COOL CLASSES: “Real Work and Dream Jobs: Art and Theories of Work”

COOL CLASSES: “Real Work and Dream Jobs: Art and Theories of Work”

Class name: Real Work and Dream Jobs: Art and Theories of Work

Taught by: Pre-doctoral Fellow and Visiting Instructor of Visual Studies Shannan Hayes


Here’s what Hayes has to say about her course:

This introductory course offers an entry into theories of work. In it we will think critically and historically about the role of work in society, the promise of art as an ideal or un-alienated form of work, and the structural persistence of gendered, classed, and racial divisions of labor. We will discuss key terms in the literature on work including: “alienation,” “post- fordism,” “neoliberalism,” “emotional” or “affective labor,” “precarity,” and “post-work imaginaries.” In doing so, we will read key thinkers who consider work in relation to gender, race, globalization, religion, nature, and art. Finally, we will visually analyze several representations of work in film in order to think critically about the stories we tell ourselves—or are told—about work.

I hope that students gain dexterity with critical concepts about work, with the goal of being able to take the concepts into the world and open new pathways for thought about encounters in your life, and that they practice thinking structurally and historically about race and gender, particularly in relation to work. I also hope they learn to denaturalize the idea of work—which is to say, to make work strange—gain skills in visual critical thinking, and with that, confidence speaking about visual things, and practice scholarly writing.

I think a lot about the relationship between art and work and gender and work in my own research. Perhaps more than this, however, I care about work because, as a working artist, student, and scholar, I’ve had many different kinds of jobs over the years! Work organizes so much of our daily lives: who we are, who we become, who we get to know, what we think about, how we spend our time outside of work, etc. This class gives us the opportunity to think slowly about this peculiar-yet-oh-so-ordinary thing we call work.


See what other courses Visual Studies is offering this semester.

Cool Classes is a recurring series on the Haverblog that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford College experience. 

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