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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Laurie J Sears
HSTAS 364
Seattle Campus

Violence, Myth, and Memory

Explores how images and ideas of power, violence, and global modernity circulate in memories and discourses abut US relations with Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Topics include foundations myths, colonial and postcolonial encounters, historiography and narrative, and nationalist and ethnic identity formations. Offered: jointly with JSIS B 364; Sp.

Class description

"Violence, Myth, and Memory" is built around three films: "Apocalypse Now: The Director's Cut" (2001, orig. 1979), a blockbuster film; "Opera Jawa," an Indonesian mass market film for foreign audiences; and "Perfumed Nightmare" (1977), a classic of "Third Cinema". All were filmed in the Philippines or Indonesia. These films are starting points to explore ideas of violence, narrative, and global modernity in U.S. relations with Viet Nam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The course traces the ways in which these films evoke founding myths of Southeast Asian societies, regulate ethnic and religious tensions, and reflect anxieties about modernity. For Viet Nam, students will read Duong Thu Huong's "Novel Without a Name" to investigate celebrated stories and figures that serve as metaphors for the beleaguered nation. For the Philippines students will read Jessica Hagedorn's novel "Dream Jungle" about two seemingly distinct events in the Philippines under Marcos: the discovery of a Stone Age Tribe and the filming of Apocalypse Now. The class will look at how the colonial encounters (with both Spain and the U.S.) and the Catholic passion play together serve as a complex founding myth for lowland Filipino society. Turning to Indonesia, the class will see how the film "Opera Jawa" draws its themes from Javanese culture, with characters whose lives are modeled on mythical images drawn from Indic Ramayana stories. The movie explores the effects of violence on traditional cultures. Alongside this film, students will read Ayu Utami's award-winning novel "Saman" about the violence of Indonesia's 32 year (1966-98) military regime.

Student learning goals

Will learn about Viet Nam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Will learn to watch and analyze films.

Will read literature in translation from Southeast Asia.

Will learn to do film research.

Will learn new pedagogies from Difficult Dialogues program.

Will work in groups to produce video projects for class

General method of instruction

Lecture, group work, film-making projects, and discussion.

Recommended preparation

An open mind, interest in exploring film and literature in a critical manner, willing to work with other students in groups.

Class assignments and grading

In-class writing, take home final exam, film-making projects.

Readings include three novels: Novel With No Name (Huong), Dream Jungle (Hagedorn), Saman (Utami) and various essays on SE Asian culture, film theory, and critical thinking.

Grades assigned based on familiarity with readings, ability to think critically about the readings and films, ability to work successfully in groups.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Laurie J Sears
Date: 10/25/2013