CMLT398N Gypsy Culture
This course focuses on the demystification of a people who have managed to survive in the Diaspora since the tenth century.
They have relied on their wits, energy, creativity, and the ability to adapt in worlds of hostility, discrimination, and persecution. This course will examine the culture of the Romany/Rom and the impact of that culture on the rest of the world. A major question that will be addressed is how the Rom have managed to appear in so many countries all over the world and how they have been received. Where and whenever possible this course will examine those works in cinema that use or make reference to the Rom in order to determine accuracy or bias in how the Rom are portrayed and to determine whether they serve or function as important measures in the process of demystifying Rom and Romany culture. Through the analysis and discussions of the content of these films, the course will seek answers to reasons for the negative stereotypes and the myths that have influenced the almost universal perception of a people who have survived and continue to survive under difficult circumstances by hanging on to their culture and their cultural roots. The first six weeks of the semester comprise strictly lecture, prompt-driven written work and participation based on a film and/or other materials, with any other, written materials embedded in the lecture; the films and these materials provide the texts for the course. For these first six weeks, students will choose their own prompt each week, on a strictly first-come, first served basis.
A full week off follows, during which students have the time to work on their Arts Forum project in consultation with the professor, and which projects are spelled out in a forum strictly for that purpose; in this same forum each student has the option of picking their project and thus the week of the project’s presentation. The projects cover all manner of creativity-related topics, to include poetry and the oral tradition; literature by and about the Romany; film by and about the Romany; dance and the tracing of the diaspora using dance; music, which concentrates on jazz; and food, fashion, art and three-dimensional art. The presenters/teachers for the week number ~3-5 students as well as the professor; all other students must participate fully in each of the presented projects. It is expected that there will be a final exam; these have been waived during the pandemic. The entire course is taught asynchronously, and with the expectation that students use their time wisely and get their work in by the deadlines, very generous, established deadlines.