Tag Archives: that pornography class

All Eyes on M-Town

Yesterday, the NY Times had a piece about the flurry of unusual and tragic events in our very own Middletown, CT. The Times offers the tragic Broad Street shooting last May, the September arrest of Raymond Clark III for the murder of a Yale student, and the recent power plant explosion as examples of Middletown being unexpectedly thrust into the national spotlight.

Is this a legitimate news item? Eh. Maybe. Picture our hero, the New York Times, drowning in a sea of new media, sputtering and gasping for air, flailing out in search of any lifeline it can find, when lo!–a tiny trickle of shocking events from one sleepy town in Connecticut! Voila, a biting story. How enlightening.

Strangely (or perhaps predictably), the Times decided to use Wesleyan’s weirdness as the article’s hook. They suggest that Middletown typically only makes headlines when Wesleyan does something silly–until recently. This should sound familiar. The “Wesleyan being crazy” trope has appeared again and again in coverage of our school. As Xue pointed out back when I was a frosh, apparently any article about kooky ol’ Wes must include mention of (a) marijuana, (b) the “naked dorm,” and (c) the famed pornography class. Now, the Times uses the same tired frame, this time nixing clothing-optional living and substituting chalking for pot. To quote Holly: “Le sigh.”

New York Times: Connecticut Town Chafes at Return to the Spotlight

We Are What You Think, what you do, and who you do

The success of YouTube has generated lots of spin-offs, each with its own agenda, including  The Hub: a “YouTube for human rights,” GodTube: “broadcast him,” and lots and lots of free porn (probably the agenda with the most entertainment value, so props). 

The new kid on this block is BigThink, a YouTube for ideas, whose motto is “We are what you think”. It even has financial backing from ex-Harvard President Lawrence Summers. Eventually the Big Thinkers want to create a facebook-like social networking feature for serious intellectual types. 
It’s a nice idea. Really, I applaud their efforts. I think it has a lot of potential. This could be a great way to fight holiday brain-rot, except… it’s BORING (you might not think so, but then again you’re probably just pretending– the emperor has no clothes!). I’m willing to cut BigThink some slack because it’s brand spankin’ new, but I hope they’ll come around eventually. 
Case in point: I just watched composer John Harbison talk for two minutes about composition. I have an active interest in the subject– I’m a music major and I compose. I’ve heard of Harbison, studied him in class, and listened to his works, some of which I don’t hate. I understood everything he said and can place it within a larger historical dialogue. Even so, I was bored to tears. 
The problem? The entire website is all talk. “Experts” sit in front of a white background and talk. talk. talk. Harbison is a composer– a video of a composer talking about composing while giving no concrete examples and no soundbytes to demonstrate his points is useless, no matter how articulate he is (and in fact Harbison is not all that articulate in the video). 
Also, I believe Big Think’s dullness is directly related to its puritanical streak: I knew the big guys behind BigThink had the wrong idea when I read Summers’ one worry about the site: “Let say someone puts up a porn video next to my macroeconomic speech?” 
Obviously Summers overlooked the fact that the best ideas put porn and economics together. Seriously, ever read D.H. Lawrence? 
Since Wesleyan is the pioneer institution for the intellectualization of porn (those of you not in the know google COL289: Pornography), I say we generate a porn dialogue on BigThink (preferably with more ambitious cinematography than the videos currently on there)– do whatever you want, but keep it intellectual, guys. 
BigThink, you’re welcome. 
oh and p.s. speaking of D.H, the entire text of Lady Chatterly’s Lover is availabe here

Pornography class makes news again

Despite having been removed from the curriculum almost a decade ago, Ye Olde Pornography Class at Wesleyan still manages to make the news. Radar has named COL 289 Pornography: The Writing of Prostitutes, a course offered in 1999, #3 in its list of 10 most moronic college courses in America.

Early in the new millennium, porn studies (or Pornology) became a fashionable discipline. Several colleges offered classes that incorporated the work of Annie Sprinkle and some dude with a mustache. But only Wesleyan associate professor Hope Weisman took the pedagogy one step further and, alongside assigning readings by Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag, required students to make their own pornography as a final project. One photographed herself and her boyfriend engaging in oral sex, while another taped his friend masturbating to the music of Ella Fitzgerald (and got an A). After two years, the class was canceled, but that didn’t stop Wesleyan’s workhorse students from exploring the topic through independent studies.