hybrid of animal and technology.”
Professor David Martyn’s “Cyborgs, Puppets, and Borderline Humans” is taught in German, but he doesn’t want his students to think about the class as a language course. “The only way you begin to acquire a language is when you forget that you’re learning it,” he said. Instead, the course focuses on the historical German fascination with androids, automata, and cyborgs.
Martyn says the course was born of his frustration with teaching German literature in a “date-to-date” fashion. “I realized that we needed to organize our literature courses differently, and not just slice it up according to periods,” he says. “My hope is that people can relate to the topic in ways they might not have been able to immediately relate to a period.”
So instead of teaching straightforward German literature, he frames the course around philosophical and ethical questions of humans and technology, giving students a new way to experience the German language. German Romanticism, for example, took a great interest in the uncanny and quasi humans, with E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”—the source for the Tchaikovsky ballet—being the most well-known artifact. “Instead of focusing on an epoch or genre, for this course I would focus on these questions of the human drive and the ability to make things that are like humans or are humans,” Martyn says.
He pulls in contemporary German TV dramas, philosophy, eighteenth-century anthropology, and TED talks to prompt discussion about what makes humans human. One recent class session asked students to reflect on their own cyborg-ness, which brings up discussion of the proliferation of smartphones. “We’re not just going around as individual organisms,” Martyn says. “We’re all hardwired into this internet. We’re a hybrid of animal and technology.”
Convergence: Art/Science/Design in Our City
“I was interested in how to work within the sciences, to visually communicate the big, wicked problems facing us in the twenty-first century,” Professor Lovelee says.
Although each academic department at Macalester has its own physical space, there’s no shortage of learning, research, and collaboration that happens across disciplines on campus. That includes Professor Amanda Lovelee’s environmental studies course, “Convergence: Art/Science/Design in Our City,” which explores how collaboration across the sciences and arts can promote solutions to daunting environmental challenges. “I was interested in how to work within the sciences, to visually communicate the big, wicked problems facing us in the twenty-first century,” Lovelee says.
Convergence’s interdisciplinary approach fits squarely into Macalester’s mission of well-rounded and engaged global citizens. The class culminates in a final project in which students work with professionals in the environmental, arts, or design fields on a community issue in Minneapolis or St. Paul. “I bring in different people who work in government across the Twin Cities to share the work that they do,” Lovelee says. “Then I bring in artists across the Twin Cities who are also tackling the same issues, but from a different angle, to talk about all the different careers and ways of thinking about big topics like climate change and water and food.”
This semester, the final project will be a “manifesto in relation to climate change.” Lovelee hopes her students will find creative ways to communicate across disciplines to seek solutions to problems they see in the world around them: “You can be the top climate scientist, but if you can’t get people to care, how are we going to create change?”
November 16 2022Back to top