Reel Cities: Public Spaces and Social Issues

Fall 2021
Fall 2020
Ayda Melika
ML 8803
PERS 3813
ML 2500
LMC 3813
HTS 2813

The Reel Cities: Public Spaces & Social Issues is a course where students learn about the urban sociology of the Middle East through movies. This class has the following four goals. First, it trains students to become participants in debates about mediated representations of the Middle East, global violence, urbanism, poverty, and inequality. In doing so, it introduces students to dominant paradigms of urban development, sustainability, and social welfare and situates such paradigms in the 20th and the 21st century history of the Middle East. Second, it examines some key films and directors— both associated with the national and local institutions and those that are independent filmmakers. Students are encouraged to understand the styles and methodologies in addition to the strengths and limitations of various directors in representing the Middle East to both local and the international audiences. Third, the course is concerned with representations of war and revolutions in the Middle East as it relates to urban socio-political and cultural movements. Concerned with orientalism and postcolonial philosophies of global justice and the ethics of global citizenship, the course encourages students to critically reflect upon their own aspirations for social change and their own engagements with the urban Middle East. Finally, the class adopts a global approach to the analysis of poverty, violence, and inequality within urban culture and cinematic representations of the Middle East, both fiction and non-fiction. While the emphasis of the class is on the experiences of the urban Middle East, it is equally concerned with structures of inequality in the West, as the two are inextricably intertwined. In this sense, the class disrupts the comfortable perception that inequality, war and poverty exist elsewhere and can be contained at a distance. This course is open to all undergraduate and graduate students at Georgia Tech. Students do not have to be enrolled in any minor in order to participate in this class but can get credit towards the undergraduate MENAS minor or PhD minor in Iranian Studies if they chose to do so.

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