This is the website for Values in American Life, the 2016 version of Dr. Thomas’ course (HUM 225) at San Francisco State University. In this Humanities course we will study literature, art, philosophy, and cinema, exploring questions genre, image, and form as they relate to constructions of race, gender, sex, and class. While this will be a difficult and challenging class, it is a lower division course and no prior background in literature, film, art, or philosophy is presupposed.
Night of the Living Dead—the “original”—is original largely because it nails something about ‘what we’ve seen before’ and know very well. It articulates the new via the inherited tropes and moves of the old: the inherited language of film conventions eases us in and makes even that which we’ve never seen before seem familiar, well-worn, and expected. Conversely, what seems recognizable immediately, the ‘ah, yes, here we go again’ is precisely the point of departure into the uncertain, where it turns and goes the wrong way.