Nov 082013

Actually, the piece ended up being framed as featuring “weird” college classes. But we’ve learned to love the label.

Doug Magditch from the local CW affiliate recently contacted the UT Dallas Office of Media Relations looking to do a piece on “unusual college classes.” Mr. Magditch visited EMAC 4372 Topics in Emerging Media and Communication: Fashioning Circuits the next day.

Here is the resulting news piece that also features a short film from classes taught by Todd Fechter and Eric Farrar, my colleagues in EMAC’s sister program in Arts and Technology (the embed code is broken, apologies for using a link):

image of classroom with the text of the course description superimposed

Figure 1. Fashioning Circuits featured on CW33

I was definitely caught off guard by the framing. Of course I know that as part of a mainstream media outlet, Mr. Magditch’s responsibility was to draw in as many viewers as possible. And “weird” is going to grab more attention than “unusual.” I admit that I was a bit worried about what the administration would think of it. But by all accounts, the powers-that-be seem pleased that we were featured and only wish we had had a bit more screen time.

The student proposals just came in for final projects and it’s true: the things they want to make are weird. But in a wonderful way. Project ideas range from shoes to help children learn to put their shoes on the correct feet, to mapping quiet places on campus, to interrogations of privacy and transparency, to challenging people to think about the invisibility of depression, and other interesting solutions or social statements. My friend and EMAC alum, Colleen Lin, sent me this quote, which is a perfect response to being labeled “weird”:

“There are people who are generic. They make generic responses and they expect generic answers. They live inside a box and they think people who don’t fit into their box are weird. But I’ll tell you what, generic people are the weird people. They are like genetically-manipulated plants growing inside a laboratory, like indistinguishable faces, like droids. Like ignorance.”

– C. Joybell C.

It’s a wonderful quote and if being weird means not being generic, then we’re happy to be weird!

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