ARTS 15
Grey Matter TV Winter 2022

Cross-listed HIST 16 / DANC 16 / ARTS 15

Class Details

Students will work collaboratively to contribute a segment to Grey Matter TV, an experimental television series which weaves together past and present stories of Williamstown MA, as creative disruption to the settler colonial mythologies that shape it. Blending narrative and documentary, Grey Matter TV takes its name from both the local Greylock Mountain and the material in the brain that controls memory and perception, asking hyper-local questions about race, class, and belonging in white-majority small New England towns. The show is co-created by artist Sacha Yanow, a white jewish queer whose parents moved from NYC to Wiliamstown to raise kids; and Bilal Ansari, a Black Muslim chaplain and community organizer whose family goes back three generations in Williamstown. The 5-episode show is anchored by a scripted scene set in 1905 Williamstown, which tells the story of White Oaks–a once vibrant enclave for formerly enslaved people, Indigenous peoples and multiracial residents–and the church founded by Williams College professor Albert Hopkins to “clean up the neighborhood”. Each episode goes on to unpacks its themes in a broader historical and present day context through a variety of interwoven segments. This winter study course will engage students in the research and production of a segment for the show. It will focus on a specific topic within the overall themes of the show to be determined collectively, and will involve hybrid forms of storytelling. The class will film the segment in the black box theater at the 62 Center and off- site at historically relevant places in the town. Required Readings Butler, Judith. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (Excerpts) Appadura, Arjun. Fear of Small Numbers. (Excerpts) Jones, R. William. Is God A White Racist? (Excerpts) Stockbridge-Munsee Community. A Brief History of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. Stoler, Ann. Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense. (Excerpts)
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 10
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: final project or presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: If the course is over-enrolled, students will be chosen based on responses to an emailed questionnaire
Unit Notes: Born and raised in Williamstown and based in NYC, Sacha Yanow is a performance artist and actor. Their recent solo performances are experimental and embodied portraits of the inner lives of archetypal family figures as a way to connect to estranged personal and cultural histories. They have been presented by venues including Danspace Project, Joe's Pub, and the New Museum in NYC; PICA's TBA Festival/Cooley Gallery Portland, OR; and Festival Theaterformen in Hanover, Germany.
Materials/Lab Fee: none
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST 16 DANC 16 ARTS 15

Class Grid

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