Marsha P. Johnson hands out flyers for support of gay students at N.Y.U.
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New elective about identity

Last week my new OffCourse Unfixed: Stories of Identity started. ‘OffCourses’ are Academy Minerva’s electives in which professionals are invited to spend a semester sharing their knowledge and expertise with second and third-year bachelor students. With their class, they conduct (artistic) research in all kinds of areas – from materiality and technology to social and (inter)cultural topics.

My class builds further on two previous electives: Multiperspectivity: Exploring Identity (together with Aimée Terburg, 2022) and Stories of Identity: Gender, Feminism and Queerness (2021-2022). With twenty students, I investigate the interrelationship with and the impact of gender, sexuality, origin, culture, and one’s own history on the creative process. We learn about and discuss various topics related to identity, partly by studying examples from the visual arts, performance, design, illustration, film, music, etc. (in line with the individual student’s interests). We also look at historical, political, and social connections such as feminism and the LGBT+ and civil rights movement. Additionally, we go on field trips by visiting exhibitions or inviting guests for in-depth discussions in the classroom.

The other part of the course involves students conducting their own research projects, which can span all topics and perspectives. Furthermore, students can work with any discipline or material – from writing to making and performing.

 Ultimately, what matters is that we learn together and increase our awareness and understanding. In this sense, the classroom will function as a collective learning community.

Image credits: Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. ‘Marsha P. Johnson hands out flyers for support of gay students at N.Y.U.’ New York Public Library Digital Collections. Photo by Diana Davies.



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