DANC 16
Grey Matter Winter 2022

Cross-listed HIST 16 / DANC 16 / ARTS 15

Class Details

Students will work collaboratively to contribute to an episode of Grey Matter, an experimental video 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 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 show is set in 1905 Williamstown and 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”. The first three episodes were filmed in June 2021. This winter study course will engage students in the research and envisioning of the next episode of the series. It will focus on the overall themes the show, and will involve hybrid forms of storytelling. Required Readings will be excerpts from: Butler, Judith Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?; Appadura, Arjun Fear of Small Numbers; Jones, R. William Is God A White Racist?; Stoler, Ann Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense; Wilder, Craig Steven Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities; Hendrick Aupaumut History of the Muh-he-con-nuk Indians; Dorothy Winona Davids A Brief History of the Mohican Nation, Stockbridge-Munsee Band; Video: Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, Words of Our Ancestors: Revisiting Indiantown.
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: Bilal Ansari is an organizer whose family history in Williamstown goes back three generations. He currently serves as Assistant Vice President for Campus Engagement at the Office of Institutional Diversity Equity and Inclusion at Williams College. Sacha Yanow is a NYC-based performance artist and actor, born and raised in Williamstown. Their work has been presented by venues including MoMA PS1, Danspace Project, Joe's Pub, and the New Museum in NYC; and Festival Theaterformen in 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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