CULP-220 Diplomacy and Culture
Fall for 2015-2016
The course will explore the changing relationship between different kinds of "power" (coercion, military, economic - and the power of the arts as intervention, reflection, moral framework etc.) Thinking of cultural diplomacy as a way to understand the people, societies and politics of countries and regions, the course will look at the specific ways performances, films and different types of media help us to do that, through theoretical frameworks and a wide range of case studies, screenings, guest speakers etc.

As Revolutions spread throughout the Arab world, and the 24-hour news cycle, social media, and citizen journalism upend traditional power structures, cultural diplomacy and “soft power” play increasingly important roles in diplomacy and foreign policy.

At the same time, performance, film, and media increasingly engage international issues and/or topics of concern around the world and, in some cases have an impact on shaping those issues.

This course will study the intersection of culture and politics from the perspectives of diplomacy and international relations, as well as global performance, film, and media studies. We will look at a range of films, media events/ broadcasts (i.e. The Presidential Election and its Coverage as Performance, I Am Cuba, Homeland), and performances that have, purposefully or not, played explicit roles in the shaping of policy, or are reflections of them.

Topics to be studied include how creative expression foresaw the Arab Revolutions, how Idol programs are changing the world, examples of a wide range performance practices as documented in Acting Together on the World Stage text and documentary film, and the role of cultural history in shaping identity and countering extremism. We will look at numerous case studies, draw on the rich resources of campus arts programming as well as on Washington’s Embassies, arts institutions, NGOs, government agencies and associations. We will study both “high” and “popular” culture, from ballet to hip hop, and traditional to “digital” diplomacy.

We will compare the U.S. strategy for cultural diplomacy with the approaches of other countries. Special attention will be paid to the challenge of cultural diplomacy between the United States (and the West) and the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Guest speakers, who will be both American and international, will include artists, representatives from various institutions and Embassies in Washington, the State Department and Foreign Service, as well as from the private sector and NGOs.

Soliya Program

This course also will offer students an opportunity to experience cultural diplomacy in action through the Soliya program (http://www.soliya.net/). Beginning in October, some students in this class will have a weekly-facilitated discussion about current events with students in universities from different regions in the US, Europe, and the Arab/Muslim world. Students will be divided into groups of eight, representing multiple universities and countries, and will “meet” virtually via webcam for weekly discussions. Several reading assignments will be given in advance of the discussions, and will provide a framework for the conversation. In addition, students will participate in two group project assignments as part of the Soliya program. Soliya begins about one month into the term.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
More information
Look for this course in the schedule of classes.

The academic department web site for this program may provide other details about this course.