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ENGLISH 106B: Bad Taste

While English classes usually focus on works of art and literature collectively considered good, this class revels in the bad: the embarrassing or disgusting, the artistic failure, the guilty pleasure. With the help of some influential theorists of aesthetic badness, and a selection of ¿bad¿ examples drawn from poetry, fiction, film, and visual art, we will examine the categories¿ugly, kitschy, campy, sappy, problematic, and so on¿that have been and continue to be used to police what is and is not art, and to distinguish ¿good¿ art from ¿bad.¿ We will consider how artistic hierarchies become entangled with other kinds of hierarchies, exploring how ¿bad¿ art both sustains and subverts racial, sexual, and economic power. Why, for example, are the terms ¿rom com¿ and ¿chick flick¿ so often used dismissively? What makes a work of art provocative and avant-garde, rather than offensive¿or simply gross? And when does the ¿merely¿ bad become ¿so-bad-it¿s-good¿? In the final three weeks of the course, the students will be asked to reflect on the terms they themselves use to evaluate and describe cultural products, and to provide categories and case studies from their own experiences as consumers.
Terms: Win | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
Instructors: Taylor, M. (PI)
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