Sunday, September 7, 2008

a dozen...



Mada, a student worker, sent me the final revisions on the posters advertising a new course that I plan to teach. The posters turned out really excellent! Mada even worked over the "weekend" (Friday and Saturday) to finish them. Before I even arrived in Kuwait I had been pushing for AUK to offer a course like UW-Milwaukee's Art Survey class that I've been teaching for the last 6 1/2 years... they liked the idea and we just borrowed a title and course number that was already in the books, but no one had been teaching. I will be able to use the same textbooks, lectures, tests, etc. that I used for my previous class but will have to modify a few things... even making these posters I ran into censorship. At least for publicly displayed posters, any nudity is censored, even of a male with his shirt off! and any too political looking work, I could not even show a Banksy work that showed an image of soldier being frisked by a little girl! Anyways, I've talked to a few professors here and they have all different approaches-some show just about anything but give the students a warning, some have warned me about showing anything that is controversial in anyway. They offered a story of a new professor here that had shown and talked about politically sensitive material and after had to go all the way to Kuwait's parliament and defend herself, with no backing provided by AUK. Soon after, she left the job and the Middle East for good! The course will also be radically different since the enrollment will be 30 students at the most (at UWM, typically there were over 300 students) and there will be two sections offered, one for males and one for females. Previously university level courses could comply with the segregation laws of Kuwait by just having a short room divider between the sexes, but now they can not even be in the same room with each other. There was even talk that to comply with a more fundamentalist interpretation of the law, whole buildings might have to be segregated by sex! It is very odd that on the one hand, government rules over the educational system have to comply so strictly to conservative Islamic ideas in Kuwait, while at the same time popular culture in Kuwait is so liberal and attempting to imitate the West...

I did not do much else but a few computer things today since I am feeling worse and worse...
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