Skip to main content

Questioning Authority: Literature, Film & Subversion

Kathryn Collison,

Core: Humanities

Course Description

How have film and literature changed our morals and ethics? How have they informed us of the human condition or of our approach to society, including our mores and values? In this class, we will look at texts and films that hold at their center a certain questioning of authority—or maybe even a warning of what may come of our current social structures and policies. We will seek to address what it means to be subversive (both today and throughout history, as well as in varying cultures), and how literature and even film have impacted our relationship with each other and to society. We will explore and consider philosophy, plays, dystopias, sci-fi, social humor/satire, civil rights issues, and drama.

From Gattaca to Fight Club to 1984 and Lysistrata, the films and texts in this class will seek to question our assumptions about gender, science, culture, psychology, and everything in between. Students will write analytical and reflective papers, work in groups to choose three additional texts for the class to read, and take part in a final project where they will express how they personally question authority (several options will be available, including creative or community-based perspectives).

Readings and Texts

Aristophanes, Lysistrata
Kate Chopin, The Awakening
George Orwell, 1984
Octavia Butler, Kindred
Three additional texts selected by student groups

Films and Other Course Materials

The Breakfast Club
Fight Club

Student Requirements

Regular attendance, active class participation, group and individual presentations, analytical and reflective papers, and a final personal questioning authority project.

About the Instructor

Kathryn Collison earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Eastern Washington University and a B.A. in English from UNM. She has taught in the UHP since 2007 and was the Scribendi 2007-2008 Faculty Advisor. She has taught poetry in prison, high school, and community college. Her poetry has been published in The Furnace Review, New Works Review, and The Pedestal Magazine.